Life Sciences Executive Search: Best Practices in CEO Transitions

In his 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline, in particular as head of Human Resources, Dan Phelan played an integral role in the company’s most significant leadership transitions. This included the successful CEO hand-off between J.P. Garnier and Andrew Witty in 2008. Witty, promoted from within, has proven to be one of the more dynamic leaders in the industry.

In the following interview, Phelan looks at the question of whether to pursue internal or external candidates in a life sciences executive search, and…



Higher Education Recruitment: 10 Mistakes Search Committees Make

Anyone who’s served on an academic search committee has his or her favorite horror story about candidate missteps—there was the aspiring dean who elegantly fudged the credentials on her curriculum vitae or the presidential hopeful who sported a neon-orange tie. Dennis Barden, senior vice president and consultant in our Higher Education practice, recently outlined for the Chronicle of Higher Education some of the

The Value of Retained Search Firms: Beyond the Limits of LinkedIn

Many casual observers of the retained executive search industry have been quick to sound its death knell, often citing two key factors: LinkedIn and in-house recruiting. LinkedIn, they say, makes recruiting—even at the executive level—a “do it yourself” activity and significantly devalues search firms.

At the same time, mid-size and Fortune 500 companies are establishing and beefing up their internal recruiting teams (even hiring experienced consultants from search firms). “We know ourselves and our needs better than anyone else,” they say,…



Higher Education Recruitment: The Proactive Approach to Hiring a President

The recent spate of high-profile dismissals of college and university presidents indicates a fundamental disconnect between higher education leaders and their boards. In many cases, the issues creating friction could have been vetted and resolved when the president was first brought on board, believes John Thornburgh, co-leader of our Higher Education practice.

Much of the guesswork can be taken out of presidential selection and higher education recruitment by making both qualitative and quantitative improvements…



Who Will Fill Your Shoes? Best Practices for Hiring a Successor

Any conscientious executive knows the value in naming and developing a successor. Given enough time and mentoring, your understudy can learn the ropes, gain critical experience and, when the time is right, take over your responsibilities in what is hopefully a seamless transition. Such leadership succession planning is good for the organization, not to mention the fact that it reflects well upon your own legacy.

David Boggs, practice leader of

The Choice for Educational Leaders: Bold Vision or Mediocrity

Institutions of higher education are reshaping themselves—forced to do so in an era of shrinking budgets and heightened demands from students, lawmakers, and other stakeholders. As new institutions arise, so will new types of educational leaders. One trend is for colleges and universities to look for leaders with backgrounds in science and technology, for example, as Witt/Kieffer Education practice co-leader Lucy Leske mentioned recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The…