September 12, 2017

Heidrick & Struggles Eyes an Extended Advisory Role with Launch of New Consulting Unit

Earlier this week, executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (“Heidrick & Struggles” or “H&S”) unveiled its newest unit, Heidrick Consulting, a management consulting style offering to complement its core capabilities in leadership consulting and executive search. Heidrick Consulting will be led by Colin Price, who came to H&S in 2015 through the acquisition of London-based advisory boutique Co Company. Co Company specialized in organizational performance services, including team dynamics, performance management and leadership assessment, development and transformation. Mr. Price’s had previously led the worldwide organization practice at McKinsey & Co. for many years. The formation of Heidrick Consulting also draws upon H&S’s 2016 acquisition of Decision Strategies International, a 25 consultant boutique engaging in the development of strategic plans and leadership capabilities.

With the foundation laid, Heidrick Consulting will aim to enhance the firm’s leadership offering with consulting style services including leadership assessment and development, organization and team effectiveness, and culture shaping. The company expects these service offerings to extend the client relationships developed within the core executive search business – once placed, H&S now has the capacity for continued engagement with these leaders to help them execute on the agendas they were hired to fulfill.

Clearsight believes this strategic initiative makes sense for H&S and underscores broader trends in the consulting market. On a micro level, H&S already has the ear of corporate executives and boards of directors by virtue of the role it plays in placing executives. Executive relationships and boardroom access are key intangible assets, and H&S is wise to capitalize on its unique positioning to offer complimentary services and extend the relationship beyond placement. Such relationships are a precious commodity, and whereas other consulting firms aim to cultivate boardroom access, this is an area where H&S already thrives. With the ear of the executives it has placed, H&S aims to disrupt a domain traditionally served by the large strategy and management consulting firms.

On a macro level, we see non-consulting businesses increasingly active in consulting style offerings (whether organic or through acquisition) as a means to enhance the client relationship and play a more meaningful role in and around their core products. For H&S, the vision both places the executive and helps her execute a strategy for a more comprehensive executive leadership solution. Similarly, Korn/Ferry acquired Hay Group in 2015 and now offers a more comprehensive HR solution to clients. Likewise, Bloomberg recently announced the creations of its own business consulting arm to extend its capabilities in data to include analysis and insight, disrupting other consulting firms who had previously filled this gap.

Ultimately, many businesses provide the what but not the why and what’s next. Consulting addresses these latter questions, enhancing the relevancy and impact of pure information. A high touch consulting arm can complement existing business models, offering deeper client engagement and differentiation in a crowded market. We expect to see continued fragmentation of the consulting landscape as non-consulting firms look to own the narrative around their core products and extend their influence across the value chain.