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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 Advisor

Based in Houston, Mike Rome serves as Senior Advisor 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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Ken Wilcox

Partner

Based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Ken serves as Partner and Head of the Consumer Products and Retail Sector. Ken is charged with overseeing the development of client engagements, by leveraging Allen Austin’s formidable portfolio of services, including executive search, leadership advisory and interim executive and coaching assignments. Prior to joining Allen Austin, Ken spent the past 30+ years in increasingly senior roles in corporate America. His…

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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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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

With paraphrased content from Hubert Joly’s HBR Article The Secret Ingredient of Thriving Companies: Human Magic. 01.10.2022 There is no longer debate that companies must be about more than just maximizing profits. Yet while many companies are trying to articulate their purpose, much remains to be learned about how to create environments that can help turn intentions into reality. Nothing grows in bad soil, no matter how good the seeds and water are. Similarly, no company purpose, regardless of how well it is defined, can materialize unless the company environment is…”

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With paraphrased content from Heidi Grant’s HBR article “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” Why have you been so successful in reaching some goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are not alone. Research shows that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail at specific endeavors. The intuitive supposition — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others is often wrong. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not…”

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by Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Melody Wilding’s May 31, 2021, HBR article Stop Being So Hard on Yourself Melody Wilding is a highly accomplished executive coach, author, and speaker I follow regularly. I’m also a huge fan of her book Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. Melody’s coaching practice focuses largely on helping sensitive high achievers break free from stress, perfectionism, and imposter syndrome, mastering their emotions and turning sensitivity in to a superpower. She tells the story of Ben, one of…”

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Paraphrased by Rob Andrews from content by Peter Bregman and Howie Jacobson’s HBR article December 10, 2021  In our work around building cultures of peak performance, we’ve found that straight talk and effective coaching goes a long way to build employee engagement, loyalty, and trust. But giving feedback is exceedingly difficult, as we’re often afraid to hurt people’s feelings. Because we’re reticent to criticize, causing the recipient to feel shame, and some version of “you’re not good enough and you need to change”, we avoid the conversation altogether. When we…”

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With paraphrased content from Michael Schlein’s HBR Article December 14, 2021 A company’s digital evolution can result in startling changes. Shopify, for instance, started out as an online store for snowboard equipment and is now an e-commerce platform worth billions. For mission-driven organizations, a digital pivot can offer a powerful opportunity to maximize impact. But bold moves can also cause mission drift: diluting or distorting an organization’s core work to create positive change in the world. This is something Michael Schlein, President & CEO of Accion, grappled with through his…”

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With paraphrased content from The Abilene Paradox by Dr. Jerry Harvey published December 6, 2014 Real Conflict and Phony Conflict In our final examination of the Abilene Paradox, we recognize that conflict is a part of every organization. Analysis of the Abilene paradox opens the possibility of two kinds of conflict—real and phony. On the surface, they look alike. But, like headaches, they have different causes and therefore require different treatment. Real conflict occurs when people have real differences. Phony conflict, on the other hand, occurs when people agree on…”

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With paraphrased content from The Abilene Paradox by Dr. Jerry Harvey published December 6, 2014 In Part 3 (of 4) of our examination of the Abilene Paradox, we ask the fundamental question: What is at the core of the paradox? Fear of Separation. One is tempted to say that the core of the paradox lies in the individual’s fear of the unknown. The reality is we do not fear the unknown, rather we fear the things that are known. What do we know about that frightens us into such apparently…”

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by Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from The Abilene Paradox by Dr. Jerry Harvey published December 6, 2014 We’ve spoken of the Abilene Paradox, and how recognizing its symptoms is key to avoiding painful and all too common trips to places no sane person wants to go. The Abilene Paradox occurs when a group of people agree on a course of action that is in direct conflict with the true wishes of many or all its members. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which individual members mistakenly believe their…”

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With paraphrased content from The Abilene Paradox by Dr. Jerry Harvey published December 6, 2014 Most boards, leadership teams and married couples for that matter, are destined to live in dysfunction because of what Dr. Jerry Harvey called the Abilene Paradox. I first heard Dr. Harvey in 1996 while attending Graduate School at the University of Texas at Austin. Jerry got his Ph.D. from UT in psychology, practiced as a management consultant, and taught at George Washington University. He built a consulting model around the Abilene paradox, which helps explain…”

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With paraphrased content from Helen Tupper and Sara Ellis’s HBR article November 4, 2021 According to Sara Ellis and Helen Tupper, our capacity for learning is becoming the career currency on which we trade. We once went to work to learn a job. In today’s ever evolving environment, learning is the job. Adaptive and proactive learners are highly prized assets for organizations, and when we invest in, and become deliberate about our own learning, we create long-term dividends for our own career development. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, shared that when…”

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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.