Two global headhunting firms, TMP Worldwide and Heidrick & Struggles, have each announced the departure of a key executive as the recruitment industry battles against the economic downturn.
TMP Worldwide said Steve Potter, the CEO of its executive search division, TMP Search, was "leaving to pursue other interests at the conclusion of his contract, which expires at the end of this week."
A former TMP partner said of Potter's departure: "I am really surprised. Potter is highly intelligent, and has been the driving force behind the business."
In August, TMP Worldwide reported an increase in second quarter profits. But these were led by its online recruitment arm, Monster.com. The firm said commissions and fees at its executive search division had fallen by one third.
TMP Worldwide said that with the departure of Potter, John McLaughlin, who has been at the firm for 16 years, was assuming management responsibility at TMP Search.
Potter had been the chief architect of TMP Worldwide's search business since 1999, when the company bought his niche search firm, Highland Search
Earlier this month TMP Worldwide lowered its earnings estimates for the third and fourth quarters of 2001, citing the impact on the economy of the attacks on New York on September 11th .
Heidrick & Struggles, another recruitment giant, has announced that its chief financial officer, Donald Kilinski, will leave at the end of this year. The firm, whose headquarters is in Chicago, said Kilinski had opted to step out of the role and return to his native New York. A search had begun for his replacement.
Earlier this month Heidrick & Struggles said it was conducting a review of its activities that was likely to affect most elements of its business, including headcount.
The firm said in June that it was shedding 13% of its workforce globally. Its share price has fallen to just above $14 from a high of $62 last year.
Hunt-Scanlon, the US recruitment industry newswire, has said that senior partners at Heidrick & Struggles recently sold substantial stakes in it, "signifying to many insiders and Wall Street analysts that a major improvement in business is not expected anytime soon."
The largest individual shareholder in Heidrick & Struggles is Brian Sullivan, head of the global financial services practice.
Two weeks ago Korn/Ferry International, another global search firm, announced the departure of Michael Bekins, its chief operating officer. It said it did not intend to replace the position.
Korn/Ferry said its revenues fell 34% in the three months to the end of April this year, compared to the same period last year.
In August this year the firm said it was cutting 20% of its workforce, or 500 people. That followed an announcement in February that it was cutting 10% of its US staff.