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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.

Board of Directors Services

In for-profit companies and non-profit organizations, board of directors’ responsibilities go beyond traditional governance and oversight.

Leadership Advisory Services

There is compelling evidence that organizations perform better if they have a clear sense of purpose.

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 and leadership advisory firm, our mission is to provide fully integrated executive search and leadership 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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He leads searches for the firm’s AEC clients domestically and internationally, as well as 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…

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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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Rick Hodge

Partner

Rick has eight years of search experience and has conducted C-Suite level searches across a broad range of sectors including Technology, Energy, Retail, Hospitality, Multi-Family, Logistics, Accounting, and Financial Services. Prior to joining Allen Austin, Rick has 20 plus years in Human Resources and served as the top HR leader for Star Furniture, a Berkshire Hathaway company. He also held similar positions at Dynegy and…

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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 Robert B. Cialdini’s article “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion”, Harvard Business Review October 2001, one of HBR’s 50 Best Selling Articles   No leader or rainmaker can succeed without mastering the art of persuasion. But there’s hard science in that skill too, and a large body of psychological research suggests there are six basic laws of winning friends and influencing people. A lucky few have it; most of us do not. Gifted “naturals” simply know how to capture an audience, sway the undecided, and convert the opposition. Watching these…”

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With paraphrased content from Peter Cappelli  While at lunch with a commercial contractor with 1,200 employees, he asked: How am I going to hire for the growth projected in my market when I can’t keep my mid-level workers? While my good friend is in the construction space, he is hardly unique. We hear the same thing from CEOs and CHROs in healthcare, logistics, financial services, technology, retail, manufacturing, private equity and nonprofit. Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Director of its Center for Human Resources wrote…”

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With paraphrased content from Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks  About an hour after my post on The Reticular Activating System went out, I got an email that read: “Rob, It seems like a million years ago I experienced The Pacific Institute and Lou Tice. The words Reticular Activating System brought back all of those wonderful memories. Thanks for reminding me. Warm regards, Howard.” It was from Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks. I made a warm (It’s not a cold call if you’ve done a bit of homework and…”

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With paraphrased content from Tracy Goss and David Allen Last week we determined you must transform yourself before you can transform your organization.  Freeing yourself from your old winning strategy, starting with a clean sheet of paper, and declaring that you will accomplish the impossible, is necessary if you are to successfully transform. Transformation begins with the understanding that many of your aspirations that appear impossible aren’t, and that you are capable of far more than you imagine. It is only your current perspective, and lack of proper tools, that…”

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With content from Tracy Goss’s book The Last Word on Power: Executive Re-Invention for Leaders Who Must Make the Impossible Happen In last week’s post, we established that “The POWER that brought you to your current position of prominence and responsibility as a leader – the power that is the source of our success in the past – is now preventing you from making the impossible happen in your life and in your work. If you are an executive or manager who is charged with leading a re-invention effort, before…”

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  (Houston, TX) – Wednesday, March 24, 2021 – Allen Austin, a leading executive search, interim solutions, and leadership advisory firm based in Houston, and parent company to Gaines International, is announcing an important new service offering to support leaders in pursuit of a culture of peak performance: Communication IQ. The Communication IQ methodology identifies seven communication styles, known as Life Languages™, which individuals “speak” with varying degrees of fluency. While each person has their preferred styles, Communication IQ aims to help people communicate in all languages successfully, making collaboration…”

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When Charles Butt, now one of the most admired CEOs in the world, began his transformation of H-E-B, the first thing he had to do was transform himself. I started paying attention to H-E-B in 1980, when Kroger, then a client of mine, entered San Antonio with 13 state-of-the-art supermarkets. Then the third largest supermarket retailer in the U.S., Kroger had big plans for San Antonio, as the dominant player didn’t seem to be particularly special or well run. Kroger committed to a $250 million investment in San Antonio, not…”

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The number of organizations with strong, healthy peak performance cultures I’ve seen deteriorate over the four decades I’ve been paying attention is staggering. The first exceptional culture I saw disintegrate before my very eyes was the Safeway Houston Division for which I managed one of its highest volume stores. For eight years, at age 24, I had been a part of an organization which had grown from 3 stores to 91 and from less than one percent of its market to a commanding 23%. We were the best in town,…”

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This week’s post is in response to one of my clients who asked me to write a piece on my personal history and views on the art, science, and practice of retained executive search consulting. Writing a 275-page book on the subject was a lot of work but not difficult. A three-page blog post is much more daunting so here is my best shot. I went to work in search at age 24 on March 3, 1979 for a man named Larry Gladstone. Larry was a 47-year-old Harvard MBA with…”

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(Houston, TX) – Wednesday, March 3, 2021 – Allen Austin, a leading executive search and leadership advisory firm based in Houston, and parent company to Gaines International, is pleased to announce Ari Cretu has joined the firm as Managing Partner of its Interim Leadership & Project Consulting practice. “I was drawn to the firm by its commitment to culture, disciplined approach to client service, and proven methods of success,” says Ari. “Allen Austin has an aggressive growth strategy planned for the next five years, and I’m honored to be a…”

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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.