Laura Cesati, the Head of Operations in Milan headquarters joined Kilpatrick 5 years ago as a junior researcher consultant, and today she is leading a team of consultants across 18 Kilpatrick offices globally. Laura shares her inspiring journey with us today in this candidate interview.
1. How did you get into the executive search?
I got into Executive search by accident. I entered this industry as a new graduate and I didn’t know anything about Executive Search. I did the Master’s in International Management and saw the job posting on my University platform. I applied and from then my career in Executive Search started.
This first job in Executive Search was at KornFerry, where I started as a junior researcher. After I grew to a more senior position I moved to another company which is called Transearch, and after that, I joined Kilpatrick.
2. What do you like about Executive Search?
I like the opportunity to get in touch with a very large number of different people and a diversified portfolio of clients. Every person I get in contact with is unique, from a professional and personal point of view. You become inspired by this diversity on a daily basis.
You can learn from all the people that we meet both professionally and personally, such as Technical skills, different perspectives, and also cultural elements. Executive Search is incredibly enriching from a human point of view.
When I started working in this industry, I was not as confident as I am now. I used to have a lot of stress and get anxious. While working in the industry I became more self-reassured and confident and learned how to manage stress and situations with a lot of pressure. I also learned to be able to interact with people at all levels.
3. What made you make the switch to Kilpatrick?
Again, it was by chance. I remember that I got in contact with Kilpatrick through a former colleague of mine, who was at that time a client of Kilpatrick. I was at a point in my career where I was, so to say, a bit bored. I was tired of the environment that I was working in and I really wanted to find something different, something more international. So the client of Kilpatrick said, “Look I think that they’re different in the industry and I think you can really fit in their environment”. From there everything started.
It turned out to become one of the best decisions I made. I’ve worked in a few renowned executive search companies in the industry, and it’s true that Kilpatrick is definitely one of a kind. Kilpatrick represents the perfect marriage of Italian company culture and international mindset, which is very rare in this sector. At Kilpatrick you have the opportunity to work on a different set of clients’ projects and profiles while you are working as 1 team transcend locations, you have direct contact with your colleagues in all 18 offices. It’s a company with truly global, and local insights, I find it very unique. For example, my previous employer is a large multinational company. This means that you have an office in each country, and each office is autonomous and focused at local level. So, if you get an assignment for another country, you have to pass it to your colleagues in the region where the assignment is taking place. In my opinion, there is no true collaboration on an international level as one company. On the other hand, I also worked with an executive search company that is part of an International Network. This means that you have recruitment companies that are part of this international network. So, basically, you don’t even know your colleagues abroad. It requires a lot of trust, to get a client, and then give it to someone that you don’t even know or how he/she works.
4. How would you describe a typical day in the Kilpatrick office?
It’s impossible to describe a typical day at Kilpatrick, because you always have a lot of different things to do. Things are always coming in, so I mean, we don’t have a typical day. When we get to the office, it’s always a day of problem-solving, sharing ideas, opinions, and with touches of laughter. It’s really a moment where you can find yourself in a nice and welcoming environment.
The nice part is that you’re not only connecting with your local colleagues but also with colleagues in other countries. Even very far away, like the US or Mexico. There is a really strong connection amongst everyone within the organization.
5. If you can work from any Kilpatrick office from tomorrow, where would it be?
I would choose the Miami, US office because it’s in my heart. In 2018 I stayed there for 3 months as Project Manager of a big project for Kilpatrick.
I like that Miami is a really open-minded city. The culture is very welcoming, you don’t feel any issues when you go outside. People are open and have a really nice attitude there.
6. Can you tell us one of the most significant things that you learned at Kilpatrick?
The most important thing, as I’m now managing a team of people, is that you always need to understand that each person is different. Each person always has something precious. The point is that you need to find a way to make this person understand their strength. Also, you need to remember that each of us has a personal story. It’s important that you respect the personal story, especially when you have to deal with people from different cultures. So, someone from China is totally different from someone in Italy, Mexico, or the US. I learned how to understand each cultural difference and how to deal with it.
For example, when I work with people from, let’s say the more Eastern Parts of the world, they are so respectful. I mean, in my opinion sometimes it’s a little bit excessive, but then I understood that it’s not too much, it’s their way to behave. Sometimes I feel surprised that they are at your disposal for everything and every hour of the day. This is something that’s for example in the US completely different. In the US you have to respect office hours and you have to avoid disturbing someone after.
Or for example India, they are really result-driven, and they want to get things done immediately. I need to exercise myself in this case, understand that it’s a matter of cultural difference, and don’t get mad.
The cultural differences are something that I’ve also learned in working with companies in different countries. So for example Germany, working on German assignments I understood a lot of things about German people. So it’s really, let’s say, a good way to have first-hand experience with various cultures.
7. What is the hardest assignment that you’ve done so far?
It was the one in Miami, US for a digital technological manufacturing company. It was my first time dealing with a very challenging project. It was a different market, and I was dealing with a complex client. The Italian client gave us the assignment, but the Americans weren’t involved in this decision. So, you can imagine that at the very beginning, it wasn’t easy to make them accept an Italian provider in the US. On the other hand, it was complex because I was managing for the first time a team of people working for this assignment from Kilpatrick. So this was the first time I was dealing with people management. Let’s say the critical part was that we were working in a partnership with another provider in Chicago. I had to know this provider, get to know the people working there , and start collaborating with them as colleagues. The assignment concluded very successfully, I have also grown personal connections with the US team and stayed friends till now. I think that was the hardest project, even because it was from an economic point of view an important project for the company.
8. Can you give one piece of advice to the younger Laura?
I would say that it’s important to always listen to others. Always be open to others’ advice. This is one thing I would suggest to youngsters, also have your own idea, and be sure of what you think. Remain on your ideas and opinion, and don’t be influenced too much by others. Don’t be discouraged if someone tells you that you are doing something wrong because if you’re not getting wrong, you’re probably not doing good. If you make an error, it’s a way to learn.