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Lunch with Peter Strandberg

A (virtual) Lunch with Peter Strandberg.

Peter has been President of Friisberg since 2012.

 

What was the path you took to get to where you are today? 

I took over an organisation that in all honesty had lost a little faith in itself and its future. There were administrative and internal governance issues and I needed to focus on building trust and a cohesive, supportive atmosphere between our offices.

I decided to concentrate on our core service offerings to create an effective operating model once again. It was vital that this was sustainable and had longevity.

When that was done I set my sights firmly on the future and how best to prepare us for changes in our industry, the market and the world:

  • Our industry was in flux and moving in the direction of clients seeking senior advisors rather than “just” a provider of CVs of good candidates.
  • I did not want Friisberg to simply be one of many search firms, I wanted us to stand out as being overtly client-focused with genuine consultancy.
  • The market was increasingly diversified and much more competitive . How could we adapt to that?
  • The world was “shrinking” and our clients were increasingly “Global”.  How could we ensure a personal service with consistently high standards, everywhere?

We needed to make it even clearer to the market that we could offer more than Executive Search, such as Management Audit, Assessments and Business Partner Searches.  We needed to make sure we presented ourselves as one brand, one firm – it was imperative that our clients understood us to be the truly global organisation we already were.

Of course, even today, we still have things to work on and develop, like all healthy organisations do, but we have a capable, well functioning organisation – one that can assist our clients all over the world. That makes me very proud. Not for my own sake, but for Friisberg as a superb provider of consultancy services.

 

What has been the biggest change in Management Consultancy and Executive Search over the last 10 years and how has Friisberg responded? 

Increasingly low-price competition forced us to take a strategic decision – whether to compete on monetary grounds, or to offer more than our competitors could and evolve into strategic partners to our clients. I certainly did not want to lead on a race to the bottom!

We were already considered trusted advisors to our clients – more of a sounding board if you will when comes to organisational and strategic change.

Our core competency has always been, and will always be, to assess the demands needed in a leadership role and to combine that with the right person at the right time. Management Audit is a perfect example of this service and one that is increasingly in demand. Over the past 20 years Friisberg has been performing Management Audits, although demand has undoubtedly accelerated in the last eight years, and in many ways this value-add is the future for our firm.

 

How has Friisberg as a firm changed over the last 8 years?

There is no doubt that due to the high quality consultants that have joined us, our capabilities in advisory services for our clients has increased dramatically. We are now a truly modern, fast growing organisation with a global footprint and immense local knowledge!

Culture can mean many things to many people, but one thing is very clear when it comes to culture in any organisation: it comes from the top.

 

What do you feel is the biggest strength of our company right now?

You know, to govern and manage consultants is one of the trickiest tasks you can take on!

The characteristics that make a great Consultant or Partner are the same personal traits that makes them challenging to manage! So, I have concluded that the trick is to give clear goals and aims and to explain why these are important. Allowing lots of slack in the leash is also imperative – allow them be successful but if they go too far in one direction to hold the leash a little more firmly.

Having that said our biggest strength is undoubtedly our people – without them we are nothing. But even excellent, highly motivated people also need some guidance and I think we have maintained the best traits of a well-functioning, structured organisation combined with the entrepreneurial spirit that started and has stayed with this firm since 1977.

 

As President of Friisberg, of what are you most proud?

I see Friisberg as an organisation that has led by example and taken the lead in the development of our industry. I really am genuinely proud of everything and everyone.

Our culture is now something of which we are all particularly proud. We work together, we support one another (this has been particularly evident over the past year during the pandemic) and we care about one another. We are friends and colleagues – as corny as it sounds, we are the Friisberg family.

 

Where do you see Friisberg in another 10 years?

I hope that we will have expanded even more – that we will open many more offices and grown our existing teams. I hope that we never stop learning and that we show evidence of continuous improvement in terms of our procedures and ways of working. Our governance model already helps us to get the very best out of our organisation, but I hope we will continue to be genuinely flexible to always find the best ways to fulfil the demands of our profession and our clients.

 

[ Lorri dreamt of an insalata caprese, Peter wished for seared tuna – and both would very much have enjoyed a chilled Chablis. If only…! ]

Lorri Lowe
Partner, UK

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