Category: Executive Search

„An executive search consultant is first and foremost the clients’ business partner.“ – Dario Brivio, Euren InterSearch
InterSearch talks between Italy and Germany

Executive Search is a premium product

Dario Brivio, Managing Director at Italian Euren InterSearch, has a clear vision of executive search. He describes his personal standard for his consulting model: “Clients, services and prices need to be at the same premium level. An executive search firm like Euren needs a clear identity and that is rooted in an exclusive retained model.” Brivio also considers this a message to the market: “Executive search is a premium service that provides a tangible competitive advantage to the client company. That is why it is important to underline the service value rather than the price itself, since the quality offered has a positive impact on organizational and business matters, too.” An executive search firm should never compromise on professional standards, be it externally or internally. However, more work needs to be done to raise awareness about high-valued and premium-priced models in the executive search sector in Italy – but also in many other countries, Brivio adds.

Entrepreneurs are particularly demanding of Executive Search consultants

Multinational corporations and entrepreneurial companies pose very different challenges for executive search, according to Brivio: “With large corporations, you have to manage numerous guidelines, a large number of stakeholders and high expectations, especially in terms of speed of delivery and effectiveness. With entrepreneurial clients, on the other hand, the focus is on building close relationships. As a consultant, you have to understand the vision, dreams, character, history, personal values and business methods of the entrepreneurs themselves.” Brivio emphasizes the importance of understanding oneself as the clients’ business partner and advisor first, rather than just a recruiter. “While multinational corporations require you to develop the ability to interpret and manage a high level of organizational and business complexity, working with entrepreneurs gives you the chance to learn an incredible amount from them.” Brivio considers this work an excellent intellectual challenge: “Because you always have to be extremely well prepared on all kind of topics to be able to meet the entrepreneurs at eye level.” With either type of client, confidentiality and reticence are essential for building a foundation of trust, which is key to fostering a long-lasting and successful partnership in executive search, says Brivio.

Executive search in Italy is characterized by a strong north-south divide

The Italian market is full of large entrepreneurial companies, which are in no way inferior to multinationals in terms of size and complexity, but which are still run by one person or family. Change management, succession planning, internationalization and process implementation are big challenges for these companies, according to Brivio: “They have grown locally with local people and are now looking for new talent that can bring an outsider’s perspective to the company.”

Another noteworthy feature of the Italian market, according to Brivio, is a strong north-south divide in terms of acceptance and understanding of executive search. The north has historically been more open because of its proximity to the rest of the European market. “Companies in the south understand the concept of executive search less, but that does not mean there is no demand there. Slowly, however, we are noticing a change there as well. Entrepreneurs have realized that local recruiting companies often cannot meet their needs for strategic recruiting and management consulting,” Brivio says.

The value of face-to-face interactions continues unabated

The challenges of the pandemic have driven many technological developments in executive search – not the least of which is communication and meeting culture. Nevertheless, Brivio still sees personal contact with clients and candidates as the most important success factor in his work. “The business aspect of consulting continues to be mostly face-to-face for us in Italy. We also need very special, confidential places for confidential conversations such as restaurants, clubs, hotels or our Euren offices,” he explains. Brivio does not consider video calls an adequate substitute for such face-to-face meetings.

Finding candidates is no longer the biggest challenge

Technology is rapidly changing the job description of search consultants. Whereas it used to be that the best headhunters excelled at finding candidates, today it is their ability to get candidates excited for their clients’ companies and projects that sets them apart. Brivio explains: “In the future, AI will be able to predict very accurately when a candidate is ready to move to a new job. But it will still take the personal and professional effort of head-hunters to reach them on a personal and professional level and attract and engage them to join a particular company.”

Dario BrivioDario Brivio

Dario Brivio joined the Italian executive search firm Euren InterSearch as Managing Director in April 2021.

After graduating in political science, he gained years of experience in the Management Consulting and Executive Search sector.

Established in 1985, Euren InterSearch has offices in Turin and Milan providing Executive Search, Talent Mapping, Talent Assessment and Development, HR Management consulting in all industry sectors.

Italy in figures

  • GDP: 1.88 Tn USD
  • Economic growth -8.9% compared to previous year
  • Per capita annual income: approx. 31,604 USD Inflation rate: -0.2% compared to the previous year
  • Unemployment rate: 9.3%
  • Labor force participation rate: 48.4%
  • Employees in the service sector: approx. 70.8%

Source: Statista, Destatis 2020

Multiple growth in 2 years – How does InterSearch members collaborate on an international executive search project?
Successful searching for a President to a manufacturing company responsible for several markets

Joint project of InterSearch Russia and InterSearch Europe.

Natalya Chuiko, Department Director at Kontakt InterSearch Russia, Project Manager, describes the challenges of the international assignment and the positive conclusion.


An international family-owned manufacturing company had a need to select a successor for the presidency, who would be in charge of the Eastern European macro-region. The new leader had to fulfill the task of increasing the market share in these regions, as well as quickly, smoothly and efficiently launch local production. This multinational company headquartered in Europe is a global client of InterSearch in various countries.

The main challenges

It was important for the client to see an expat in this role. On the one hand, the candidate had to have experience in innovative businesses and be adept at the best western business practices. It was also agreed that he or she would participate in the work of the European industry association. On the other hand, it was important that the manager had an excellent understanding of the Russian market, understood the mentality and also spoke Russian, because for the tasks assigned it was required to communicate with specialists who did not speak foreign languages well.

The area of responsibility of the new director assumed a huge scale. The segment in which the company operates is narrow and requires work experience in leading companies with similar specifics. All these conditions made the search incredibly difficult: it turned out that there were only a few candidates on the market who could qualify for the position.

Project progress and details

The entire project took 8 months from the start of negotiations with the client. The consultants conducted a careful and scrupulous search for candidates who could meet all the stated requirements. As a result, the team managed to get to know the head of the Russian branch of a large international company and introduce him to the client.

As an expat, the candidate was fluent in Russian, had a vast strategic experience and industry knowledge. But most importantly, he fully shared the family values of the company, which declares honest relationships and attention to employees.

An important point was the negotiation of a motivating compensation package with the candidate, for whom it was important to maintain the usual level of income. In addition to paying for housing, as well as extra benefit (driver, insurance, etc.), the social package included compensation for the education of the candidate’s children, which constituted a significant part of his annual income. By agreeing to take over the tuition fees, the employer reaffirmed the company’s focus on people and family values. Such a caring attitude of the employer persuaded the candidate to take the offer. Thus, the social package in the first year amounted to almost 10.5 million rubles.


For the last 2 years after the candidate was hired, the company has been demonstrating multiple growth and increasing dynamics, overtaking all market players. The production was successfully launched and became the catalyst for a quantum leap forward. Observing the results, we can safely say that the employer’s multimillion-dollar investment in a key manager not only paid off, but also returned with a huge plus. Today it is a company in which almost all candidates in this segment dream of working.

Executive search int the Middle East

„The Middle East is extremely diverse” – a conversation with Samantha Robinson, InterSearch Middle East

The Middle East is a region where people of all cultures and nationalities come together. “The Middle East is a fascinating part of the world and extremely diverse,” explains Samantha Robinson, Managing Director of InterSearch Middle East. She has had a close connection to the region since childhood, especially through her father, in whose footsteps she followed as Managing Director of InterSearch Middle East. “My father opened our first office in Dubai back in 1998 and I have now been living in the Middle East for 16 years.” Today, InterSearch Middle East has offices in four cities across the GCC region. Interview by InterSearch Germany.

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The most common Board recruiting mistakes

by Marina Tarnopolskaya, Managing Partner, Kontakt InterSearch Russia

When Russian companies declare that they have a board of directors, it often turns out that it consists of the owner and hired top managers who have been working in the organization for a very long time. However, even the most excellent strategists are unlikely to bring something new to the business if they have been working with it for 15-20 years. The lack of independent directors on the board is the biggest mistake organizations make.

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“Executive Search needs to recognize the opportunity in new technologies ” – Interview with Klas Karlsson (Talentia – InterSearch Sweden)

The future of executive search in Sweden and other Western European countries is facing significant changes. Many of these developments have been accelerated by the radical change in people’s work lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel and meetings. In addition to more flexible remote work models, the world of work seems to have taken a big leap, especially in the area of digitization. Klas Karlsson, executive search consultant in Stockholm and CEO of Talentia AB – InterSearch Sweden, sees the challenges for recruiters – as well as their clients – in identifying technological developments early on.

Professional social networks are changing all the time – executive search must keep up

Karlsson is convinced that an excellent headhunter cannot rely solely on his network and negotiation skills, but must keep an eye on technological developments. He sees the rise of social networks as particularly crucial: “All executive search consultants work with LinkedIn. Those are the basics. But are we perhaps missing candidates there?” Every executive search consultant would need to be aware that even now, candidates may be falling through the cracks because they are not signed up on LinkedIn. Therefore, to stay competitive and reach early adopters of new technologies, a recruiting firm must anticipate where the journey is headed. “LinkedIn has already taken over some of the functions that Facebook used to fulfill. People are also sharing more personal updates and interacting with personal acquaintances.” So, according to Karlsson, a new network that is more distinct from any “private” social networks might emerge in the near future. Such a network would be the place to look for promising executives in the future. “These are precisely the developments we need to help shape, not merely react to.”

The consulting process is becoming more transparent – and starts earlier

Karlsson sees the increasing technologization of the recruiting market as an opportunity for executive search firms to advise their clients in greater detail on other parts of the process  that are not “purely transactional”. A consultant should at least anticipate if not initiate a client’s expansion activities. This includes questioning established assumptions that clients might have and also bringing less obvious candidates into the mix. These might for example not currently be working at a competing firm in exactly the same position that you are looking to fill. Discovering young talent and lateral entrants who take unexpected paths is part of that evolution, he says. “We as recruiters need to be more active in helping the clients in their decision making process by providing insights and data – qualitative as well as quantitative –before we start a search or even advise them against a traditional search and instead to go for an acquisition of a company and then support them in the due diligence process.” Although large companies and corporations already have insight departments that work with extensive quantities of data, Karlsson foresees a greater focus on quantitative data for executive search, looking not only at the individual and more at big trends and developments. “This will allow us to approach companies – especially mid-sized companies – directly and to anticipate their needs as part of our services.”

Entrepreneurs and startups in particular demand flexibility from recruiters

Karlsson specifically emphasizes the importance of flexibility when working with entrepreneurs and the startup sector. This concerns established fee structures in particular. “It’s not about pushing a ‘cut-rate’ approach, but developing flexible fee structures that reflect the reality of young, agile companies.” For example, a combination of cash and equity compensation could be a feasible model.” Traditional benchmarks that might work for large corporations cannot not be applied to startups in the same way. The advantage of an international network like InterSearch, Karlsson emphasizes, is not least the opportunity of cooperatively developing innovative approaches and learning from partners in other countries. “I’m excited about what our Indian colleagues are doing, for example, they are real entrepreneurs. I’m definitely closer to them in this aspect than to some companies here in Sweden.”

Klas Karlsson
InterSearch Sweden

Klas Karlsson is the founder and CEO of Swedish executive search firm Talentia AB. The company has been focused on proactive recruiting in the Swedish executive search market since 1999 and has offices in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Talentia AB has been a member of the global InterSearch network since 2015 and is leading the global Practice Start-up. Scale-up, Venture Capital & Innovation

#KlasKarlsson, Executive Search, global executive search, InterSearch, Intersearch Germany, InterSearch Worldwide, interview

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