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RETAINED EXECUTIVE SEARCH FIRM, LEADERSHIP ADVISORY SERVICES, AND INTERIM LEADERSHIP & PROJECT CONSULTING

Our Services

Executive Search Services

Finding and retaining top leadership and board talent can be a strategic game changer. Our retained executive search firm has been providing executive search consulting services since 1996.

Leadership Advisory Services

Allen Austin’s Leadership Advisory Services are based on Total Performance Leadership (TPL), which is a journey that will never end. It is our study of organizations that perform at the very top of their sectors.

Interim Leadership & Project Consulting

Our flexible model and tailored solutions allow us to operate with precision and rapidly respond to our clients’ needs, providing a roadmap to measurably improve business performance.

The Allen Austin Difference

Since 1996, Allen Austin, has been dedicated to building lasting relationships and delivering real value to our clients.

As a global retained executive search, leadership advisory, and interim leadership and project consulting services firm, our mission is to provide fully integrated management solutions that allow our clients to unleash the full potential of their organizations and deliver outstanding business results. Our fundamental commitment is to do the right thing, for our people, our clients and for the global communities in which we work.

Our Clients

What Our Clients Say

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When Tanglewood Legacy Advisors engaged Allen Austin for a retained search I expected just that. What we received was so much more.

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Andrew T. Gardener CFP , President, Tanglewood Legacy Advisors

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[Allen Austin’s] approach is different than the big three or four firms, and they deliver a much more hands-on experience led by senior executives.

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John Dennis , Managing Partner & Founder of WoodRock & Company

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I have had the opportunity to engage with a number of different recruiting firms over my career and have to say that I thought the experience with Allen Austin was exceptional.

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Bob Aylward , Chief Executive Officer & President of Jones & Carter

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Tom was not just a consultant; he was a member of our team. I very much appreciate the impact Tom had a me as a leader, and the impact he had on our performance for Hess.

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Brian Truelove , Retired Senior Vice President of Hess Corporation

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Allen Austin is pound-for-pound the best executive search firm that I dealt with over a 40-year career — no contest.

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Jim Eggleston , Board Member of Silberline Manufacturing Company

Consultant Spotlight

Rob Andrews

Chairman & CEO

Based in Houston, Rob Andrews is Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Allen Austin, a leadership advisory and executive search firm. Rob leads Allen Austin’s global CEO, Consumer Packaged Goods & Durables Practice, and is also a member of the firm’s Leadership Advisory, Private Equity, Industrial and Marketing Officer practices. Building on his earlier career experience as an operating president with major convenience store and…

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Darcie Murray

Senior Managing Partner

Based in the firm’s headquarters in Houston, Darcie Murray serves as Senior Managing Partner of the firm. Darcie conducts C-level engagements, advises clients on disciplined hiring and human capital issues, and oversees the operations of Allen Austin and Gaines International. She is the partner-in-charge of the Executive Search practice, and the Head of the Business and Professional Services practice. Darcie is a key member of…

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Danielle Mairs

Managing Partner, Leadership Advisory

Based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Danielle Mairs is Managing Partner of Allen Austin’s Leadership Advisory Practice and head of the Private Equity & Venture Capital Practice. In addition to her responsibilities of securing strategic partnerships, business development, client delivery, and talent acquisition, she is a key member of Allen Austin’s leadership team as well as its Nonprofit, Education & Government, Business & Professional Services, and Diversity,…

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Donna Gaines

Founder & Managing Partner, Gaines International

Donna gives a unique sensibility to executive and management recruitment and understands the impact of architecture and design on cultures and societies. Since 1981, Donna has assisted clients in finding key professionals with leadership talent to meet the challenges of modern business. Donna relocated the Gaines headquarters from Atlanta to Chicago following a decade that included the Gulf War, an economic downturn, and overbuilding that…

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Ari Cretu

Managing Partner, Interim Leadership & Project Consulting Practice

Based in Houston, Ari is Managing Partner of Allen Austin’s Interim Leadership & Project Consulting Practice. He also heads the firm’s Industrial Practice and is a member of its Private Equity Practice. In addition to his responsibilities of client management, engagement delivery, and overall execution of services, Ari is a key member of Allen Austin’s leadership team where he assists in the strategic direction and…

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Jackie Gorman

Senior Partner

She has a particular interest in the areas of Higher Education, Government, Workforce Development, and Non-Profit organizations, where she brings over 16 years of executive-level management experience. Jackie is also a specialist in diversity executive searches and can bring to the table the highest caliber of diverse candidates for any organization. Jackie has developed a reputation for superior customer service. Her client list includes major…

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Mike Rome

Senior Partner

Based in Houston, Mike Rome serves as Senior Partner and co-leads the Board, CEO, and Private Equity practices. He is a member of the life sciences, industrial, professional services, and financial services practices, and plays an integral role in the firm’s growth, culture, and client service excellence commitment. He also currently serves as the Interim Director for the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship at Houston Baptist…

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Prior to Gaines International, Grant was a Vice President with W.L. Handler & Associates, a generalist retained search firm specializing in mid to senior-level searches within the Fortune 500 markets. During his tenure with W.L. Handler & Associates, Grant was fortunate to work with such notable corporations as Anderson Consulting, Coca-Cola, Deloitte & Touche, Georgia Pacific, IBM, PepsiCo, and many more. As a Partner in…

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Based in Tampa, Florida, James Wilkson is a Partner within our Executive Search,  Leadership Advisory, and executive coaching practices. He specializes in Medical Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Technology, Software, Manufacturing, Retail, Hospitality, and Financial Service verticals. James is a gifted profiler of executive talent and an accomplished search consultant delivering competitive leadership ranging from start-up and private equity-based companies to Fortune 500 organizations. Drawing…

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Ken Minter

Senior Partner

Ken has two key facets of his practice: C-level corporate placements, particularly in situations of change or distress (M&A, restructuring, and post-bankruptcy) and senior-level professional services: consultants in operations, turnaround/restructuring, finance, accounting, and economics. Ken takes a client-centric approach to understanding an organization’s needs and clearly finding the best-fit candidates for the situation, the culture, and the future. His integrity and success in identifying and…

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Earle leads searches for the firm’s AEC clients domestically and internationally, and also oversees business development and marketing for the firm’s Atlanta offices. Prior to joining Gaines International, Craft spent almost two decades as the Vice President of Human Resources and Administration for tvsdesign, inc., a premier A&E design firm with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dubai, and Shanghai. He has significant experience in a wide…

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Victoria’s practice areas include all facets of financial services including retail banking, FinTech, payments, and insurance. She partners with clients who are global leaders in solving their senior executive talent and leadership needs. Victoria fills critical leadership roles at the C-Suite level that span general management, digital, data analytics, finance, marketing, and operations. She is also a leading member of the firm’s diversity and inclusion…

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After a successful twenty-year career at Kraft General Foods, where he held a series of management and executive-level positions, Pat spent five years as Managing Partner of a Connecticut based management consulting firm that specialized in providing added value via client-specific sales and marketing solutions. Prior to joining Allen Austin, Pat was Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for a Connecticut based, family-owned and…

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He began his search career in 1996, in research and research management. He managed research teams at two London-based executive search firms in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over the last ten years, Stephen has delivered searches across multiple sectors, functions, and geographies. He has executed searches on behalf of some of the world’s biggest companies, including Disney, Sony, Microsoft, IBM, and PWC. He…

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Kelly specializes in industrial, oil and gas, power, midstream, and consumer products, and has a unique talent for conducting search engagements across a broad range of industries. Kelly feels building relationships is her biggest asset. Prior to Allen Austin, she worked for one of the largest firms in Houston and successfully completed a large engagement with a rapidly growing midstream company resulting in fifty executive…

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News & Insights

We are amid a labor shortage the likes of which we’ve never imagined. Today, unemployment is being reported at 4.8%, the lowest it’s been since its frightening climb to 14.7% during the first days of the pandemic. While this number might sound good, this statistic is wildly misleading. Some economists suggest the “true unemployment rate is actually closer to 22%. The most reported unemployment (U-3) does not consider how many discouraged and/or unmotivated workers there are; or to what extent the labor force participation (LFP) has fallen. U-3 measures the…”

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In a blog post 40 weeks ago, I posed the question: Why should an “A Player” who is head down, working hard, not looking for change, and doing a great job for your #1 competitor come to work for you? If your words don’t yet paint a very compelling “Why”, you’ve got work to do. Short of being just plain lucky, if you’re not able to clearly articulate why your next impact player should put down what he or she is working on, and listen carefully, you are destined to…”

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With paraphrased content from Michael O’Brien’s Knowing What We Want, published September 17, 2021 I have long lamented that executive hiring looks very similar to dating and marriage with nearly identical results. Global stick rates among executive placements are dismal, and the statistics have been consistent for thirty years. Almost one in every two executive hires goes awry within two years, at an incalculable cost. Until recently, the marriage failure rate was roughly the same. The reasons for failure in both categories are strikingly similar. A recent post by my…”

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with paraphrased content from James Fulton’s article in Harvard Business Review August 20, 2021 Studies of peak performing leaders reveal they have a growth mindset and are always seeking advice. They are clear that they don’t know it all and have an innate sense of curiosity that drives them to seek the best advice available and make informed decisions. James Fulton  is the chief learning officer and global head of talent at financial services firm Goldman Sachs. James offers sage advice about hiring a trusted advisor. Says James: Giving professional…”

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Your vendors and service providers, whom I’ll simply refer to as providers, could very well represent your most underutilized resource group. I began to understand this concept when, as an 18-year-old second assistant manager at a Safeway Store in Houston, I was befriended by a wine salesman named John Feely. I’m not sure if John thought strategically about customer relationships, or whether he was just a good guy. His intentions notwithstanding, John was always trying to help, and as a result, became one of my most important advisors. Fifteen years…”

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Paraphrased by Rob Andrews from Ram Charan’s October 2018 Harvard Business Review article. The article focuses specifically on CEO selection but is equally valuable when contemplating evaluating the critical needs for any position, at any level. While most of this article addresses the board’s role in CEO selection, I am convinced the principles apply to every position. As you read the article, think of various roles within your organization and how to retrofit the four things that highly effective boards do to attract, engage, retain, and develop peak performing CEOs….”

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With paraphrased content from Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys Harper Collins 2021 I must admit that even as a student of food and retailing, I didn’t pay much attention to Trader Joe’s, until I needed to return an expensive cut of meat to a Carmel, California area store in July 2021. I called the store, was immediately connected to the manager on duty who politely apologized for a substandard purchase, asked me to take a picture of the package, throw…”

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With paraphrased content from Alix Partners March 17, 2020, Survey Report and Other Sources The importance of culture and its impact on private equity strategy and returns has been a growing development over the past few years. As PE investment returns have lagged those of the stock market in the US, firms are feeling pressure to improve and deliver stronger results. This fact combined with some high-profile private company debacles, in large part due to cultural toxicity and leadership miscues, underscores the urgent need for PE sponsors and portfolio companies…”

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with paraphrased content from Hathaway + Punch Digital Report August 2021 and Other Sources A highly differentiated customer experience is one of nine principles at work in organizations that perform at the very top of their sectors. When customers feel better about themselves when interacting with you, they are more willing to make a left hand turn across traffic to shop in your convenience store, drive a mile further to shop in your supermarket, wait for 30 minutes to dine in your restaurant, or fight mall traffic to shop in…”

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With paraphrased content from Scott Edinger in his Harvard Business Review article August 3, 2021 One of the most valuable things I’ve done over a long career of leading and managing others is to ask the managers and leaders several layers deep in my organization, what I do they appreciate and what I do that drives them crazy. At first, all I got were strange stares, as if people were thinking “Seriously? You’re not really interested in what I think are you?”, and then over time they loosened up and…”

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Why Do You Do That?

Rob Andrews talks about why our team at Allen Austin operates the way it does; how it’s all led by purpose and how we implement it into our Executive Search (executive recruitment) and Leadership Advisory practices.