Expert Interview with BRANDT HANDLEY – What CEO’s are looking for from their leaders!

February 7, 2017, by , Posted in Blog,Leadership,LEADERtips, 0 Comment

To kick off our Ball of Fire EXPERT INTERVIEW series, I wanted to ask Brandt Handley, Managing Director of Resource Options International, Inc... also known as ROI, about the challenges and needs of his CEO clients.

Brandt works directly with Middle Market CEO’s to find top leadership talent their organizations need to grow. They own or manage about 200,000 companies in the USA that range in size from $10MM to $1BN in annual sales, employ about 50 MM staff and their businesses grew +6% over the last 12 months or about double the national average.

The interview:

brandt-handley-bio-picQuestion 1. What are the top challenges your CEO clients experience in seeking and hiring top ‘female’ talent?

From Brandt – Securing Top Middle Talent, Male or Female, comes down to three key areas: (1) Attraction — They don’t know how to go about marketing their Employer Brand, (2) Affordability — They think they have to pay more for top talent because they don’t have a viable Employee Value Proposition, and (3) Retention — They don’t have an effective Retention Regimen to keep Top Talent employed even if they get over the first two challenges!

Follow-up Question – Regarding attraction and retention – are you saying that company CEO’s are not sure how to market themselves in a way that showcases the value, benefit and opportunities for growth a potential executive would have once on board?

From Brandt – Yes that is correct. Also, as many middle market companies are still private, nobody knows their name and what they stand for. Yet many middle market firms have wonderful, engaging cultures that our Fortune 500 candidates appreciate very much and adapt to without a problem once they know more about them.

ROI helps our clients define and then communicate their “Employer Brand” so that these A-Players get their minds open to the opportunities at these companies because while a CEO or C-Suite position in title may be attractive to them, if they know nothing about the company and what they stand for, they will not likely engage in any attempt to be attracted to that position.

Hence, while we help them with their Attraction problem.

Follow-up Question – Affordability – the Employee Value Proposition (EVP), is this the direct link to the issue created in #1 – attraction. Even if they have a strong proposition, they don’t believe in it and/or know how to communicate that?

From Brandt – Yes and no. To clarify, another problem that our clients have is they think that even if they were able to attract Top Talent, they would be too expensive to hire and would have to pay a premium for these candidates to join their firm vs. a larger, more recognized organization. This is not true. We help our middle market clients develop an EVP that combines base salary, short and long-term incentives, sometimes far different than what Fortune 500 companies can or are willing to do for a candidate, that differentiates middle market companies and doesn’t cost them the farm. There are also several other non-cash incentives that middle market firms can offer that larger firms can’t that make them as attractive, if not more so.

Question 2. What are the key leadership traits your CEO client is expecting those leaders to come to the table with?

From Brandt – Again, no difference, male or female: (1) Competence — Expertise to do the job at hand with little or no oversight by the CEO, (2) Training — Ability to develop their direct staff to their highest level of capability, and (2) Innovation — Curiosity to always finding a better way of doing things.

Follow-up Question – Training – is this broader than training, to include mentoring, coaching and leading their staff to higher capability?

From Brandt – yes, it involves all means of developing a staff’s level of capability.

Question 3. What changes have there been in qualifying, hiring and onboarding top female talent in today’s diversity climate?

From Brandt – Unfortunately, not enough has changed. Middle Market CEOs don’t fully understand the benefit of gender diversity on their Executive Team or in their Boardrooms. There are still a number of prejudices and misbeliefs about women’s long-term commitment to a career, the value that they add to the business and how effectively they can work with others.

Question 4. What are 1-3 tips you would have for female executives who are looking to up their game, take on greater roles, and be sought out by your clients?

From Brandt – (1) Recognizing that the unfortunate reality is that female executives are held to a higher standard than male executives today and they need to be prepared to meet or exceed those standards to get the right career opportunity, (2) Getting a successful business person mentor who understands the challenges that female executives face today, they can be male or female, but should be at least a decade older than you, that can be a sounding board for your career direction and provide coaching on key challenges, and (3) Being persistent, don’t take “No” for an answer and press on. Persistence, dedication and a willingness to never give up will likely always win out an older, male executive’s prejudice from Question (3) above!



Brandt Handley is an accomplished executive with experience in large multinational corporations, start-up enterprises, and Middle Market companies. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior-level operational and general management positions, recruiting top executive talent, and in international sales and marketing leadership roles with Fortune 50 companies. Following a 20-year career with Procter & Gamble and Walt Disney, Brandt established ROI in 2009 to better serve the growing talent management needs of Middle Market companies. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business from the University of Oregon and completed the Advanced Management Program at The Wharton School of Business.

ROILogoResource Options International, Inc. or ROI is a boutique, retained executive search, coaching and organizational development firm. Headquartered in Santa Barbara with an office in New York City, we assist middle market companies or those with annual sales between $10 million and $1 billion to recognize, recruit and retain top talent at the CXO, VP and Director levels. We are industry and discipline agnostic, as we believe that the talent management needs and requirements of our Middle Market clients have much more in common than their industry sector or functional differences. We deliver superior integrity and competency in our unique client services approach to executive search. If you want to have a conversation with Brandt Handley, Managing Director, ROI, book a ROI Strategy Call below.

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