Back and Forward: Diane Miller

President of Wilcox Miller & Nelson on executive recruitment

Back Q&A Jul 2, 2018

Diane Miller, president of Wilcox Miller & Nelson, offers her insight into executive recruitment. For more from Miller, check out “MBA Makeover” in our July issue. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.

Photo: courtesy

What’s the biggest change in executive recruitment in the past year?

WMN recruits at the ‘C’ and board levels, and the recruitment challenges are … finding exceptional candidates who are at the top of their game. This challenge has always been there, but the big twist now is that the ‘top of their game’ definition has a significant technology aspect — and technology changes fast. Companies can disappear seemingly overnight.

It is challenging for executives to keep on top of these changes and at the same time, boards are increasingly demanding disruptive innovation. Recruiting executives who have failed fast and learned fast is difficult due to the scarcity of that pool.

What do you foresee as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?

WMN specializes in … three lines of business — retained executive search, governance consulting and executive transition. Interestingly, the biggest change/challenge in each is the same; leaders keeping up with rapid-fire changes, aka lifelong learning. If they do not, they will be passed over for a CEO job, board seat, next opportunity. Leaders need to be obsessed about the future; and that means knowing what that looks like.

Kodak, a famed name and major brand, became irrelevant when they failed to recognize digital was the way to go. IBM, rightly proud of Watson, panicked when in 2017 DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero learned super-human chess in less than four hours.  

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