Interview: Objectives and value addition for IESF starting 2022 going forward

Gertjan van de Groep

IESF is a federation with 22 partners worldwide. This federation is led by a voluntary Leadership Council and managed by a Presidency, which rotates every 3 years. At the last Annual Grand Meeting in Barcelona in October ’21, former President Victor Carulla, from IESF Spain (Headway Executive Search) handed over the Presidency to Gertjan van de Groep, from IESF The Netherlands (Van de Groep & Olsthoorn Executive Search). In this interview with the new President, we would like to know: What is the main goal of IESF and the value to its local partners? How does international executive search work? And finally: What are the new targets or leadership goals for IESF during his time of presidency?

‘First of all I would like to articulate that my predecessor Victor Carulla did a really great job in professionalizing IESF further. He developed several ways within IESF to stimulate communication and sharing of best practices between partners, such as IESF Industry Groups and the Brainstorming Group. During his presidency IESF also integrated an evaluation system, a professional intranet and developed partnership with new partners in the US, Europe and South American region.’

What exactly is IESF? And what do you mean by: Global reach, local knowledge?

‘International Executive Search Federation is one of the world’s most recognized international executive search groups. Identifying talent and leadership in 50 offices and 22 countries, we are globally known as “The Local Experts” because we understand regional markets and their specific needs when it comes to executive recruitment. We offer a fully customized, local approach to search projects, based on culture, regional economics, and the local candidate marketplace. Our search process is optimized to the local culture.’

What is your local advantage in being part of IESF?

‘There are many reasons why we are a part of IESF since 2015. With our partners we share knowledge, business insights, market developments and new services. Being part of IESF helps us improve our local quality and be one step ahead of the market developments. Besides sharing knowledge, we are now also able to deliver the same quality of executive search to our clients worldwide. We know all our partners personally and work on international searches together. This way our teams combine strengths and match the best candidates to our clients. Without losing your local experience and boutique executive search focus, we’re now able to service our clients everywhere in the world. And finally, also for candidates who have international career ambitions IESF is of great value.’

Can you share some numbers and success stories as examples?

‘IESF was founded in 2002. So, in 2022 we’re proud to celebrate our 20th anniversary. In this period, we have a lot of successful projects realized worldwide. The average is multiple projects each month. The position varies from a CEO, Country Manager, VP Operations, Marketing Director, CFO to HR Director. Across several sector practices we’re able to support clients at management, director, and c-level. Each year IESF hands out two awards. One for the Assignor of the year, the firm that gives the most assignments to other IESF partners. And one for the Assignee, the firm that works on the most international assignments in their country. Each month we try to share a client case article to demonstrate how we operate; you can find them at’  

When we look at IESF now and going forward, where do you want to put emphasize on with your leadership?

‘I would like to focus on 3 pillars for the next leadership period of 3 years: First, to expand our Partner Network. We’re still actively searching for strong partners in certain areas, for example: the UK, Latin-America, Australia, South Africa, Asia, and the United Arab Emirates region. It’s a critical search in which we will work together closely with our existing partners. We’re searching for high quality boutique firms with similar standards and business processes. Besides expanding I also want to focus on retaining existing partnerships. We will work on a partner satisfaction research and implement improvements. The second pillar is all about Thought Leadership, generating engagement and added value for our partners and our client network. Within IESF there’s a lot of knowledge and we are sometimes too humble to share. We will start working on frequent Marketing according to a theme calendar and this way want to increase our visibility. Not only for our external network, but also increase sharing & learning within IESF firms, by setting up a newsletter and an IESF Academy with webinars and articles on interesting topics for our partners. The third pillar is our focus on professionalism & transparency. We will work on an IESF Quality standard and a new offer for multicountry assignments. I look forward to lead IESF for the upcoming 3 years together with the Leadership Council and our newly appointed Advisory Board.’

About the author

Gertjan van de Groep


Gertjan Van de Groep (1970) is Managing Director at Van de Groep & Olsthoorn. He focuses on General, Commercial and Technical staff and management positions in Industry, Technology and Logistics.

Gertjan graduated in 1993 as a Bachelor of Engineering in Utrecht, then pursued a leadership development program at Nyenrode Business University. He started his career as a Production/Lean Engineer and later as a Management Trainee in Logistics. In 1997, he started as Consultant at Van de Groep & Olsthoorn, the company that his father Wim founded in 1979. Gertjan became Director in 2007. His new set of consulting, entrepreneurship and management functions fit him like a glove.

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