I’m meeting with Alane Baranello, principal of Alane Baranello & Associates in her office at One Penn Plaza in New York City.
After spending nearly 20 years in corporate HR, Alane established her own executive search firm with a focus on HR placement eight years ago, drawing on all the experience and strengths she has honed in corporate HR over the years.
Alane welcomes me with a smile and we enter the boardroom with a stunning view over the Hudson River, all the way to the Statue of Liberty, and sit down with a coffee.
HOW DID YOU TRANSITION INTO HR IN THE FIRST PLACE?
“I transferred into Human Resources at my father’s suggestion while searching for my path in college”, she says. She made a natural transition into Cornell University’s Industrial Labor Relations program and has never looked back. “This business plays to my strengths.”
I HEARD THERE WAS A GEORGE CLOONEY STORY…WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?
Alane witnessed the ups and the downs of corporate HR firsthand. While heading up HR for the Ogden Corporation, she reluctantly found herself channeling George Clooney’s character in the movie “Up in the Air,” flying to locations to shut them down when the economy went south. She felt like the “Angel of Death.” “It was a stressful time and a sure road to burnout,” she reflects while taking a sip of her coffee. After nearly a decade in HR and another decade heading up corporate HR, she opened up her own executive search firm.
YOU SAID EXECUTIVE SEARCH IS THE HAPPY SIDE OF THE BUSINESS?
“Yes. My focus is on a very positive experience for my clients and candidates. I make a very concerted effort to get to know my clients and the culture of their company, which includes management changes and the impact they may have on the position and the company. When I get an assignment, I meet with them and do a complete download, asking lots of questions which may include: What is the department like? What is the biggest challenge the candidate is going to face? How will the team welcome this person? Who was in the job in the past? What do you expect this person to accomplish in the first 3 months…In the first 6 months? What works culturally? What doesn’t work? Tell me about the best person you’ve ever managed? What was it about that person that you loved? Tell me exactly what’s missing on your team? What would be complimentary? – those types of questions; to name a few.
Candidates stay in my network. I feel like I know the best people on the candidate side and the client side.”
WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT FOR SUCCESS IN EXECUTIVE SEARCH?
Alane reflects for a moment before answering: “Professional experience, judgement, and trust are vital, plus influence, intuition, emotional intelligence, institutional knowledge, a strong network – and curiosity. Knowing how to talk to people and get them to open up to you. For instance, I recently had a situation where a client I had worked with in the past did not agree with my recommendation for a candidate. I proposed that the client bring the candidate back, talk with them again, and have them meet other people within the company because sometimes an initial meeting is not enough. In this case, the client hired the candidate after that second meeting. Having a trusted partnership means that the client will listen to my recommendation.”
YOU STRIKE ME AS A VERY CURIOUS PERSON
“I am! I consider myself a researcher and an anthropologist. I’m going to find out the why and how. It is not a simple transaction. This is not just sending resumes and hoping something sticks. There’s no intellectual component to that. What interests me is getting to know you. I want you to be so successful. I want my client to hire someone who is going to make them look good. That’s my goal. Tell me what I need to know.”
“I look in places that are off limits for many search consultants and go above and beyond for my clients. I’m searching for people who are already in a good place but who are still open for their next opportunity. My goal is a successful partnership.
It is clear that Alane is “searching with heart”.
We say goodbye for now and head back into the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Tags: Alane Baranello, #AlaneBaranello, Executive Search, Executive Search New York, HR executive search
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