Korn/Ferry International is a global talent management business. The company partners with the world’s leading businesses to attract, integrate, develop, and retain key staff, critical to the success of the business. Korn/Ferry International is also the principal sponsor of Opera Holland Park. At first glance, the internal logic of this relationship may not be immediately obvious. Why would a top flight global executive search firm want to partner with and provide support and hard cash to a musical event established by a local council that makes a virtue of the fact that it blends well established ‘stars’ with exciting, emergent singers? The answer is simple: both organisations share a strong mission to nurture and develop talent. And the success of the event bears testament to the benefits the relationship brings to all involved.
The relationship between Korn/Ferry and Opera Holland Park started officially in the 2006 season. When the two parties met, they quickly realised that their interests were aligned and that working together would make a lot of sense. For Giles Crewdson, Managing Director of the London office of Korn/Ferry International, the attractions of an association with Opera Holland Park were clear from the outset. Primarily, Korn/Ferry was intrigued by the possibility of helping support new and developing talent in the arts, given that its own remit is to identify and nurture talent in a business environment.
The accessibility of the festival – both geographically, being held in central London, and financially with its affordable ticket prices – was another decider. With patrons of Opera Holland Park drawn from across the social spectrum, the event’s aim of making opera accessible is clearly paying off. “The diversity is a natural fit,” says Crewdson. Michael Volpe of The Royal Borough agrees. “Korn/Ferry’s business cuts across all sectors. The guests they bring to our event introduce us to a whole new range of people, professions and enterprises and some might also become patrons and followers of Opera Holland Park,” he says. But both stress that the relationship isn’t simply about Korn/Ferry getting its name on the programme and bringing influential people – who may eventually become supporters – along to performances. The symbiosis runs much deeper. For those involved in running Opera Holland Park, the relationship with Korn/Ferry has been inspirational and has raised performance levels across the board. “Overall it’s been very beneficial for the staff of a small organisation like Opera Holland Park to have to deal on a day-to-day basis with Korn/Ferry staff,” says Volpe. He elaborates: “Korn/Ferry is a highly professional organisation that works to the highest standards. For our people, working alongside Korn/Ferry has been a valuable lesson in the importance of professionalism. Involvement in organising events to which Korn/Ferry people invite their most important clients, for example, gives our staff a hands-on experience of top-level professional protocol.”
For Korn/Ferry, the opportunity to work in close proximity with a company whose primary goal is to develop young talent in the arts has helped broaden its approach to the art and science behind executive search in the business world. Korn/Ferry’s Crewdson sees many parallels between a musical ensemble and a business: “If you look at the make-up and internal dynamics of an orchestra or an opera company, it’s not difficult to see analogies and comparisons with the business world. In any business, whether it employs 10 people in one office or 100,000 staff globally, success depends on the ability of leaders to align interest and motivate,” he says. “A business enterprise is only as good as the people it employs. But above and beyond that, extracting the most value from this talent is key to its success,” Crewdson adds.
At Korn/Ferry, which has over 70 offices in 41 countries, benchmarking skills and cultural fit is key to what the firm does in its day-to-day operations, allied with a strong understanding that successful recruitment goes way beyond simply hiring the right people. Staff must be successfully integrated and developed to enable them to thrive. Indeed, the same can be said of any body of people that comes together with a common goal -whether it’s selling enterprise software globally or staging a series of opera performances that will launch young artists on to the next stage of their careers as they head for international renown and success. “It’s been a privilege to be associated with something that’s so outstandingly successful,” says Korn/Ferry’s Crewdson.