The Future of Executive Research in Europe & Africa: Why it Matters to Organizational Leaders

Q&A with AESC’s Kelsey Goggin and Pam Sohal

Kelsey, introduce yourself and tell us about your role at AESC?

I am the Manager of Education & Outreach at AESC. In my role at AESC, I am responsible for overseeing the professional development programs for researchers and associates, such as the AESC Certified Researcher Associate program, Certificate in Client Relationship Management program, and other events for researchers and associates. 

And Pam, tell us about your role at AESC?

I work alongside Clare Mahon, AESC Managing Director of the Europe and Africa region, as Manager of Europe and Africa. We are responsible for a strong membership in the region that adheres to AESC Standards of Excellence and the AESC Code of Professional Practice, as well as managing the process of acquiring new AESC members. We make sure all of our members are engaged with AESC programming and the future of the profession, and we always ensure they are getting valuable support to stay at the top of the profession. We do this through a number of ways: for example, producing events and conferences in the region that allow our members to gain valuable insights on trends impacting global business and also ensuring they have access to best practices and maximize their AESC membership benefits.

Approximately how many executive search researchers and associates are within AESC membership? And how about in Europe?

Pam: We have more than 3,000 executive search researchers and associates worldwide within AESC membership. More than 1,000 are based in Europe and Africa.

What do today’s AESC member executive search researchers and associates do? What value does this provide the client organizations that partner with AESC member executive search and leadership consulting firms?

Kelsey: Today’s AESC member executive search researchers and associates are vital in the search process. They actively participate in designing search and business development strategy, from the pitch through to candidate development. In addition, researchers and associates are tasked with networking and building strong relationships with senior executives (as potential candidates or clients) and assessing executives against the client’s requirements.

Client organizations benefit from partnering with AESC member firms because they have a deep understanding of their respective sectors, are committed to an exemplary Code of Professional Practice, and deploy unmatched resources to each assignment.

What are some of the current trends impacting the role of executive search researchers and associates?

Kelsey: Social media helps executive search researchers and associates identify, analyze, and vet candidates before they are even contacted. However, researchers and associates cannot develop relationships through technology alone, and not all information found online is complete or accurate. For those reasons, one cannot source candidates on the internet alone. As a result, we are seeing more emphasis placed on telephone outreach. 

AESC hosts Researchers and Associates Forums. What are you trying to provide researchers and associates through these events?

Kelsey: Our Forums provide researchers and associates with cutting-edge professional insights in a dynamic, non-competitive, interactive environment. The focus is on sharing best practices, emerging research techniques and tools, and different approaches to the challenges faced by researchers, associates and other search professionals as they carry out their duties.

Pam: In London, we have created an agenda that will not only focus on core strengths needed for the researcher and associate role now, but also look to the future of the profession and the skills which will be needed. This is perfect for executive search professionals who are responsible for research aspects of the search process and want to increase their professional skills and knowledge.

Who are some of the speakers and what content will they be covering?

Kelsey: The speakers at the researchers and associates forum vary year to year. With each forum we host, we provide sessions of relevance to the research audience. This includes sessions on the future of the profession, skills sessions geared toward responsibilities of researchers and associates, as well as sessions on trends impacting the business of executive search. 

Pam: For our London Forum, we have invited a variety of experts and globally renowned executive research leaders. Our thought leaders will ensure you take away invaluable insights and best practices. The speakers include Sandor Lokenburg from People Sourcing Crew who will be showing creative ways of sourcing candidates through unconventional means. Expert trainer, Rachel Roche will deliver an interactive session on telephone sourcing and networking. Carol O'Driscoll of Archer Search will be exploring best practices in the search process from the perspective of the researcher. Finally, we have Professional Comedian and Improv Instructors, Steve Roe and Katy Schutte, discussing candidate engagement through improv games and exercises. We’ll also have AESC member firms participating in question and answer panel discussions.

The key point is that this will not just be a day of taking notes, but instead, a full day of interaction ensuring you get as much out of it as possible.

What insights would you like the researchers and associates who to take away after the events?

Kelsey: The agenda at the forums is packed with interactive sessions that will allow researchers and associates to ask questions, role play, and share techniques that will have a real impact on all aspects of their work, from sourcing through to candidate development. 

Takeaways will include:

  • How to creatively source and network using the telephone and through the internet
  • How to make and maintain strong conversations, and how staying present in the moment can lead to stronger business relationships

How will the event ultimately benefit client organizations that partner with AESC member executive search and leadership consulting firms?

Pam: As Kelsey, mentioned, client organizations benefit from partnering with AESC member firms because of their deep industry knowledge, their unwavering commitment to professional excellence, and their deployment of unmatched resources to each assignment. As the global association for the profession and the standards-setting body, we therefore provide as much professional support to AESC members as possible to ensure they stay at the top and ahead of the trends. We do this through a number of ways like conferences, forums, educational programs, etc.  Ultimately, attending events like our Researchers and Associates Forums provide AESC members with invaluable insights to help them deliver competitive business advantages to their clients.

Executive search researchers and associates are invited to join AESC at our upcoming Forums in London, Toronto and Dubai. To register, or for more information, please visit