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Shannon Henry's The Download Live
Discussion with high-tech headhunter Jane-Scott Cantus
1 p.m. Thursday, January 27, 2000

Shannon Henry
Shannon Henry

This week my guest will be high-tech headhunter Jane-Scott Cantus. She joins me to share strategies and stories about finding technology management talent. As tech firms grow and new ones pop up overnight, the demand for experienced managers is high. Jane-Scott is managing director of the Virginia office of executive search firm Christian & Timbers. She's a high-tech headhunter who looks for chief executive officers and other top talent to run technology companies. One of her latest finds was Jim Rutt, the new CEO of Network Solutions. Join us Thursday at 1 P.M. and ask Jane-Scott about the workforce scene, how she finds managers and her views on the hottest places to work. Please submit questions early


Shannon Henry: Welcome Jane-Scott! Could you start out by telling us the basics of how a high tech CEO search works? Does the company give you a list of requirements? Do you have a pool of terrific people just waiting for the right spot?

Jane-Scott Cantus: Hello Shannon! Thank you for inviting me to participate. Your first question is a great fundamental question, so please excuse my verbosity.

A CEO search is a great opportunity to dramatically improve corporate performance. However, if the process is mismanaged, it can be a disappointment. Christian & Timbers has therefore developed a unique methodology on how to most effectively conduct a successful search for a new

Part of the strategy for a CEO search is expecting the unexpected and being prepared to address the surprises.

The first step the Board should take is to appoint the Search Committee. Depending on the circumstances, the current CEO may or may not be a part of this committee.

Early on in the process, it is important to recognize both
the public and private reasons behind the search, discuss the overall parameters of the strategy, and agree on the charter and deliverables of the Search Committee. The recruiter will work with the Search Committee to leverage everyone's experiences and knowledge in developing the characteristics (professional experience and personal characteristics) that would make the ideal candidate. The recruiter and Search Committee work together to develop the "source environment" (those companies and people from which the ideal candidate is likely to come) - then the recruiter begins the active recruitment.

There is no pool of terrific people just waiting for the right spot - although the network of the recruiters is a strong one in guiding the Search Committee toward that ideal CEO.

Miami, Florida.: Are there any companies in the tech sector in DC planning to expand marketing their services to Latin America? Thank you.

Jane-Scott Cantus: Start-up companies focused around the dot com/Internet world are definitely leveraging the fact that the Internet is impervious to geographic borders. There are many companies, such as multicity.com, that are leveraging that attribute in to their service offerings. There are others that are rapidly opening international base camps. Europe has often been the base camp of first choice. Now, in order to avoid the competition, there are many opening "operations" in Asia and Latin America. Look at Zona Financiera and OneSoft.

Arlington, VA: What are the average salaries of the High Tech's top "C's" in the Washington DC metro area? What % is beneifts-perks- & stock options?

Jane-Scott Cantus: In the high tech world, "top Cs" have a range of compensation that involve cash (base salary, cash bonus, and equity) - and the balance depends on 1) stage of company (what are the funding levels or revenues) and 2) what is the overall role of that CEO for the company. There are some general guidelines that we share with our clients and prospective clients, but overall generalizations are difficult to make.

Shannon Henry: As somebody who closely follows the tech industry, what specific job markets do you think will be the hottest in the coming year?

Jane-Scott Cantus: Every year C&T releases a study on the Hot/Not So Hot Jobs - the report is available for review on our website (www.ctnet.com)

To identify the hot and not-so-hot jobs for 2000, we evaluated all of the driving forces that shape the executive job market in corporate America. The analysis took into account the following factors: Demand, Compensation, Quality of Talent Pool and Industry Pressures. Within the High Tech Space, the "Hot Jobs" for Senior Executives include:

CEO, Business-to-Business (b2b) E-commerce Company
Board Member, Fast Growth Company
Venture Capitalist
President, E-commerce, Traditional Business (implementing the e-commerce strategy for other industries)
CFO (with all the bells/whistles - IPO expereince, M&A, international expansion, treasury, accounting, etc.)
Heads of Marketing/Sales (particularly marcomm, brand/product management executives)

Athens, OH: How do you actually find a pool of candidates? Do you get references from contacts or is there a lot of research? Is it both or something else

Jane-Scott Cantus: Great question - there are actually three main avenues for identifying candidates: 1) recruiters' network - which means my personal network and the network of my colleagues within the firm as maintained in our database; 2) "sources" - individuals with whom we speak who understand the requirements of the position and can refer us to individuals who are qualified; 3) pure research - identifying the companies from which we want to recruit, and then identifying the proper person (usually by title versus name) that we then cold call.

Research is a crucial competitive differentiator for top recruiting firms. C&T's research process was developed with speed and accuracy in mind - so we can contact the appropriate potential candidates quickly - which leads to faster search cycles for our clients.

Vienna, VA: When I go to look for a new CFO-CIO, how do I pick the right firm to do the search? Aren't they all pretty much the same or are there specialists? Is it the firm or the executive recruiter that is most important in a successful search?

Jane-Scott Cantus: Selecting a search firm is a balance between institutional capabilities and consultant performance.

It is important to select a search firm that has a good brand and a solid reputation for successfully completing high-level relevant assignments.

Relevant experience, qualities, and capabilities of the lead consultant and support team also serve as an important factor in the selection process.

Each project may have different priorities and therefore may require different attributes from a search team. But personal networks, total business maturity, and the ability to discern leadership attributes are always the most critical aspects to this level of work.

McLean, VA: Are top head-hunters willing to work with early stage start-ups on an equity basis if they are convinced of its potential for success? Is it difficult to get a top head-hunter to even listen to low-cash early stage start-ups?

Jane-Scott Cantus: Hi.

Christian & Timbers does more than half our work with early stage companies - and equity is a definite portion of our agreement. Personally, about 80-90% of my clients are privately-held, rapidly growing, possibly funded, low revenue (but growing!) companies. We look to develop relationships with these growing companies and are willing to put "skin in the game" to do it. Most retained firms will ask that a portion of their fee be in cash and that expenses are covered.

Cleveland, OH: How is the Internet changing the role of recruiting?

Jane-Scott Cantus: The Internet is all about helping businesses impove the way they do business. Executive recruiting included. C&T has and continues to develop improved business processes through technology --

While we do not expect senior-level executives to spend time looking for jobs over the Internet, we feel strongly that the power of the Internet in electronic recruiting goes far beyond mere job postings.

We have found the Internet improves our communication options with clients. We offer our clients the ability to log in to a special site to track the progress of their specific assignments. We are able to speed the process of the search by communicating via email. We have developed a process called "FlashSearch" which is a fairly non-intrusive means for contacting sources and candidates about current projects.

Oakton VA: Is it easy for the CEO from a non-dot com company to make the transition to a dot com company?

Jane-Scott Cantus: It is becoming more prevalent that non dot com executives are being hired in to dot com companies. One reason is the simple reality of the job market - there are over 500 CEO searchs being conducted by retained executive search firms for internet companies today (that does not include the searches being done without the use of the retained firms). The dot com companies are realizing that not all of their executives need to have internet experience - instead, they need to have functional expertise, "transferrable" knowledge (i.e., similar client bases, similar vertical industries, etc.), and the right personal characteristics to exist in a rapidly-changing, rapidly-growing, fast-fast-fast moving environment where oftentimes regular "rules" don't apply (i.e., there is no rigid hierarchy or chain of command; rewards are based on performance not seniority) - - it is the potential of non dot com executives to make these transitions that will open their opportunities to internet companies.

Arlington, VA: In your opinion, what areas of the country are experiencing the most growth in the hi-tech sector?

Jane-Scott Cantus: Rapid growth is occuring in Northern Virginia, Austin, TX, Atlanta, GA, New York City (particularly new media) -- growth continues in Silicon Valley/Bay area, LA (particularly in Media/Entertainment), Boston. There are other pockets of high tech presence (Research Traingle), but the density and "home runs" of start-ups/high tech growth is still evolving.

McLean, VA: What does it take to be a good recruiter. There are those who understand management challenges by virtue of their own experiences but they don't usually understand our new businesses. Those who are young enough to be e-literate, often don't know much about managing. Where's the break in determining a good recruiter?

Jane-Scott Cantus: The break is in finding an executive recruiter that has a high degree of intellectual curiousity - and general smarts to figure things out or figure out how to find the answers. He/she should be curious about technology; curious about management styles; curious about industry trends; and curious enough to be able to ask the smart questions from the proper sources.

Leesburg, VA: I am a Marketing analyst with a BA in Accounting and an MBA and am interested in making a career move to information technology. The problem is that I can't afford to quit my current job to take training in IT. Are you aware of any employers that will hire you if you have potential and train or educate you on the job? Also, are there any good after work programs locally that you would recommend?

Jane-Scott Cantus: There are a number of ways to augment your education with technological experience. For instance, there are the technology certificate programs offered by the area universities. The Northern Virginia Campus of UVA has started a number of technology related programs (e-commerce, I/T, etc.) that are offered for full-time workers in the area. They would also be a good resource for names of companies willing to train new technology workers.

Shannon Henry: How many people do you usually interview before you find the right person? What are the attributes of a great tech CEO?

Jane-Scott Cantus: The attributes of a "great CEO" will differ from company to company depending on the strengths of the overall management team. If I were to think of one characteristic for a great CEO it would be adaptability. Adaptability to new technologies, rapid change, a global force of knowledge-workers teleworking without human interaction, and work environments that attract/retain the best and brightest.

Rocky Gorge, MD: Can you comment on the hottest companies in the DC area which are focusing on the B2B -bus to bus- web opportunities? thanks.

Jane-Scott Cantus: There are a bunch of really great B2B companies in this area - at all stages of the growth cycle. Two companies that I know well and really like are worldweb.net and webmethods - both have strong technologies, good targeted customers, strong management teams and advisory boards, and the ability to grow and adapt to each stage of its development. ChamberBiz is a raw start-up with only six people on board and a killer plan. This region has a wealth of B2B technologies and companies which is great for us - in the end, the B2B technologies will become the blue chip stocks.

Shannon Henry: Where geographically are you finding the best talent? What areas are hottest and what are some of the fundamental differences you are seeing among tech centers?

Jane-Scott Cantus: We recruit nationally and internationally - but there are some general pockets of talent that track nicely with the traditional industries - advertising/marketing/PR talent is dense in New York and LA - great areas from which to recruit Marketing talent. We have an easier time recruiting from the East Coast/South to Northern Virginia then from the West Coast - but that is a trend that is starting to soften. Northern Virginia is very much being recognized as a hot bed of new technologies, and great opportunities.

Shannon Henry: We're out of time. Thanks for all the great questions, and to Jane-Scott for your thoughtful answers. Bye!

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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