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Key Stakeholders

  • Gary Burnison, Chief Executive Officer

  • Mike Distefano, Chief Marketing Officer

  • Linda Hyman, Chief Human Resources Officer


Executive recruitment and talent consulting


accelerating the shift to a
new sales message
and identity


In satisfaction surveys, Korn/Ferry learned that while the majority of their clients know the firm offers more services than executive search, a much smaller subset purchase more than one service.

The big idea
  • Become a diversified talent management company by clearly connecting the client’s business strategy to their people strategy.

  • Korn/Ferry identified a significant opportunity to grow business and help clients achieve their goals by offering an integrated approach to talent.

  • Success would depend on Korn/Ferry consultants embracing a “talent” vs. recruitment identity and leading wide-ranging talent strategy conversations with clients. The comfort zone for consultants was to stick to recruiting conversations.

Why involve a 3rd party in the transformation?
  • Korn/Ferry recognized that even though they were experts in developing leaders, they needed a catalyst for equipping their consultants to lead a more strategic and consultative approach to account development.

"For our ‘Big Idea’ to become reality, we needed to change the way our consultants engaged with clients. We looked for a partner who could understand our strategy, understand our brand, and help us connect our new business strategy to our people strategy.”

Mike Distefano, Chief Marketing Officer With Korn/Ferry
  • DSG partnered with Korn/Ferry’s leadership to create a customized enablement program for the global team of client-facing consultants. The program included five primary components:

  • An advisory team that spanned geographic, functional, and market sector lines to design a program that truly fit Korn/Ferry’s business, culture and level of sophistication

  • A messaging playbook to guide Korn/Ferry consultants in how to broaden the conversation with clients and engage around their talent strategy

  • A whiteboarding process referred to as “EDGE” that maps out how to have a conversation that connects a client’s business strategy to their talent strategy--leading to a dialogue around Korn/Ferry’s ability to bridge the divide between those two strategies

  • Workshops led by Korn/Ferry executives and DSG to teach a consistent methodology for engaging clients, delivering new messaging, and explaining how talent solves business issues

  • A reinforcement program to sustain learning for the six-months following the training sessions through web meetings (focus areas: insights from the real world of client engagement, identification of challenges, and celebrating success, etc.)

“One of the things I like the most about the DSG approach is that they don't prescribe how you should do your business. They advise you on best practices and methodologies that they've seen work with other relevant clients. DSG has clearly perfected their approach and tools over the years, but the key was how we customized it to Korn Ferry.”

Mike Distefano
DSG insight & value
  • Co-delivering with Korn/Ferry leadership. The Korn/Ferry leadership team recognized the importance of visible program support from the very top of the organization. Selected executives participated in DSG- led training sessions and eventually took over the process of leading workshops across every region.

  • Understanding and aligning with the Korn/Ferry culture. The DSG consultants learned and operated within the strong, driven culture of Korn/Ferry and earned the respect of the organization as fellow team members. This respect greatly increased the credibility of the messaging content, tools, and training.

  • Building a program around Korn/Ferry’s “big idea.” Rather than applying a generic framework and forcing Korn/Ferry into a pre-determined outcome, DSG created messaging content and tools that fit seamlessly into the Korn/Ferry world.

"DSG’s client-specific approach is what makes the change stick. Because it’s not an outside force, or an outside personality, or something culturally distinct that is driving the change. We enable the client to drive the change.”

Scott Presse, Consulting Principal, DSG

Since launching the EDGE program, Korn/Ferry is building momentum and success based on three primary measures:

  • Number of talent strategy conversations. Just six-months into the program, Korn/Ferry has already seen 200 instances where consultants held client conversations that turned into broader strategic discussions around the client’s talent strategy.

  • Talent strategy opportunities added to the pipeline. New opportunities at a talent strategy level are consistently added to the pipeline.

  • Talent strategy deals closed. Following a recent training session one of the Korn/Ferry consultants re-crafted his approach to an upcoming client meeting. That meeting resulted in a large, strategic talent opportunity that recently closed. This type of larger Talent Strategy project is becoming common across Korn/Ferry. 

"The EDGE program has yielded real success. It didn’t take long for some of the successful client conversations across our team to become urban myth and lore that everyone is picking up on and then wanting to join in the momentum.”

Scott E. Kingdom, Korn-Ferry Senior Client Partner & Global Managing Director, Industrial Markets
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