I would like to share an experience I had at the beginning of my career in the Search Industry. The Search Firm I had joined was part of a bigger group of companies which offered all kinds of HR-related services. I had spent the first day on the job by saying hello to everyone, getting introduced. I was a newbie if there ever was one.

On my second day, I was to attend a client meeting with a consultant in one of the other companies in the group. Only to listen, observe and learn, or so I thought. But, when introducing me to the client, the consultant, to my surprise, said, “This is Bob Olin from our Executive Search Firm. Why don’t you Bob give a short presentation about your Search Services? I am sure this would interest the client.”

Outwards, I was smiling, but inside I thought “You moron, this is my second day on the job. I know nothing about nothing”. As I walked towards the end of the table to hold my presentation, I was so nervous I thought my knees were going to give in. But I knew that having a presentation down on your shaking knees in front of a client is not the best way to start a career as a head hunter, so I pulled myself together and held my presentation.

It was a fast and very short run-through of the Executive Search process, which I, by chance, had learned by heart just the evening before from my training material – could not have taken more than two minutes. Yet, by the look on their faces, I had somehow managed to do well. I again was still so nervous that I had to focus on stopping my hands and knees from shaking when walking back to my chair.

Later, back in my room, I realised I now felt both thrilled and excited, not nervous at all. I also realised I had made the right choice in joining the Search Firm. I now knew I was going to learn, to manage and to like it. And I did. Many years later and hundreds of assignments later, I had developed into a top-level Research Manager and found myself standing in front of billion-dollar company CEO’s who were asking for my opinion and advice.

Thirty years and 1 000 assignments later, I could still remember my first client presentation, and how much I would have liked to have a book to look things up from then – before the client meeting – but there were no books.

Therefore, I wanted to write a book about Executive Search where anyone can go “look things up”, to share what I had experienced and learned in Executive Search. That is how the book How to recognise excellence in Executive Search came to be. I wrote this book for all clients, in-house recruiting professionals, candidates, search consultants – for everyone interested in Executive Search. My goal was to benefit as many as possible, but how well I have succeeded in my endeavor is for the reader to decide.

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