Boyden Executive Search

In the Huffington Post’s Women in Business Q&A, Trina Gordon, President and CEO of Boyden World Corporation, discusses women in leadership – progress, room for improvement, the benefits of having women in senior management and board roles – as well as how she became a leader in executive search.
By Lauren Dunn

by Laura Dunn

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post. Click here to read the original article.

Trina Gordon is President and CEO of Boyden World Corporation and a member of the Board of Directors. Previously, Trina was Managing Director and the leader of Boyden Chicago. Prior to joining the firm, she was a Partner at William H. Clark Associates, Inc. She has extensive experience in management consulting and executive search for global public corporations, privately held companies, and private equity owned businesses.

Trina is highly regarded for her commitment to client service and adhering to the highest levels of professional quality and integrity. She is a member of the firm’s Board Services and Global Consumer Practices. Functionally, she has successfully conducted engagements for Boards of Directors, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, and business unit leaders, as well as a wide variety of C-level executives. During the last ten years, she has worked extensively with multinational companies on a global basis to attract key leadership.

Trina holds both BS and MA degrees from Auburn University, and has completed the Boyden Advanced Management Program at Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She is also the recipient of a Doctorate of Laws degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

From an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of believing you can be whoever you want to be. This belief gave me a great deal of self-confidence. If you try to learn as much as you can, listen carefully and work diligently, you can be successful in whatever you set out to achieve.

I originally thought I wanted to be an equine veterinarian. However, during college, I became interested in management consulting from a professor who taught the subject. This introduction led me to learn as much as possible about different companies and business models. At that point, I began gravitating toward business and never looked back.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Boyden?

When my brother and I were kids, we started a couple of businesses together, including a car wash, which did well. It was actually what today would be called a “car detailing service”.

I think that this enterprising spirit has stayed with me, along with the understanding that we had to divide and conquer the responsibilities in order to be successful.

As I began my career as a young professional in executive search, I wasn’t the first person who would draw the attention of a client. Often, I was the last person the client acknowledged. That reinforced my belief that I needed to learn more about that client’s business than anyone else in the room. Sooner or later that type of knowledge gets recognized and trusted relationships are established.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Boyden?

One of the biggest challenges occurred a few years ago, when we observed that global and emerging global clients were becoming more focused on their executive search partners delivering higher quality service and a more consistent approach to talent and leadership solutions. They were requiring greater sector and functional expertise and deeper insights regarding their business and industries.

Boyden’s business model enables us to respond quickly to these trends and offer greater value to our client relationships. We have always been focused on quality rather than quantity, and providing tangible results rather than abstract ideas and concepts. Our clients tell us this is the Boyden difference; how we stand apart and meet client needs at an increasingly more complicated level.

Partnerships are often more internally focused and concerned with practices and processes. We changed our internal mindset as an organization and evolved into a client-centric global business. We built the foundation for everything we did based upon what clients told us they needed and how we delivered against those needs.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

In the executive search industry, sector and functional expertise have become critical to clients. As a new partner, women need to make sure their voice is heard and that they consistently demonstrate their skills and talents. Never assume that your work will be appreciated by your senior leadership or that your achievements will speak for themselves.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

Do not be afraid to take risks. Understand the potential benefits and consequences and make a decision. If the decision you make is a win for your business, ensure it is everyone’s success. If it is not, learn from it and move forward.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

A CEO’s job is 24/7 so I have to balance priorities while staying focused on our strategic goals. It is important to step back and re-set my perspective. I am a lifelong runner and have owned a Harley-Davidson for 10 years. Running clears my head and riding focuses my skills. I also believe very strongly in giving back to the community and am a passionate supporter of women’s health.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Women’s compensation has seen some incremental gains in the past decade. However, women’s salaries are still not equal to men’s, so there’sstill more improvement needed.

Additionally, there has been some progress in terms of women attaining more senior management and board roles, but there’s still a long way to go. The facts are indisputable. Only 14 percent of the top five leadership positions at the companies in the S&P 500 are held by women, according to a CNNMoney analysis in 2015. It’s even worse if you just consider the very top. According to Fortune, as of July this year, women held a mere four percent of CEO positions across Fortune 500 companies.

This representation of women leaders is low considering all of the research showing that companies with women leaders have reaped many benefits. Women are regarded as more effective leaders compared to their male counterparts, especially with respect to employee engagement, collaboration and customer insights. Diversity in management and on corporate boards delivers better financial results for shareholders, companies and their customers.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I have learned a great deal from my mentors. All of my professional and personal mentors inspired me to continuously challenge myself and pursue my passions. I have always tried to adopt constructive feedback.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Two leaders I admire are CEOs at Fortune 100 companies: Irene Rosenfeld at Mondelez International and Ilene Gordon (no relation) at Ingredion. Both of these leaders have transformed their organizations, made difficult business and people decisions, have acquired and divested businesses, and delivered value to their shareholders, customers and employees.

Some industry sectors including strategic consulting, luxury consumer goods and defense contracting are recognizing the benefits of women leaders and have more female representation. Other sectors such as technology and social media have few women in leadership roles. Changes are slow despite the media attention these sectors have received.

What do you want Boyden to accomplish in the next year?

We look forward to continuing to build on our strategic plans, which have gained tremendous traction in terms of growth in key markets such as the United States, Canada, China, Switzerland, Eastern Europe and Africa. It’s a journey that Boyden and our partners are traveling together.

We are particularly excited for our evolved brand launch early next year. The implementation of our business strategy is well underway and we are seeing great benefits as a result. Our brand will bring this strategy to life and provide a clear, credible and relevant “voice” to all who come in contact with Boyden. After 70 years, as the first international search firm, it is still an evolving process to ensure we are at the top of our game.

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