A Proud History: The Executive Search Profession and AESC

Leadership StrategiesLeadershipExecutive SearchBoard Effectiveness
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三月 28, 2019
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Leadership StrategiesLeadershipExecutive SearchBoard Effectiveness
Competence, objectivity and integrity stand at the core of all executive searches to inform rigorous selection criteria to meet agreed upon principles.

The AESC article, "A Proud History: The Executive Search Profession and AESC," mentioned the standards on which Russell Reynolds Associates was founded and quoted Russell Reynolds Associates CEO Clarke Murphy on the importance of trust that executive recruiters must maintain. The article is excerpted below. 

AESC celebrates 60 years in 2019 

“Thorndike Deland Sr., founder of Thorndike Deland Associates, is widely understood to have started the first executive search firm. According to Mr. Deland’s obituary published in The New York Times, “After World War I, A. Lincoln Filene, the Boston merchant, then president of the Retail Research Association, called on Mr. Deland to direct an executive search activity for member department stores.” In 1926 Deland went on to establish the Thorndike Deland firm, “devoted to recruiting executives, many for the nation's major retailing companies.” 

A sign of the times 

“In terms of quality standards, in our it's all about trust. That's what really matters.”- Russell S. Reynolds, Jr., Chairman, RSR Partners. Joined AESC Board in 1968, representing William H. Clark Associates 

Especially in the United States and Europe, businesses changed dramatically during the second industrial revolution. In the period from 1870-1914 innovations like the internal combustion engine, electric light, and the production of steel contributed to a period of accelerating industrialization: the expansion of rail and telegraph lines improved access to markets and lowered costs for the movement of parts and finished goods; new, efficient methods of production made the process of turning raw material into a finished product faster and more efficient. This same period saw the introduction of management consultants who helped company leaders adapt to the demands of scale and the changing business landscape. 

Executive search evolved from the recurring need of management consulting firms like McKinsey & Company and Booz, Allen & Hamilton to recruit the right executives who could implement a recommended strategy and solve a client’s problem. Indeed, back in 1914 Edwin G. Booz said, “Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person.” 


“We know that leadership matters in every organization, and that our work impacts lives every single day. For an executive search professional to be successful, they have to have the total trust of everyone they come into contact with during a client engagement. Knowing that there are ethical norms, quality standards, and a true sense of professionalism in the industry helps ensure that trust exists.”- Clarke Murphy, CEO, Russell Reynolds Associates. AESC Member since 1972 


In that same vein, Russell Reynolds Associates stressed a highly collaborative "one firm" culture based on shared values. Each founding director committed to "the highest standards of competence, objectivity, and integrity" which informed the rigorous selection criteria and the principles agreed to by members. 

To read the full article, click here.