Egon Zehnder

Shane Williams is a human-capital and executive-search consultant at Egon Zehnder International. After earning his PhD in biochemistry at Cambridge, Williams completed his postdoctoral work at Harvard-MIT, then moved into consulting. Williams does not focus on media positions, but a growing number of search consultants who do are also certified as human-capital strategists. Jay Woodruff interviewed him in May.

Give us your tweetable definition of a human-capital strategist. A trusted adviser enabling business leaders to solve their most difficult challenges with talent.

How much of your time is spent undoing the damage inflicted by traditional, nonhuman, capital-strategist-type recruiters? Executive search does have some image problems, but I’m sure we all aspire to identify high-quality candidates and provide insight on the evolving business landscape. It’s a hard job.

How has recruiting changed in the digital age? The level of available data on candidates is significantly greater than even a few years ago. This can be invaluable if candidates want to promote their personal brand. However, future employers are only a few clicks away from your posts, pictures, tags, etc.

How’d you get into this racket? I’m a scientist by training, but I discovered I had a passion for people in strategy consulting, and later focused on leadership assessment when I moved to industry. I was subsequently a candidate for a biotech search and became intrigued. Before I knew it, I was on the other side of the table.

What tips do you have for people hoping to move from traditional occupations to digital-age occupations? Find something you love doing, not what you think will be the wave of the future. Regularly do a quick vanity search or setup a Google Alert. Hopefully, what happened in Vegas, remained in Vegas.

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Jay Woodruff is a former editor at Esquire, Entertainment Weekly and, and is the co-founder of Affinity Resource Group, a Montclair-based recruiting firm focused on digital media and technology