Headhunting Recruits a New Image

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Recruitment firm Kendall Tarrant has been rebranded as The Talent Business—a reinvention that company principals intend to go beyond a striking new logo and do nothing less than change the perception and reality of the recruitment game, and perhaps the way talent is valued in the industry. Kendall Tarrant CEO Gary Stolkin says the re-engineered company will address the current and future demands of the marketing world by building a genuinely global reach, sourcing talent from across disciplines and by offering a different take on how the company's own talent works together and is compensated. The London-headquartered multinational company (part of publicly traded Hat Pin PLC) had already expanded its reach in Asia, adding a Singapore office to its Shanghai and Hong Kong locations, as well as expanding in Latin America and across Europe. The relaunch will see a significant U.S. expansion, and to that end, Stolkin engaged in some creative recruiting himself, tapping former BBH USA CEO Cindy Gallop as chairman, the Americas. Kendall Tarrant head of creative Lucy Meredith has also relocated to New York in the role of U.S. CEO, and says the New York office will double in size to 20 people by the end of '07. "We will be the biggest source of talent for creative businesses this time next year," says Stolkin of the U.S. offering, which also includes a San Francisco office.

In addition to the global mandate, Stolkin says TTB is being oriented to source talent from all across the communications spectrum. "Everyone is doing more—media agencies are doing content, ad agencies are doing communications planning, everyone is doing digital. Talent has shot up the agenda." He also notes the growing mandate to bring talent from other creative fields into the ad world. "We need to know the interesting creative guys at places like P&G and MTV, too. We are starting to move people from different creative businesses into agencies." According to Gallop, who is working in an advisory role with the company, a lot of the big talk about talent in the industry these days is just lip service. "Talent is all too often not valued, fostered and rewarded in the way it should be, as the fundamental driver of any agency's business success. And when you don't really value people as you should, you don't know how to get the best out of them and you don't know how to provide an environment that ensures you do that. That's one of the things TTB intends to help agencies manage."

One of the main challenges for the company, of course, is simply overcoming the industry perception that the best talent wouldn't go through a recruiter and "that headhunters are a negative, that they destabilize the business," says Meredith. So the company, she says, is modeled to work with talent and talent hunters on a more long-term, strategic basis, coaching talent, advising agencies how to maximize the talent they already have, and offering talent negotiation assistance, in addition to placement. Stolkin says the company employs "talent strategists" (not headhunters, please) with experience in the industry and provides incentive for them to create long-term partnerships rather than just moving bodies. To that end, the company eschews commissions; instead staff get a share of 25 percent of TTB's pretax profit, based on a range of performance markers that may have nothing to do with volume of placements. The company's intentions are announced in no uncertain terms with an eye-popping logo created by designer and former BBH and Lowe creative John Hobbs. The TheTalentBusiness.com site was created by Mediahive. (TI)
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