Embarking on a journey through time and growth, we sit down with Monica Ferrario, Client Director and a dedicated member of the Kilpatrick team since 2007, for an exclusive glimpse into her remarkable path. As part of our ongoing series, “My Kilpatrick Experience,” we delve into Monica’s professional evolution, witnessing the gradual expansion of Kilpatrick from its Milan origins to a global force with hubs spanning Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Monica’s journey exemplifies the core values that define Kilpatrick – international collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to delivering exceptional results. Join us as we explore her insights, and the unique perspectives she brings to the table.
Can you tell us about your journey in Kilpatrick to now?
I have been with Kilpatrick since 2007 and I have had the opportunity to grow a lot and see the gradual evolution of the company from the heart of Milan to multiple countries around the world. Today we have a global presence with 6 operational hubs in Europe, Asia and the Americas. I started my professional experience in Milan following clients in the industrial and life science sectors and, thanks to the foresight of Jacob Hoekstra and Cristina Spagna, I had the opportunity to develop the Swiss and international market since the opening of the HQ in Switzerland in 2013. For more than 10 years Kilpatrick has been steadily growing following clients in different business sectors globally with a team of colleagues with strong skills in both business management and project delivery. The development of the company has always been followed by technological and digital development with tools to serve clients by following the evolution of the HR market in the digital field.
What attracted you to Kilpatrick and what made you decide to join the company?
What attracted me and continues to be a constant aspect at Kilpatrick is the international nature of the firm and the ability to develop cross-border projects. We are talking about 20 years ago and we were the first headhunting firm in Italy to operate with one company internationally. Another element is innovation, far-sightedness and being ahead of our competitors in terms of global presence (with our own offices) and the first to set up in Switzerland with an international expansion project. As a matter of fact, today we can proudly take advantage of more than 25 years of presence in global markets with our own offices allowing us to serve clients in Europe, Asia and the Americas. One Company with strong local and international experience to the extent that we have always defined ourselves as a Glocal Company.
What is an ordinary week at Kilpatrick like?
The work week often takes place at the customers’. Kilpatrick is always close to its clients and wants to accompany them in defining the best solution and strategy and in selecting a talented candidate for the company. The international nature of the company has accustomed and trained me to work, often remotely and in an agile way, with both international colleagues and clients who are often based in different countries. Working remotely is a skill I have acquired at Kilpatrick for years and has allowed me to follow clients and candidates in an agile and flexible way while also taking into account different cultural approaches and thus acquiring solid skills in different markets.
We are unique in the market in our collaborative approach to client management, i.e. I follow clients in Switzerland and, with colleagues, also their branches e.g. in the USA, Turkey or Mexico. Thus, local projects are complemented by international multi-country projects. Connections with international colleagues are frequent and constant.
The delivery team has strong skills in searching for candidates in several regions and with different language skills.
Finally, Kilpatrick aims to become the client company’s global partner, having established a unique experience in different markets and an excellent track record in terms of results and clients acquired.
In the course of the week, different activities take place in Switzerland, thus local to me, and include not only selection but also management assessment and leadership coaching. The latter activities are very successful and in great demand by clients with the aim of developing high-potential executives and candidates internally.
Can you describe the process of working with a client at Kilpatrick?
The Kilpatrick client has a single point of contact for the project which is the Client Director who coordinates delivery activities with the global operations and project manager. Having a single point of contact even across multiple managed markets is the winning strategy to establish a solid relationship of trust with the client, define a streamlined process and adapt it to the client’s needs, as well as building a solid strategy for approaching candidates that results in more than 90 per cent of positions being closed quickly and with high quality.
Over time, Kilpatrick’s digital projects and tools have enabled clients to follow the evolution of our searches in real time by activating a process of constant feedback and alignment on progress. Think of Kilpatrick’s proprietary oneApp system that offers an advanced and competitive level of project customisation. There is also the background check, Check It Easy, which is essential in some countries, such as the USA, for checking the candidate’s background.
Also, for Human Capital services, the client has a single point of contact for project management..
What are the common themes or problems that your clients have when they request executive coaching or leadership advisory services?
Over the years, Kilpatrick has built leadership advisory skills in-house through board advisory, C-Level Management Assessment and Executive Leadership Coaching. Clients often feel the need to rely on professionals who are certified in the indicated areas of competence and at the same time have a good knowledge of the labour market and have gained solid international experience. These latter aspects allow Kilpatrick to make a difference in delivering innovative and strategic intervention models that are useful for the development required by the client. The consultants specialised in leadership advisory activities have long professional experience and possess international certifications and training. I personally have been training for 10 years with international certifications in the USA & Israel. This has enabled me to structure C-Level leadership coaching and management assessment programmes that are highly innovative and respond to current client needs i.e. innovation, transformation and sustainable leadership development.
Can you share a success story of one of your executive coaching and medical coaching projects?
I have been following executive coaching projects for more than 10 years and work with executives who are challenged by constant internal company transformations and transitions. They often work on the management and training of new competences and in the management of new organisational models and collaborative teams that require different methods and timing. Skills related to developments in the current labour market.
I remember two projects in particular: the first of executive coaching within a Swiss multinational where I accompanied the CEO in a ‘tiring’ corporate transition process by working on employee motivation in difficult situations. The result was not a foregone conclusion, it was challenging and nobody left the company of its first levels who felt engaged and supported. The team is still cohesive years later.
The second medical coaching project that I remember as a great success was within a hospital in Italy and I supervised the head physician of a critical care hospital area and we also worked here on stress management and burnout prevention models for his entire team. Again, people have come through a very critical period (covid 2021) and his team has not experienced any absenteeism. The team is still there and the stress management techniques have also been applied in other hospital areas.
Can you tell us a moment when you felt particularly proud to be part of the Kilpatrick team?
There are several moments when I feel proud to be part of Kilpatrick and it is a pride that has been consolidated over the years. Having experienced the evolution of the company over time, I am proud to see colleagues in Italy and abroad grow in the company and consolidate their presence in the organisation. I am also proud to tell existing customers about the innovations that have taken place over the years, but also to tell new customers about the results achieved to date. Last but not least, the success story of an executive search company and the foresight of two entrepreneurs Jacob Hoekstra and Cristina Spagna and their colleague Claudia Paoletti, who were able to take up the challenges by boldly going beyond the ‘boundaries’ (both of possibilities but also nationally).
Personally, I am also proud to have taken the opportunity that my bosses offered me years ago, namely to represent the company in Switzerland, for which I am grateful. And I thank Switzerland for having welcomed me for the past 10 years.
What advice would you give to those who are trying to build their resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges?
I would advise those who want to take on challenges to go beyond resilience, which I think is overused, and to train a new mindset based on self-confidence, courage and making a ‘friend’ of even fear, which often becomes an ally. A person I hold in high esteem recently gave me a phrase he believes in very strongly and which I think is effective: ‘fate never puts a problem in front of you that you are unable to solve’. It is the perfect summary to follow!