Claudia Paoletti, Managing Partner of Kilpatrick, has been an integral part of the company since the early stages together with founders Jaap Hoekstra and Cristina Spagna.
In this interview Claudia provides some insights into Kilpatrick’s approach to finding executive and middle managers for its clients. Moreover, she gives some insights into the multicultural working environment of the company and the commitment of Kilpatrick’s consultants to the issues of orientation of young people in the world of work, sustainability and diversity and inclusion.
How did you come into contact with Jaap and Cristina and end up at Kilpatrick as Managing Partner?
My path crossed with Cristina and Jaap’s in 2003, when they had just acquired Kilpatrick. It was love at first sight! With energy, after years of working in a company and a stint in another headhunting boutique, I threw myself into their adventure by embracing a project that aimed to support Italian companies that were preparing to internationalize their businesses and needed to find managers and talents abroad. I am proud that we succeeded; this is precisely what we have been doing these years, and the multicultural and global team is what still distinguishes Kilpatrick today in the market.
How does your past work experience benefit you in the work you do now?
Undoubtedly, having worked in human resources in my previous jobs helps me to put myself in the shoes of our clients and better understand their needs and internal pressures. With Cristina and Jaap, we created a company (and I want to emphasize the word ‘company’ and not ‘professional studio’…) based precisely on what we, as clients in our previous roles, wanted to find in an executive search firm: internationality, transparency, speed, and flexibility.
Could you describe Kilpatrick in three words?
Perhaps I am biased, but I think and hope that even today, after many years and being much larger and more international, Kilpatrick’s consultants operate in an environment based on three characteristics:
- customer focus
Kilpatrick communicates that it operates as ‘one Team’, could explain better what this means for clients, candidates and internally?
Of course, it is the Kilpatrick board’s intention to create a corporate environment where everyone is part of the same team and wears the same shirt. The world of executive search and headhunting in general, often follows a model where the client is owned by the partner or consultant of the moment, and sharing is often seen as a loss of power. We wanted to create a reality where the client is taken care of by a team of capable professionals who follow the same type of process and approach in all our hubs around the world. We like to maintain localization and follow the peculiarities of each country, but provide a common and consistent response to our clients, no matter which of our international consultants they turn to. Generosity is the red thread if you want to work in the Kilpatrick team.
How do you ensure that Kilpatrick is providing both clients and candidates with a positive experience throughout the recruitment process?
A selection process involves multiple actors: the client, the candidate, and the consultant. The current market situation is certainly unique and complex, and not everything always goes smoothly. We cannot create the perfect candidate and make them accept our client’s offer, but we can certainly try to provide the best possible experience for the candidates. Company reputation is important, and external selection must be approached with professionalism and transparency. This is what we promise to the client, in addition to taking them by the hand and providing weekly updates, giving them a realistic view of the market, and supporting them in respect to the search strategy until the offer is defined for the candidate.
How do you approach diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process, as well as contribute to sustainability?
Kilpatrick, being heavily exposed abroad, is always very attentive to trends and market developments and is able to capture the needs of the market and candidates at an early stage. The issue of diversity and inclusion has always been part of our approach and selection policy. We provide equal opportunities in the selection processes, and our shortlists of candidates are often very diverse in terms of gender, culture, and religion because they are made up of applications from different countries and diverse contexts. We believe that innovation comes from contamination, and we are always the first to propose to our clients to “look outside the box” and consider situations that differ from those experienced so far.
Due to this predisposition of the company, last year we decided to launch an annual event on the topic of sustainability, which has a great impact on the world of human resources that we operate in.
You have a large network in which you are heavily involved and also speak at various events. Could you explain more about the activities in which you are involved besides your daily ones?
Let’s just say that I unexpectedly discovered that I am a stage animal and I am often called upon to provide testimonials regarding the skills required by companies in this market moment. But it’s not just me, it’s my colleagues too. As a company, we have encouraged Kilpatrick consultants to dedicate part of their time to career guidance for young people and to raise awareness among companies and managers on the topic of communication between generations.
All in all I can say that I am still in love with the Kilpatrick project, just like the first day I plunged into this adventure. The beauty of Kilpatrick is that nobody clips your wings; it is a reality that provides ample space for experimentation, even in technology, and the international environment in which we live is a source of stimulation.