Greg Boucher, Thinkingahead Executive SearchGreg Boucher
Founded in 1984, ThinkingAhead Executive Search helps clients recruit high-caliber candidates. The company is comprised of award-winning consultants who are subject matter experts in their respective fields, including banking, sales, life sciences, nonprofit, IT and gaming, energy, among others. This team enables the company to help its clients achieve greater heights of success. “We believe a diverse team is better suited to collectively impact the world. Broader perspectives, backgrounds, communities, and cultures having a seat at the table leads to better outcomes as our clients bring solutions to mission critical areas,” mentions Greg Boucher, President, ThinkingAhead Executive Search.

Following is the conversation that Manage HR had with Boucher about the company’s commitment to a work environment that supports, inspires, and respects all individuals.

How does ThinkingAhead enable clients to identify the perfect candidate in a short timeframe?

Baby boomers are retiring, and the world is witnessing a shortage of qualified talent to fill those roles. This has been predicted for decades in popular media like 2002’s “The Impending Crisis” and by federal departments such as the Social Security Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Clients repeatedly share that they had three to four qualified candidates to interview for a role in years gone by. However, certain factors have complicated the situation. To elucidate, the pace of candidates changing jobs postpandemic is faster than the pace with which employers can manage the recruiting process. Also, when demand for talent is strong, and supply is weak, salaries rise. Clients who maintain recruitment and compensation strategies that have not been recalibrated for this cycle are struggling with the 2.3 percent unemployment rate; 97 percent of the talent who can fill a client’s vacancy are currently working, most of them with heads down, not looking at job postings.

To help clients address the quickened pace of change in recruiting talent, we’ve added several associates to the research team, invested in robust databases that speed up the candidate attraction process, and enhanced the business process, so each associate touches a smaller portion of that process, but with more candidates. Since the fall of 2020, that approach improved our clients’ candidate to interview ratio by 11 percent, and interview to hire ratio by 26 percent.

How do ThinkingAhead’s recruiters ensure that close attention is paid to the details of every individual case to deliver unrivaled results?

Since ThinkingAhead is organized into seven verticals, we accept searches only in those specific markets. As a business process model, each search is managed by a Partner and a subject matter expert that leads a team of supporting associates. They follow a codified 25 step process that is uniquely detailed and supported through a state-ofthe- art CRM. Each and every step of the process informs later steps. Those later steps aren’t performed until each and every step along the way has been satisfied. That results in a nearly 100 percent fill rate for engaged and retained searches versus a 66 percent rate industry-wide.

Could you please cite one or two case studies on how you have enabled clients to overcome hurdles and attain desired outcomes?

A Professional Services client in the Northeast engaged with ThinkingAhead to build a bench of Sales Leaders. The client had grown frustrated during a four-month process of failing to land anyone through their own Talent Acquisition department. We collaborated with that Department throughout the entire project. During the Kick- Off, speaking with one of the stakeholders, we learned that they were identifying and connecting with prospects, yet they weren’t able to bring anyone to the table. But not because of any weakness with the talent acquisition group. As we took a refreshed story to the market, we learned that most candidates for the roles believed that the client wouldn’t be able to fulfill any increase in sales that would be generated by the new bench of Sales Leaders. No candidate wants to walk into that situation.

The marketplace believed the back office team to be understaffed, which was true because of a lengthy backlog of sales orders already. In counseling the client, we suggested they think counter-intuitively and ramp up the back-office staff first, and then recruit the high profile bench, which they did.

This delayed the ultimate search by several months, but it quelled the marketplace talk and readied the organization for the new hires. News of the back office ramp-up traveled quickly and favorably impacted the ability to attract a healthy pool of Sales Leader candidates.

We believe a diverse team is better suited to collectively impact the world. Broader perspectives, backgrounds, communities, and cultures having a seat at the table leads to better outcomes as our clients bring solutions to mission critical areas

What, according to you, are the distinct features of Thinking Ahead that give you a competitive edge?

Thinking Ahead maintains an abundance mentality. There is more than enough opportunity to go around, so we invest little time in thinking about thwarting competition and instead spend more time learning from our peers and collaborating with them. The competitive edge we maintain is multi-fold and starts with living as a Continuous Learning Organization. ThinkingAhead consultants participate in professional development no less than five hours monthly.

Continuous Learning also means that we hold on to the collective wisdom of Partners who average over 13 years with the firm and from 39 years of serving over 1300 unique clients with nearly 10,000 completed assignments. That collective wisdom is actively mined and fosters an emotional intelligence for clients and candidates alike.

How does Thinking Ahead operate as an Equal Opportunity Employer, in turn, create a win-win situation for employees and clients alike?

Thinking Ahead's DEI commitment started in 2017 at the request of one of our clients. After seeing various client gains in cash flow, revenue, financial returns, and corporate culture, we realized the value in shifting this paradigm across all the verticals we serve. Since the social awakening in 2020, DEI recruiting has moved to top-of-mind status with many new clients. A wonderful win win situation has flowed from the early, heavy-lifting in building successful DEI strategies into THE Practice. First, and on average, clients are seeing a diverse pool of candidates in 88 percent of the searches. For that result, and the search methodologies which informed that result, Thinking Ahead was recognized as a Top 10 Search Firm by Women of Colour in Philanthropy and Fundraising. Second, the corporate culture and economic gains are quite visible in our other clients now.

What does the future hold for Thinking Ahead?

The future is bright for Thinking Ahead, and the search profession as a whole. The competition for talent is fierce and will continue to be for years to come. Another BOL article quotes that more people are retiring, and there are fewer people entering the workforce. In 2021 alone, there were an average of 10.4 million jobs, and only 8.4 million candidates available, spurring the need for clients to work with third-party search professionals.

In another recent study, 52 percent of respondent companies said that they are expanding their DEI hiring goals, and that fuels the demand on overworked talent acquisition teams. Add the post-pandemic Great Resignation, which is accelerating people’s transitions to warp speed, and we have a trinity of demographic factors that are stressing the professional labor markets. An everincreasing number of clients are rethinking the process to land topshelf talent, seeking out new tools and search partners to augment their internal Talent Acquisition teams.

While we hope that DEI recruiting sustains itself, and we believe the Great Resignation will subside sooner versus later, the evidence is clear that the dearth of qualified candidates will last a generation.