Advancing leadership through effective candidate searches

AGB Search specializes in all aspects of executive searches for higher education institutions

One of the most challenging aspects of hiring in higher education is recruiting and retaining top talent. Laurie Joyner, the president of Saint Xavier University in Chicago, was seeking to fill the vice president for finance and administration position, and she did not hesitate in reaching out to AGB Search, a firm that focuses on higher education executive searches.

AGB Search has conducted more than 500 successful searches for institutions ranging from small private colleges to large public institutions and systems. Its consultants have wide-ranging higher-education knowledge and experience that help search committees identify the best candidates for their institution. AGB Search emphasizes leadership, relationships, professionalism, integrity, inclusivity and sustainability—values that guide decision-making and interactions with institutions when building a candidate pool.

Quality time

AGB Search spends time getting to know institutions through in-person visits that not only cover meetings with a search committee, but also with other members of the senior leadership team, potential direct reports of the hiring position and an open meeting that anyone can attend. This helps AGB Search develop a thorough understanding of the needs and culture of an institution and identify the best pool of candidates.

“This is one of those things that distinguishes AGB Search from other firms,” Joyner says. 

Joyner adds that AGB Search did “a very comprehensive job” in helping launch its executive search. AGB Search provides the charge to the committee, outlines the process and timelines, and drafts the leadership profile to build a qualified, inclusive pool of candidates. AGB Search also manages the all-electronic application process. Once there is an initial list of candidates, AGB Search begins background and reference checks. It also facilitates off-campus interviews for those candidates on the initial list and in-person interviews for the eventual finalists for the position.

“It’s helpful, as it’s just a labor-intensive process,” Joyner says. “It makes a lot of sense having a search firm that you can trust to manage the process in a conscientious and professional way.”

Industry knowledge

Search committee members told Joyner that the AGB Search consultant they worked with had extensive knowledge of their candidates. The consultant knew particular skill sets and whether candidates might be willing to move to Chicago. This was a big benefit in matching qualified candidates to the university without Joyner or the search committee having to figure that out on their own.

“That’s the real return on investment,” Joyner says. “I always have great confidence working with AGB Search that we truly find the very best person for the job. I don’t think we would be nearly as successful trying to do that on our own.”

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