Meet the Experts: Ryan Polich

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‘Calibre One: Meet The Experts‘ Is A Series That Delves Into The Minds Of Our Partners At Calibre One. Join Us As We Talk With Our Industry Leaders About Their Experiences, Insights, And Strategies In Navigating The Competitive Landscape Of Executive Search

I’m one of the rare search consultants who started his career in executive search. I joined Heidrick & Struggles as a young researcher in the Global Technology Practice immediately after graduating from college. Those were the wild days of the dot-com bubble. I was thrilled by the high stakes and global reach of search work, as I have deep interest in the dynamics of the global political economy. After the bubble burst in 2001, I went back to school for an advanced degree in international relations.

I was still moonlighting in recruiting while a grad student when a happy client told me that search work was in my blood. Search is a career for optimists, I think – we like strategic problems, we’re wired to get people aligned, and we see talented individuals as catalysts for growth and opportunity. I decided that she was right, so I connected the dots in my career: I moved to Washington, DC and launched a successful search boutique focused on policy and public affairs. It was a front row seat to the big levers that shape innovation, especially within the healthcare and tech sectors. Inspired by what was happening in tech, I moved to Silicon Valley. I was very fortunate to lead a tech boutique that scaled 10x as cloud computing was enabling new startups and enterprise transformations. These experiences cultivated my deep appreciation for high quality search work, global clientele, and world-class colleagues, all of which I have at Calibre One.

Areas of Specialism

I have deep experience in transformational searches for companies in software, industrial, healthcare, and life sciences technologies. I also lead Calibre One’s new functional practice in Data, Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence. Over 20 years in search, I’ve worked across a lot of companies and roles, but love working with teams that are adopting new technologies. It’s extremely gratifying to help leaders who are taking on transformation initiatives, as technology, product strategy, and operational challenges all come together during these searches.

What Do You Love About Your Role?

Not many people get to do what I do, and it’s a great privilege to work with an amazing network of investors, senior leaders, technologists, and product visionaries. The executives I work with are deeply committed to making their impact in the world. The best are competitive, self-motivated, humble, and creative problem solvers.  And, candidly, some of my favorite people are the talent executives who work in the trenches to build great companies.

What is the Landmark Placement for a Client?

Two come to mind – the first is a Fortune 500 global life science and diagnostics technology company with a well-earned reputation as an academy company for high quality executives. I’ve worked with them for about 15 years and on dozens of roles, both within corporate and operating companies. I have learned a lot from the teams, particularly about how systematic business processes drive performance. I’m most proud of attracting several outstanding leaders to build and launch their digital business, which ultimately advanced the entire enterprise.

The second is a high-profile CTO placement at a public mid-sized data platform company. I first met the founding CTO of the company when he was completely overwhelmed by management of a scale up effort. He engaged me to fill out the VP ranks of his team, and I went to recruit the Chief Architect, Chief Product Officer, and, eventually, a new Chief Technology Officer to completely reorganize the team.

What Does Success in Executive Search Look Like For You?

There is a magical dynamic when both your candidate and client feel lucky to work with each other. It’s incredibly gratifying when I’ve made an introduction that goes on to drive high business value and where the individuals thrive. There is a lot of art and a lot of science required to find that kind of alignment and de-risk the decisions; it’s always testament to a well-run search process.

What is the Greatest Opportunity of the Decade?

Harnessing Generative AI and other AI advancements will be the single greatest opportunity over the next decade. We’re at the peak of the hype cycle now, with a lot of hard work in the coming years to move beyond novelties and into applications with high value for enterprises. I anticipate that AI will drive astounding improvements in margins, and not just by automating routine tasks. It will have dramatic impacts on the design of executive teams, from the CEO down, and the way we think about business leadership, work culture, and social impact.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Do well whatever you do.”

It’s from the Latin age quod agis and, as the motto of my high school, it’s a deeply engrained lesson: Focus on your objective and seek excellence; devote yourself with inspiration and dedication.