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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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Ari Cretu

President

As President of Allen Austin, Ari’s responsibilities include corporate development, forging external partnerships, championing DE&I causes and embedding them within the firm’s growth strategy, client origination, revenue production, and ensuring world-class quality execution across all engagements and service offerings. As a key member of Allen Austin’s leadership team, Ari assists in the strategic direction and tactical plans of the firm. Also remaining under Ari’s purview…

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Ara Megerdichian

Partner, Leadership Advisory Practice Leader

Based in Bozeman, Montana, Ara serves as Partner and Practice Leader of Allen Austin’s leadership advisory practice and is a senior member of the firm’s higher education, government, non-profit, private equity, and industrial practices.  He brings 30+ years of strategic leadership and management experience spanning both the private and public sectors in a diverse range of organizations. Prior to Allen Austin, Ara served for twenty…

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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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Dwane Ruiz

Partner

Based in Houston, Dwane Ruiz is a Partner and a member of the firm’s Industrial, CEO, Board of Directors, and Leadership Advisory practices. Prior to Allen Ausitn, Dwane spent forty+ years as a senior executive in the industrial manufacturing and services sector. Dwane has a proven track record in all aspects of operations, manufacturing, engineering, product development, and business development. Dwane has a reputation of…

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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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Based in Atlanta, Grant Heath is a senior member of the firm’s Architectural, Engineering and Construction practice. A 30+ year veteran of retained search, Grant has conducted C-Suite and senior-level search engagements for some of the largest and most prestigious architectural, construction, interior design and engineering firms in the world. He is one of those rare consultants who understands and relates to both left and…

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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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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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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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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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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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Based in Houston, Edie Bartlett is a Partner, and a member of the firm’s Consumer & Retail, Marketing Officer, Business Development, and Industrial practices.  She has over 20 years’ experience in executive leadership roles with prestigious consumer packaged goods companies Including Warner Brothers, MGM Studio and Starz. Edie’s expertise encompasses all areas of CPG distribution including, sales, marketing, and product distribution across all classes of…

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News & Insights

By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Carter Cast and Brooke Vuckovic’s HBR Article September 9, 2022 Controlling What’s Comfortable An initially positive behavior can turn negative. Founder/CEOs do need to dive into the details, especially during challenging times, to get a handle on problems and show appropriate urgency. But this behavior becomes negative if it bleeds into micromanagement. One founder began obsessing about the expense tracking system to avoid engaging with the executive team on big-picture strategic issues. This behavior speaks to a need for control, often by reverting to a…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Carter Cast and Brooke Vuckovic’s HBR Article September 9, 2022 Over the past 10 years, and particularly through the bull market that lasted well into 2021, investors have chased the most promising startups and their founders. Among them was “John,” whose bravado, assuredness, and larger-than-life charisma were viewed as assets that spoke of his zeal and commitment. But now, in a sharply changing investment environment, these same personality traits are seen as liabilities as investors ask him tough questions about performance and capital…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Jon Flack and Renee Klein’s HBR Article September 9, 2022 The workplace landscape looks entirely different than it did a few years ago. The combination of a booming economy, a global pandemic, and worker job dissatisfaction sparked the Great Resignation. Additionally, record low unemployment has given employees the advantage to be critical of employers, as well as mobile. Talent retention and acquisition are bigger priorities than ever for many companies, especially those focused on growth. Since it is likely that these challenges will…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Julia Lee Cunningham, Laura Sonday and Sue Ashford’s HBR Article September 5, 2022 According to the authors, many people, including your high potentials, are uncomfortable identifying as leaders. What drives this reluctance? When it comes to leading, self-identity matters. Research has shown that seeing yourself as a leader is an important first step on the path toward becoming one — and reluctance to identify as a leader can keep even the most capable people from taking on leadership responsibilities. So, why are people so often uncomfortable with…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Getabstract’ s summary of Jonathan Brill’s book Rogue Waves As we learned from last week’s post, assessing, protecting, and nurturing your culture is the most important thing you can do to protect against being swept away by rouge waves. This week, we continue to explore the remainder of Jonathan Brill’s observations and recommendations. Global connectivity places a premium on data and shrinks the innovation window. Making money from data is cheaper and easier than monetizing products or services. Increasing global connectivity promises to…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Getabstract’ s summary of Jonathan Brill’s book Rogue Waves According to Brill, even the grandest sea vessels can fall victim to rogue waves. Your business, likewise, may sail along unimpeded for years before an unexpected crisis arises and washes over you, destroying everything you’ve built. In an increasingly unpredictable world of economic uncertainty, pandemics, political volatility, and social activism, you must understand how to navigate inevitable waves of change to protect your company’s well-being. Traditional business philosophies, such as Competitive Strategy and the…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Joel Schwartzberg’s article in the Harvard Business Review August 10th, 2022 Most business consultants — and certainly most workers — agree that empathy is a critical leadership skill. Joel Schwartzberg often reimagines “CEO” as “Chief Empathy Officer.” There’s no question that the ability to step into another’s shoes and understand their situation and challenges is a powerful trait that builds trust and faith. The pandemic and other stressful events over the past few years have only made empathic communications even more desirable and necessary,…”

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By Rob Andrews based on personal research Southwest Airlines is a company to which we’ve paid close attention for decades. Herb Kelleher, the airline’s cofounder and first CEO practiced all nine principles we’ve observed in organizations that perform at the very top of their sectors, all of which have built cultures of peak performance. The principles continued under Gary Kelly, now Chairman, and Bob Jordan, current Southwest’s Chief Executive Officer. That said, no organization, regardless of its cultural prowess, is immune from disruption around runaway inflation, talent shortages and global…”

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  By Rob Andrews based on personal research and paraphrased content from Michael Lee Stallard’s Wall Street Journal Article August 24, 2014 Much has been written about Alcoholics Anonymous, including lessons business leaders can learn from the 87-year-old worldwide organization with over 2.5 million members. Many of my 45,000+ blog readers are close friends, clients, and colleagues who know that I am a recovering alcoholic who has lived comfortably in recovery for almost sixteen years. This post is not about my recovery, but the important lessons I’ve learned from the…”

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By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Dan Cable’s article in Harvard Business Review July 22, 2022 According to Dan Cable, Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, when leaders reveal their mistakes, trip-ups, and failures, they are seen as more approachable and less arrogant. But showing vulnerability isn’t easy for most leaders because it runs counter to what most of us have been taught. In today’s business environment, what got us here won’t get us there, and that means innovating, trying new things, making mistakes, and learning from…”

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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.