263 Summer Street
Isaacson, Miller (IM), a national executive search firm dedicated to recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations, seeks a director of business development (director). A private, employee owned (ESOP) firm based in Boston, IM has offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Philadelphia, employs over 200 people, and reported over $32 million in revenue in 2017.
Reporting to the president, the director of business development will work collaboratively with the firm’s partners to shape a business development strategy and program that will increase revenues, enhance market position, and build on IM’s values, culture, and distinctive service to clients. The position calls for a collaborative marketer with experience in business development within the professional services sector. The successful candidate will bring experience leading proposal development and competitive bid processes and possess outstanding writing skills. Strong oral communication and consensus-building talents will be necessary in order to introduce and advance new ideas in a collegial environment. Flexibility, resourcefulness, and engaging interpersonal skills are essential.
IM is a relatively flat organization, and the director must be comfortable working at all levels of the organization and supporting an entrepreneurial environment in which the partners build and sustain a range of different practices in support of the firm’s mission. The director will be supported administratively by other IM staff, but should be prepared to be very hands-on in preparing materials and working with client-facing teams across all geographies.
Isaacson, Miller (IM) was founded in 1982, and from the beginning, has been committed to strengthening and diversifying leadership in the civic sector. Today, IM conducts searches nationwide and increasingly overseas, across the entire civic sector and across all the core functions of its client organizations. The firm has thriving practices in higher education, including leading universities and colleges at every tier; pre-K-12 education and education improvement; healthcare, with particular depth in academic medicine; conservation, natural resources, and environment; foundations; arts and culture; human and social services; and social justice advocacy organizations, both national and international. While most clients are nonprofits, IM also works occasionally with public agencies and with select for-profit companies, including socially responsible organizations as well as those with ties to education and science.
Over the last decade, the firm has experienced significant growth, with revenues increasing annually 10 percent on average. Thirty partners lead recruiting teams of associates, reference specialists, and search coordinators, all of whom are supported centrally by a knowledge management and search support team and a finance and operations group. Additional full- and part-time staff members, including a cadre of reference specialists, work from home offices around the country. IM is consistently ranked among the 20 largest executive search firms in the United States. IM closed over 300 searches in 2017 and has more than 6000 searches on record.
Since its founding, IM has nurtured a culture of learning and experimentation in a context of warm collegiality, team spirit, shared values, and mission commitment. This dedication to mission and general esprit de corps attracts a remarkably diverse and talented staff, many of whom have held senior leadership positions in universities and colleges, advocacy organizations, public sector agencies, and human services organizations.
The firm made a mission commitment to diversity early in its development. The company has built a consistent and statistically significant record of diversity among its placements in executive positions and on its own staff. Since 1982, 23 percent of the successful candidates in its searches have been people of color and 43 percent have been women. Among the IM staff, 22 percent of employees are people of color and 70 percent are women.
Business Development at Isaacson, Miller
The company’s steady growth over 30 years has been largely organic and incremental — a path that has served IM well and allowed the firm to remain nimble and entrepreneurial. The firm’s belief in the power of exceptional leadership and unwavering commitment to service excellence, integrity, and impact are the foundation of its reputation and have fueled its growth, much of it from repeat clients or direct referrals from clients. In 2017, over 80 percent of IM’s searches were with returning clients.
Revenue generation at IM sits with the partner cadre. Partners develop business and also lead multiple searches simultaneously, guiding the strategy, quality, and successful outcome of those projects. Partners represent the firm externally to current and potential clients, guard the quality of IM’s craft and reputation, develop and steward the relationships that strengthen the firm, and make the essential sales.
Demand in the civic sector for executive search services and appreciation of its value have increased significantly over the last decade. The competitive landscape has shifted considerably. When Isaacson, Miller was founded, there were few executive search firms serving the civic sector. Today, the largest search firms, whose focus is the corporate sector, have all established not-for- profit practices. They are joined by strong, boutique search firms, especially in higher education and health care, and a number of small niche competitors. In light of this changing competitive environment, IM has created the director of business development role to support its partners in their revenue generation efforts and to strengthen the firm’s overall position in the market.
Director of Business Development
The business development director will report to the president and work in close collaboration with the firm’s 30 partners, across all geographies. The director will develop broad business development strategies and plans under the guidance and supervision of the president. The director will work in close collaboration with the firm’s partners and other colleagues to develop compelling proposals and presentations, strengthen marketing communications, and enhance the firm’s competitive posture. Reporting to the director are a proposal development specialist and a marketing assistant, who is responsible for updating website content, tracking client feedback, and coordinating internal communications.
Key responsibilities of the director include:
Proposal process design and execution
Proposals are a core business development activity in the firm. The new director will take a close look at the current process and products and lead the effort to refine both in order to deliver timely, winning proposals to clients. This will require close collaboration and engagement with the firm’s 30 partners, building an understanding of the diverse practices of the firm and organizations served, and sharing marketing and business development expertise. The director will be expected to lead the effort to refresh, catalogue, and maintain key proposal elements, including client lists and proposal language, and also ensure that proposals are individualized and responsive to client needs and circumstances. Engineering a proposal process that moves away from “just in time” proposal delivery is a key goal. The director will personally prepare materials and collaborate with the proposal development specialist, as well as with support staff across the firm who also participate in the proposal process. Once new language and formats are established, the director may also work with key practices to develop attractive and impactful pitch materials, helping to create leave-behind collateral that is specific to each market segment.
Sales and marketing skills development
IM is fairly decentralized, as partners run their own individual practices. The firm has depended on excellence in service as its core market differentiator and, as a result, marketing and sales skills have not been systematically developed across the partner cohort. The director will support efforts to improve those skills and foster a more marketing-focused partner group. Identifying important innovations in the field and from individual partners and then sharing those across the full partner group will contribute to stronger sales and marketing skills.
Market research and relationship management
The executive search market is increasingly competitive and highly dynamic. As appropriate, the director will help partners and practice groups identify third-party market research providers which can help clarify IM’s position overall and in its various niches.
Partners are typically very busy with search execution and generally interact less frequently with clients once a search is completed. In addition, partners may learn of potential new work, but lack the bandwidth to follow up on those leads. The director will therefore support partners in establishing protocols for post-search engagement, exploring new business leads, and identifying key points of contact within targeted institutions.
The director will have oversight responsibility for ensuring that the firm’s website is up-to-date and adopts the evolving language from proposals. It is anticipated that the firm will redesign its website in the next two years, and the director will play a key role in that process. Lastly, the director will provide counsel to partners and practice areas alike about how social media might enhance marketing and business development efforts.
The Ideal Candidate
The director will be an accomplished and resourceful leader and manager with an affinity for IM’s mission, culture, and values. Prior business development or marketing leadership experience in a successful, premium professional services environment or analogous environment is highly desirable. The successful candidate will possess demonstrated success in guiding business development strategy, planning, and execution and will bring many of the following qualifications and attributes:
- Strong relationship management skills and an inclination towards action; the ability to proactively build and steward connections with the firm’s partners, to strategize with them on building their practices, and to serve as their business development thought partner
- Technology facility; comfort with current computer tools and digital marketing
- Data-driven orientation and the ability to foster client and candidate feedback
- Ability to adapt approaches to the multiple and diverse styles of successful client-facing partners and emerging practice areas
- Distinctively strong writing skills; attention to detail and a sophisticated and meticulous grasp of grammar, usage, and style
- Aesthetic sensibility; an eye for clean, classic collateral materials
- Strong oral communication and listening skills; ability to hear and understand other points of view
- Can-do attitude; able to take initiative and work independently, combined with knowing when to ask for guidance
- Excellent time and project management skills; a record of completing tasks on time and within budget
- Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusivity; the cultural competence to work effectively across multiple lines of difference
- Enthusiasm and optimism; flexibility and adaptability; high energy and good humor.
Minimum Education Required
How To Apply
Nominations, inquiries and applications should be addressed electronically in confidence to:
263 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210
Applications should include a professional resume and 1-2 page cover letter.
Isaacson, Miller is committed to diversity in its client work and in its own hiring
and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates in this search.