Top Lessons learned at AESC's Chicago Researchers' & Associates Forum

On October 6th, we hosted the AESC Researchers’ & Associates’ Forums in Chicago. The theme of the Forum was on empowering executive search. We had sessions covering the core skills from telephone sourcing, techniques and methods for effective research, to how to incorporate the principals of improvisation into your outreach with candidates. These sessions were extremely well reviewed, with 100% of survey respondents rating the Forum’s content as ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Good’ and saying that they would be open to attending more AESC events in the future.

In the kickoff session,Conni LaDouceur,President & Chief Sourcing Strategist of ExecuQuest, provided some extremely useful tips on name generation. One of her top tips for getting correct information from sourcing calls was to ask the same question in three different ways. Secondly, she recommended phone research and outreach in a time when everyone has access to the same data, phone research and outreach continues to distinguish great search professionals, their client companies', and quality of the candidates they bring forward.When conducting outreach and sourcing calls, Casey Whitaker, Professional Comedian and Improv Instructor, discussed the importance of active listening and other unique takes on communication using example sourcing and outreach conversations.  Casey explained this through the “Yes, and” principle of improvisation. “Yes, and” is about accepting and building on what is offered. It's about listening fully, then responding. The exercise showed the importance of fully listening to the person on the other end opposed to going off a prewritten script.  

During the first panel session, we were fortunate to be joined by executive search professionals from Korn Ferry, Daubenspeck and Associates, and Witt/Kieffer. When asked about how the demands of clients have changed, they agreed that candidate and client intimacy is important for the future of executive search. While technology enables new tools and opportunities for innovation, this places even more importance on the need for trusted human relationships.

Our second panel discussion took an inward look at the profession, exploring how to engage and attract talent within executive search firms. Our esteemed panel included search professionals from Slayton Search Partners, Spencer Stuart, TRANSEARCH, and Odgers Berndtson. They discussed the need for professional development in order to keep staff invested for the long haul. Noting the importance that the previous panel had placed on trusted personal relationships, it is crucial for executive search firms to build compelling development and retention strategies to engage their top performers.

We were fortunate to also be joined by speakers from Cluen – who discussed the impact of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn – and Invenias – who discussed creating high-value data – and IIPE – who shared insights on the science of sourcing. The event was well attended by more than 50 researchers and associates.

For more information about the Researchers’ & Associates’ Forum, please contact Kelsey Goggin at