Inside Odgers Berndtson – Steve Potter

17 Jan 2018

Inside Odgers Berndtson – Steve Potter

A story of global collaboration & strong partnerships

Steve Potter
CEO, Odgers Berndtson US
and member of the Global Board

Steve Potter

Collaboration is a must. If you look at any of the best service businesses, they all have a culture where teamwork and collaboration are at the heart of everything they do.

Today, you simply will not hire the best millennials if you have a command-and-control kind of structure – and that’s a challenge for a lot of older leaders who still inhabit a world where employees don’t leave the office before the boss or the mantra is: ‘How high do you want me to jump, sir?’ It’s the complete reverse of a collaborative culture. Millennials demand respect, demand to be part of a team and want accommodation around lifestyle issues. It’s now being provided by enough companies that if you don’t provide it to them, you simply won’t hire the best people.

At Odgers Berndtson, collaboration is woven into the fabric of the organization. Search is an art and a science. We need collaborative brains on both sides. Think about it: we have an open-ended mandate to fill a position. You can fill it, or you can fill it with a great person – and that great person can be located anywhere in the world.

In the US, around a third of the top 50 CEOs were not born in this country. We have an Indian running Coca-Cola, had an American running Barclays, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and so on. It’s a global world now, so to deliver in a non-collaborative environment globally is a near-impossibility. Your systems and your culture need to support that – and in our company they do.

An interesting example right now – and this in an environment with US sanctions against Russia – we are hoping to start an assignment to provide three advisory directors to the largest companies in Russia. They want at least two of these directors to be US tech marketing professionals. It’s a fascinating assignment in light of what’s going on globally. We are putting together a team that will involve Odgers Berndtson people from the Russian and US offices and markets ourselves as one company. One way of thinking. One collaborative brain, if you like.

It is this particular way of working that we believe separates us from the crowd. We understand every aspect of the prospective client’s business, we ensure candidates are treated with respect and guidance throughout the search process and, coupled with our free-thinking, collaborative culture, ensure that whoever is appointed is the best person to fill the role.