Last week, as we gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne everyone in attendance understood the impact the last few years have had on us personally, our businesses, and our clients.  We have survived Covid and its impact on work – how it is done, where it is done, and how we all interact.  We also have learned to adapt and change quickly.  However, even with our success in doing so, the lack of face-to-face interaction left the important part of “belonging” out.  We have now started back on this journey, one that is core to Cornerstone and its partners around the world.

Cornerstone completed its first Global Conference in four years.  Prior to 2020 we had an annual conference, rotating between Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Every one of us looked forward to meeting our partners, sharing/learning, and just spending time with them and often their families.  The Pandemic changed all this.  We, like many other organizations, relied on virtual meetings, which can be effective to share information, but not to develop relationships.

At the 2023 Conference we had impressive speakers who gave their perspective on human talent in their organizations. Jim Girard, retired L3Harris Technologies CHRO and @Marcelo Fumasoni, head of HR for Microsoft, Latin America helped us understand how organizations need to look at talent, and how our members can effectively support organizations’ talent requirements.  Lynne Murphy-Rivera, AESC’s (Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants) Managing Director, Americas, shared what their 2023 Member Outlook Survey indicated will be most important in the future.

Our members help clients identify and recruit talent:  we also assist in many other talent aspects, including Coaching, Talent Development and Career Coaching.  From the remarks of these senior leaders, these other talent services will continue to increase in importance.

Throughout the week three things became evident, and these helped me understand how well positioned we are to help clients with their talent requirements – whatever they may be, and wherever they are.  Because we are a network of successful firms, each with unique strengths, we offer clients perspectives and approaches many other retained search organizations cannot.

How different our individual firms are.

One of the greatest values a network can offer clients is the ability to be local wherever they need us to be.  Our members are experts in their local markets.  They understand the culture, and how to identify and attract talent in that location.  Members serve the talent needs of organizations in their home markets as well as talent needs of organizations located outside their market that have requirements within their local geography.  The size and structure of our local firms suit the local market.  There is no “you must have this size of organization” requirement to be part of Cornerstone.  There is an expectation that you put the client first, that you ascribe to the AESC’s deep commitment to the highest quality standards in executive search and leadership consulting—for the benefit of clients, candidates, and the profession.

How many similarities our firms have.

Every member of Cornerstone is committed to providing the best possible service – putting clients first, treating candidates with respect and contributing to our profession.  Each of us continually considers new services and approaches, increasing the value we offer.  Working together, and drawing on each of our strengths, we can help a client with almost any talent requirement – we have no borders.  We are delighted to share, and work with other members so the client always benefits.  Most importantly, we are relationship oriented.  While we use new technologies in our processes, what sets each of us apart is the human-to-human interactions and the relationships that we build.

How much we can help each other.

There are many reasons we are part of Cornerstone, but the overriding one is that we help each other better serve clients.  This results in us being outstanding in this great profession we have chosen.  We are quick to comment, to offer advice and to introduce clients to a partner who can help them when they have talent needs that are not in our market.   Because we have different interests, many members have developed unique expertise, and openly share this with fellow members.  The sum of the knowledge, skills and experience of Cornerstone’s members increases our professionalism and benefits each of our clients.  We know we are a “phone call away” from a partner who will help us add value in any situation.

We are optimistically moving into the future.  Unquestionably, how we do things to support our clients will change.  There will be new technologies, new processes, new approaches, or things we don’t visualize now.  What will not change is our commitment to each other, and our clients.  The above three points are an important foundation for our success.   Perhaps the overriding reason for our confidence is that we all like and trust one another; we willingly share so that each of us continues to improve.  That’s the true reason to belong to Cornerstone.

Virtual meetings are a fact of life today, but last week I was reminded how much more you can get done over a cup of coffee, or maybe something a bit stronger.  This we have missed.  We are now embracing regular face-to-face meetings as an integral part of Cornerstone.  The energy from last week’s conference requires this commitment on everyone’s part.   We will all win.  As will our clients.

What a great organization to be part of.