David Barrett – Searching for Leaders (EP.26)


David Barrett is the founder of David Barrett Partners, a leading executive search firm focused exclusively on buy-side asset management. Prior to founding DBP in 2005, he spent 19 years in the search business, including long stints at Russell Reynolds Associates and Heidrick and Struggles. He began his career as a self-professed failed equity research analyst in the early 1980s.  David is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University Business School.

In just the last two years, David’s firm has completed searches for the Chief Investment Officer positions at Harvard University, Dartmouth College, University of Texas Investment Management Company, TIFF, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, each a multi-billion dollar pool of assets.

Our conversation explores the search process for senior asset allocators, including the business of search, the interview process, governance structures, and trends. Anyone with a thought to navigating their career will pick up nuggets of insight throughout the conversation.

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Show Notes

3:22 – How David got into search

4:56 – Explaining search as a business

6:44 – Competition with other search firms

7:13 – How to be a customer-centric business

8:59 – The search process

10:31 – The science side of search and where to find candidates

12:10 – Comparing the track records of candidates

13:09 – The art side of search

14:32 – Assessing the selected candidates

15:45 – What David looks for in interviews

16:50 – Presenting the candidates to the client

17:58 – Which opinions are included in search

19:22 – Measuring success

21:36 – The “easiest” searches

22:47 – Working with clients whose preferences are different from David’s

25:29 – David’s biggest mistake

26:49 – Dealing with fee pressure

28:16 – Use of technology

29:46 – Biggest challenge in search

33:45 – Closing questions