Bernhard Raschke joins Korn/Ferry – top supply chain consultant makes the move to executive search (part 2)

Here is part 2 of our interview with Bernhard Rascke, ex Supply Chain partner at PwC, who has recently joined top recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International.

You’re changing industries obviously after many years in consulting – do you see similarities between consulting and recruitment?

The executive search industry is about 60 years old, and is still developing. Increasingly, the major players are redefining themselves as professional services businesses, seeking to become trusted advisors for business leaders .

It all starts with the CEO agenda and client issues, the main difference compared to consulting is the focus on the ‘human dimension’, and our focus on translating business issues into what that means for the talent and leadership agenda. Access to candidates has become more commoditized – think of LinkedIn - so knowledge management and value-add through subject matter expertise in a function or industry have become what’s important to win new and keep existing clients.

Also, the industry is moving more and more towards the whole life cycle of talent management: design strategy, attract talent and build talent, ... so it’s moving away from a pure search focus. Nearly 40% of Korn/Ferry revenue now comes from broader talent management-focused assignments. We have acquired market leaders in that space (like PDI Ninth House) and have some tremendous intellectual capital - so my consulting experience should be useful and fit well!

Why Korn/Ferry - what appealed about this firm?

The top five are all global, professional businesses, with slightly different industry focus and service mix. In the end it is a gut feel decision, it always comes down to the people and the personal fit, very much defined by the leadership of the firm, the culture and the vision. I did my due diligence but Korn/Ferry really stood out, through the quality and style of the European leadership team I met, the global team approach, their vision and ambition. It is also reflected in a sound share price.

To the outsider, headhunting firms can look quite similar – are there real differentiators?

The biggest difference compared to others maybe is Korn/Ferry’s depth of intellectual property and scalable solutions. Some competitors depend more on subject matter expertise and specialised consultants. They tend to focus on the high-level, premium price activities - Korn/Ferry can do this as well, but we can also then tackle the levels below and go to the “vital many” and entry levels.

So we can be a true talent partner for the client, with enterprise solutions - acting as a RPO (recruitment process outsourcer), providing a low-touch talent development solution (Forte) or running assessment centers.. So we’re less dependent on the one-on-one consultant to senior client executive relationship that some recruitment firms rely on. That should provide us with a broader offering for clients – and more stability from a business and revenue perspective.

Where do you think the ”head-hunting” or recruitment industry is going over the next few years?

I'm convinced, 5 years from now Korn/Ferry will not just compete with traditional executive search players, but with some of the big strategy consultancy firms in the advisory field, also with firms such as Mercer, Hays or Accenture on the HR services and outsourcing side. Not to forget the big four audit / consulting firms, who in fact have all started to build their own HR Services practices. There will be a blurring of boundaries between what traditionally were quite separate industries and services.

Our thanks to Bernhard Raschke, good luck to him in the new role, and I’m sure he’ll feature here again at some stage!

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Voices (3)

  1. Ben Glynn:

    A fascinating insight into Bernhard’s thoughts regarding the exec recruitment industry..

    1. Tom Alpha:

      I like the fact he’s on the “news”, I wonder how much one needs to pay to get on here…

      1. Peter Smith:

        Not totally sure what you mean, but if you’re asking how much Bernhard or Korn Ferry paid to get featured on Spend Matters I can tell you. I believe it was approximately – £25, the minus sign indicating that I think I paid for lunch when I last saw him! Neither he, PWC nor Korn Ferry have ever paid me a penny. (In fact I think I got bombed out by PWC at an interview for a job years ago…) I wrote about his move because I personally like and respect Bernhard, he has some interesting thoughts, and a top consultant in our field moving into head -hunting stuck me as being quite unusual. And we’re always looking for good stories and good people to talk to, no-one has ever paid us just to write a blog (we do write about our sponsors, just as we write about plenty of people who aren’t sponsors). I really, honestly encourage people to write guest posts, the only conditions are they must be interesting and not a pure sales pitch (I would love to see more!) Or get in touch if you think you or your firm have a story we should be covering! psmith (at)

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