The Key to Success in Executive Search: An Interview with Vanessa Dalas
7 March 2023
Identifying and recruiting exceptional leaders is at the heart of our business as a global executive search and leadership consulting organization. But what makes IIC Partners consultants so consistently successful across vastly different geographies and industries?
The first answer that arises is our shared approach towards clients and candidates: all member firms follow strict professional standards that allow for strategic partnerships to grow from a base of collaboration and trust.
There is no one better to demonstrate this in action than Vanessa Dalas, Partner and Manager of the Insurance Practice at Progress in Paris. Here is her story:
“I began working in executive search 15 years ago, specializing in the insurance sector after changing from my initial career as a Lawyer.
My career switch came in an unexpected way: I originally applied for a position as a lawyer, but during the recruitment process, I became excited by the positive impact on individuals and businesses, and I joined their insurance practice as a researcher instead.
Many of the connections from the start of my career have progressed alongside me, building a strong network throughout the insurance industry in France. It makes me feel truly supported and embedded in the market here.
Over the years, many clients have later become candidates, and the same is true for candidates becoming clients. It has been incredible to support many careers and businesses along the way.”
Building New Connections
“I take two or three general meetings per week with executive candidates to build relationships and see where I can help. I listen attentively to their career story and ask where they would like to go next. I strive to get to know these leaders on a much deeper level than can be achieved through a CV.
If they are actively searching for a role, I see if they are a match for my current assignments or for searches managed by my colleagues. I can also offer insights into where they might thrive and any advice for their careers that comes to mind. By having an attitude of service to others, you find people approach you in the same way.
Many of the candidates that I place in positions or help with their careers later become clients or recommend me to their network, and the majority of my business comes from valued connections throughout the Insurance industry. It shows that building strong relationships is the core requirement to success in executive search.”
Orchestrating the Match
“When it comes to my clients, discretion, trust, and care are the leading words to describe my approach. I build long-lasting relationships and get to know the business and culture of each client on a deep level, allowing me to look beyond job descriptions and truly understand their needs.
I maintain a ‘talent map’ of leading executives in the Insurance industry and have a network that spans all of the major players. I look to match candidates that meet the organization’s current state, but I also take time to understand the business strategy so I can see how they will grow together and confront the challenges ahead.
There are no standard or perfect candidates: only people that have the skills to match a given situation. I am always looking for a win-win scenario where a leader has as much to offer as the hiring company.”
“My approach based on trust and collaboration is shared by my 400+ colleagues across the world as part of IIC Partners. This network of leading consultants with shared values allows us to partner across markets to successfully deliver cross-border searches.
I have partnered with Hoffman in Belgium, Level Consulting in Switzerland, and Marlière and Gerstlauer in Luxembourg, to name just a few firms I have collaborated with on international assignments. Being part of IIC Partners allows Progress to remain dedicated and specialized to our local market while giving us global reach.”
Vanessa Dalas is a Partner and the Manager of the Insurance Practice at Progress in Paris and a member of the IIC Partners Global Board of Directors. She specialises in the Insurance sector, managing executive search assignments for national and international companies, provident institutions, pension funds, insurance brokers, reinsurance, insurance groups, and corporate risk managers. Vanessa Dalas has been working for Progress since 2008.