As a key leader in the executive search industry for more than 15 years, Keith Mann has navigated the complicated world of hedge fund management and private equity – and become an expert in hiring strategy for the financial sectors all over the world. Formerly Keith Mann worked as the managing director of Dynamics Executive Search, a global financial service staffing company, where he recruited the very best in the business for key positions. In 2002, Keith established the Alternative Investment Practice department at Dynamics Executive Search when he began to see that the hedge fund staffing industry was a quickly growing yet grossly underserved market. In 2006, Keith moved his skills into the private equity industry – setting up Dynamics Search Partners as the company to use to get the very best executives into roles in the financial sector. Today Keith Mann serves as the CEO of Dynamic Search Partners – running the management of the firm and helping clients develop strategies for hiring and marketing. His clients are located all over the world—from Asia to the United States—and are part of a growing 200-client family every year.
How did you come up with the idea for Dynamics Search Partners?
I grew up in New York around many financial executives, but over time, I noticed there was a lack of qualified managers with experience running alternative investment departments. When it came time to launch Dynamics Search Partners, I was working at a previous firm called Dynamics Associates. I wanted our branding to be seamless. That’s how we came about.
What’s a day like in your life?
It’s extremely busy. I barely have enough time to get lunch some days – but I try to fit that in. I exercise every day before work so I can stay energized at the office and I’m ready for meetings and calls throughout the day. And email—I answer a lot of email. I try to be as productive as possible by taking one task at a time and staying focused.
How do you get your ideas in motion?
I’m a big problem-solver. I’m always looking for new ways to make things better. If I see a need, I want to figure out how to meet it in the best way—whether that’s finding a way to change the process for interviewing executives or strategy for how we find new and more diverse candidates.
What are you excited about right now?
I’m excited about the way we are working to diversify our candidate pool. I want to find the best candidate for each position. I’m constantly looking for new people who surprise me and bring a rich and diverse experience to the industry.
What’s your key to productivity?
It goes back to that morning gym visit. I can’t stay focused if I miss my early workout. This can be extremely challenging to keep up – but that’s why I try to get into bed early so I’m ready for that alarm in the morning!
Tell me about your worst job. What did you learn from it?
I hated working as a trading assistant on a foreign exchange desk for a large bank. It was the worst. I learned a lot, of course, but I knew very quickly it wasn’t for me. I wanted to be in charge of my own work, be my own boss at the end of the day.
What would you do differently, if you could?
Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I love my job. I love the people I work with. They teach me knew things every day, and I’m thankful for the privilege of being surrounded by such incredible and talented people.
What’s your best advice for entrepreneurs?
I tell them not to be afraid to ask for help. Don’t assume your first decision is your best one. Go back, revise, rethink, be open to other ideas and directions.
What’s a key strategy that you’ve used to grow your business?
I can’t do my work without the very best technology behind us. We’ve created a seamless portal online that helps us collect and vet all our candidates and to manage our clients. It saves us time and money, and it helps us to streamline our hiring process. I’ve learned to be open to technology and to see where it can take us in the future. That energizes me and makes me excited for where we can take our business.
What about failure? How have you failed and what did you learn?
Sometimes in the hiring process you know you’ve got a great candidate but the employee ends up not being a good fit for the company. Early on, I had a situation like that. We had to break with the candidate. In the process I learned the importance of making sure both experience and personality are a match for the company.
If I gave you $100 and asked you to spend it now, what would you do?
I’d take my kids to a pizza-making class. They love pizza, and they love to cook with me in the kitchen.
What’s your favorite software product?
I’m a super fan of Google.
I love working in Google drive on documents and spreadsheets with my team. It’s great to collaborate in one place. I also love LinkedIn. Leveraging that platform has been a huge asset to our work.
What book is on your bedside table?
I’m reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s an inspiring read to anyone who wants to rise in their industry and find their passion along the way.
Who do you look up to?
I really admire Michael Bloomberg. His leadership skills are admirable, and I respect the example he set as mayor of New York City and as a businessman and philanthropist.