Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
As featured in our Q2 2014 Searchlight newsletter
Pearson Partners Director and Advisory Board Member
What is your business background?
In my first career, I worked for Exxon in the coal, synthetic fuels and oil & gas industries. I then got an MBA from Wharton in finance and strategic planning, and joined McKinsey & Company. With McKinsey, I have worked with companies in virtually all industries all around the world. Much of this was strategy or operations improvement work, but I also led McKinsey’s Global Organization Design practice and worked with many leading companies on organization issues. Today, I still do some work with McKinsey, but spend most of my time serving on boards of directors and making private equity investments.
What are some highlights of your career so far? Tell us about your best days or proudest moments.
I have enjoyed major performance transformation projects the most. These typically start with strategy development, but then very quickly move into implementation, typically over six to twelve months for a smaller company, and as much as two years or more for a Fortune 10 company. Given this immersion, you can really see the tangible impact of your work and build great relationships with your clients. This is quite similar to the experience I’m now having serving on corporate boards.
What drew you to Pearson Partners?
The quality of the people and their high-integrity approach to search were the key draws.
Describe your leadership style.
With an engineering background, I tend to have a very hands-on approach that I need to watch out for. Over the years, as I’ve grown as a leader, I’ve consciously given people more rope and worked hard to be an effective coach.
What is your philosophy or approach when it comes to client relationships?
Simple: My objective is to help clients succeed, both professionally and personally. This means I focus on much more than the project or task at hand. I succeed if my client succeeds, is promoted and has a great, fulfilling career.
How have you seen Pearson Partners International grow and change over your tenure?
Certainly the firm has grown in size, but I’m most impressed by the growth in capabilities across multiple industries, such as financial services and energy.
What do you think are some of the key issues or challenges in executive search (and/or executive talent development) right now? How has the company adapted?
Increasingly, companies want to partner with search firms to meet their human capital needs on an ongoing basis. This means involving the firm in ongoing talent development of current executives, as well as targeted searches to fill out the bench. I think Pearson Partners is a leader in taking a holistic approach to its clients’ needs and providing ongoing support in a true partnership spirit.
What do you think is the key to Pearson Partners’ repeat business with top companies? What do we do better than anyone else?
Repeat business is built on success, both with the search itself and with helping to shape and execute the broader human capital agenda.
What do you like to do outside of the office? Hobbies or passions?
I have lots of passions. I love to travel to interesting and offbeat places, such as North Korea, Antarctica and Oman. I’m also an instrument-rated pilot and have recently taken up SCUBA.
What motto do you live by?
Work hard, have fun and make lots of friends along the way.
If you had to make a career change tomorrow, what job would you choose, and why?
I’m very lucky to be doing exactly what I want to do every day, so the only wish I have is for more time to do it all.
Learn more about Warren’s background and bio.