- Suzen Fromstein
ADAM PEKARSKY, CEO PEKARSKY &CO. "RE HUMANIZING THE EXECUTIVE RECRUITMENT
ADAM PEKARSKY, CEO PEKARSKY &CO
Adam Pekarsky has achieved success as a member of the management team of a national law firm, as a partner in a global executive search firm and as a practicing lawyer. His greatest professional achievement however, is as an entrepreneur. He founded Pekarsky & Co. from his basement in his Calgary home in 2009. From these humble beginnings his firm now has offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto and has successfully executed complex mandates from Vancouver to Halifax. Pekarsky & Co. has also earned a reputation as one Canada’s go-to boutique, executive search firms.
Pekarsky believes his legal background helps him do his job as an executive
recruiter. “When I am in the boardroom presenting the short-list to the
search committee there are similarities to my days in the courtroom
advocating on behalf of my clients. I think my legal training makes it easier
to talk about the role, and the client’s brand and culture, in a logical,
compelling and persuasive way. I would like to think that my analytical and
investigative skills help me assess when there is a good cultural fit and
when there is not. And, above all, a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism
leads to a thorough due diligence process, and ensures that I do whatever it
takes to protect everyone’s brand and reputation, including my own,” he says.
Pekarsky & Co. specializes in executive recruitment in one primary arena –
the corporate head office. As of writing, the firm has successfully
completed more than 500 searches. The difference between a boutique
search firm like Pekarsky & Co. and a global national firm is like the
difference between buying bread at a big box store and buying bread from
a local bakery. Both locations sell bread. However, there is often a
significant difference in customer service, personalization and the client
experience. One of the firm’s best clients, a Human Resources Director with
an Environmental Services company, describes the boutique recruitment
experience as, “…high touch, great communication…they are like an
extension of your own team. It doesn’t have that big artificial feel.”
Adam Pekarsky comes from a family of entrepreneurs, most notably his
grandpa Henry Singer, whose men’s clothing store has been a retail icon in
Alberta for 80 years. But, even he admits with a laugh, good genes and a
legal degree only get you so far.
Pekarsky & Co. has thrived because of its unrelenting focus on customer service, complete transparency and real authenticity. What they may lack in size Pekarsky & Co. makes up in dependability, hustle and smarts.
Each member of their seven-person search team is highly educated,
exceedingly likable and unfailingly professional. The team’s level of
accessibility is unparalleled in the search industry. All Pekarsky & Co.
consultants include their cell phone numbers on their business cards.
“Outside of traditional business hours and even on weekends, if our clients
need to reach us, they can,” Pekarsky says. “While it’s rare for a company
to have a recruitment emergency,” explains Pekarsky, “it’s unacceptable to
not return a call or to reply to an email right away.”
Communication underpins everything the firm does. Over and above the
conversations that normally take place on a daily basis, every Friday, from
project initiation to completion, Pekarsky & Co. clients receive a weekly
status report. This gives clients confidence that the firm is on the job and
holding themselves accountable. “Friday comes very quickly if we haven’t
done right by the search during the preceding seven days,” Pekarsky says.
This commitment to communication is different from the model employed
by the larger search firms, where client contact often only occurs on a
‘Need to Know’ basis.
Every executive search involves literally hundreds of people from the
decision makers within the client organization, to the potential candidates,
to helpful sources, and to the people providing references for the short-
listed candidates. During every step of the recruitment journey, Pekarsky &Co. makes a concerted effort to represent their clients’ brands in the best possible way.
“It takes a village to successfully land a candidate,” says Pekarsky. “We never want people to feel we’ve used them or treated them like inventory on a shelf.”
“Many clients and candidates would rather get a root canal than to interact
with a headhunter. We are doing our best to change that perception and
we approach every touch point with a sense of pride, humor and purpose."
I didn’t go to law school to flick resumes at a wall and hope a few stick. I
went to learn how to become a trusted adviser and that is the role our
team plays every day. Everyone is acknowledged with a handwritten
Thank You note. As well, on the first day at his or her new job, the placed
candidate is greeted with fresh cut flowers, hand-delivered by the consultant that worked on the file,” Pekarsky says.
And, this personalized approach is Pekarsky’s secret sauce. Clients and
candidates consistently describe the firm as being different from everyone
else out there. One of the firm’s clients, the Chief Marketing Officer at a
Law Firm, says Pekarsky & Co. “…re-humanizes recruiters. As an executive
who has interacted with dozens of national and global recruiting firms, (the
firm) is simply the most respectful, collaborative, and ultimately effective
recruiting firm you will find. From a candidate perspective, I felt that I was
truly understood and respected and from a client perspective we are totally
satisfied with finding long term, culturally aligned candidates.”
Because Pekarsky & Co. doesn’t have to pay for high overhead,
international offices or multiple and divergent lines of business, the firm
passes these savings onto its clients with a non-traditional fee structure
that puts the client first. For example, most executive search firms invoice
on a milestone basis, namely, 1/3 at the retainer stage, 1/3 when they get
to short-list and 1/3 when the offer is extended to the finalist candidate -
the search fee is payable in full before the candidate has accepted the offer.
Pekarsky & Co. takes a different approach. A 1/3 retainer is charged when
the company is retained. The remaining 2/3 only becomes due when the
candidate is successfully placed into the role. “We shouldn’t have the lion’s
share of our client’s hard-earned money until they have a great candidate
in the chair,” explains Pekarsky. “Clients shouldn’t pay for process; they
should pay for results.” The firm also backstops the fee with a one-year
guarantee - if the candidate doesn’t work out within a year, the search is
redone, at no additional cost.
The firm provides thought leadership through its monthly newsletter, and
“We Know People” speaker series. The newsletter is distributed to about
9,000 people/month and consistently enjoys a 35% open rate. If you would
like to be added to the distribution list, simply click here.
In the firm’s “We Know People” speaker series, prominent local celebrities, and academic,business and not-for- profit leaders speak to Pekarsky clients in a candid,casual and off-the- record way. As an added benefit, “We Know People”events are usually held in the tasting room in the wine store located in the basement of the firm’s Calgary office.
Pekarsky & Co. also gives back to their community in a way that dwarfs its larger competitors. For example, for the seventh consecutive year the firm will be participating in the Gordie Howe CARES Alzheimer’s hockey tournament and will this year eclipse $400,000 in funds raised.
In June 2015 Adam Pekarsky received a “Business in Calgary Leaders Award,” the first time someone from the search industry was recognized.And in 2016 the firm received an Alberta Venture “Fast 50” award,recognizing the fastest growing companies in Alberta. Although it was gratifying to be honored in these ways, Pekarsky told me that he was just as proud of the many client testimonials his firm has received acknowledging his team, including this one from the Human Resources Manager at an Oil and Gas company, “They are boutique - not only in terms of how they cultivate relationships, but in how they communicate with their clients – the personalization, the whimsy, the open-dialogue – like you’re conversing over coffee. It’s not buttoned up and corporate.” As Pekarsky explains modestly, “It’s all about my team…all they do every day is make me look good.”
When he is not running the day-to- day operations of the firm, writing or speaking on topics of interest to the community, or helping his wife, Sonia,raise their kids – Chloé, Sammy and Jacob (and their dog, Lilly), Adam Pekarsky spends every possible moment he can at what he calls “Pekarsky& Co. Global Headquarters” in the beautiful mountain town of Fernie, BC.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category
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