Kate Harry Shipham, Principal, KHS People LLC

Kate Harry Shipham is the Principal at KHS People LLC, an executive search firm specializing in finding the right business development and marketing professionals for professional services firms. With a background as a practicing attorney, she made a career transition to the executive search industry in 2011. Since then, she has been working as a skilled search and executive recruitment professional. In her current role, Kate leverages her expertise as both an attorney and an astute “people observer” in the search business to fully understand the needs of her clients and candidates.

Today, Kate’s remarkable success serves as an inspiration for those who aspire to empower individuals to achieve their full potential and make a positive impact on society. Her story embodies determination, courage, and resilience.

The Transition Journey: From a Practicing Lawyer to Establishing an Executive Search Firm

Kate was born and raised in Australia. While pursuing her Bachelor of Arts from Monash University, her interest gradually shifted toward Criminal Justice studies. This led her to apply to law school, and upon obtaining her degree, she immediately entered the legal profession, as is common for many lawyers. She frequently found herself in State and Federal courts, representing high-net-worth clients and companies who had experienced various forms of injustice. Through these experiences, she honed her ability to handle herself effectively in front of opposing counsel.

Towards the end of 2012, Kate relocated to the United States with her husband, who had accepted a new role. Reflecting on those earlier times, Kate shares, “I never imagined that my law degree would serve a dual purpose in my yet-unknown second career as a business owner in another country.”

Within a year, Kate began working in the executive search industry, in the United States, and her clients were law firms, continuing her passion within the industry she had grown up in. She soon noticed that while there were numerous executive search firms specializing in placing attorneys, there was a lack of high-end firms catering to marketing and business development professionals. These non-legal roles within law firms were gaining traction, with some of the largest firms already employing teams of over 100 people. Recognizing this as an exciting opportunity, Kate was determined to capitalize on it.

In 2017, Kate established KHS People LLC as an executive search firm exclusively focused on connecting business development and marketing professionals with professional services firms. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the firm aims to provide its clients with highly skilled professionals who possess expertise in business development, marketing, and sales. KHS People takes pride in being a people-first business that upholds professionalism, integrity, positivity, and approachability as its core values.

Tackling the Entrepreneurial Challenges

Kate’s first major challenge was obtaining a different visa that would allow her to establish her business in the United States. Being a meticulous planner who always keeps an eye on the future, she had prepared herself for this crucial step and ultimately succeeded. Her second hurdle was staying calm with the immense responsibility of building her company from the ground up. During those challenging moments, she recalls staying focused and using that drive to generate momentum. Additionally, she sought advice from experienced business professionals who helped her navigate the bigger picture and reminded her to cherish the sheer joy of creating her own business according to her vision.

Kate’s third ongoing challenge is establishing boundaries and knowing when to switch off. She explains, “As an entrepreneur and innovator, you don’t really switch off, and that’s part of what makes it successful; the wheels of entrepreneurship keep turning even after you leave your desk at the end of the day.” However, she recognizes the importance of achieving a work-life balance. Apart from dedicating time to her clients, she also carves time for her family and friends. While some weeks can be particularly demanding, whenever she feels her boundaries slipping, she laces up her running shoes, puts her daughter in the jogger stroller, and turns up her playlist. This routine helps her refocus and find ways to restore balance once again.

The Must-Have Qualities in Candidates

When it comes to candidates, Kate values specific qualities that she believes are essential. She actively seeks candidates who possess a deep understanding of the nuances of law firms and know how to navigate and accomplish tasks within a partnership environment. These candidates also embrace their role as ambassadors for the law firm. Moreover, they are adept at balancing both intellectual intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) to adapt to various situations effectively. Finally, Kate looks for candidates who are proactive idea creators and know when to advocate for their innovative ideas.

When selecting the right candidate for a job, Kate emphasizes the importance of getting to know her clients thoroughly. She believes that each search goes beyond simply filling a role; it involves understanding the broader team dynamics, personalities, partner compensation structure, and market position of the firm. Only with this comprehensive knowledge can she seek candidates who align culturally and share professional values with her clients. Additionally, Kate conducts a two-part interview process that evaluates all these aspects.

Kate emphasizes her consultative, transparent, and educational approach in her work. She takes an active role in facilitating the interview process between her clients and candidates. Kate remains actively engaged throughout the process, unlike many recruiters who may adopt a more passive stance. She understands that executive searches involve high stakes, considering the relationships she has cultivated with both her firm and candidate clients.

Completing a Difficult Search through Experience & Expertise

Recently, Kate was entrusted with a senior search for a boutique firm. The key responsibility of this role was to introduce and subsequently oversee strategic coaching for a group of partners who possessed strong business development skills and were also the highest revenue generators for the firm. Although the level of responsibility and compensation were commensurate with the seniority of the position, the title needed to accurately reflect its importance. Kate’s challenge was to identify individuals within her network who were not overly concerned with titles. These individuals were typically more experienced and understood that titles can be transient. Often, they were in the later stages of their careers, where personal accomplishments outweighed the significance of titles.

Another challenge Kate faced was crafting and messaging a marketing strategy for this senior role that didn’t overly emphasize the title. Initially, she approached professionals in her network who were senior and held a more carefree attitude towards titles. She engaged in conversations with them, highlighting the qualities of the firm’s partners, how the opportunity came about, and the vision and scope of the role. This select group was small but influential. By leveraging her deep understanding of her network and their personal and professional priorities, Kate focused on individuals who would not be deterred by the lack of a prestigious title but would recognize the high-stakes nature of the role. With her industry expertise and insights, she successfully connected the right professional to this position.

Significant Career Milestones

Kate’s first significant achievement lies in the quality and credibility of her brand, which she has tirelessly worked to establish as consistent and professional. She understands the importance of purposeful and targeted messaging, as well as engaging with each client intentionally. This approach has been instrumental in cultivating a responsive network. Her candidate clients recognize the transparent and dedicated advocacy they receive when working with her. Similarly, her firm clients value the efficiency and thoroughness of her searches, complemented by data and intelligence that enhance their work.

A recent significant achievement for Kate is her role as a year-round advisor to her clients. She leverages insights from her own data and network to identify market trends, make projections, gather accurate salary data, and provide market intelligence. Proactively sharing this information with her clients showcases her long-term perspective and commitment to their success. By prioritizing personalized service and a people-focused approach, Kate ensures that KHS People remains a trusted and valued executive search firm.

Pearls of Wisdom

Kate emphasizes the importance of understanding and developing strong client relationships as the foremost aspect for aspiring professionals. In the case of candidate clients, Kate has nurtured long-term connections with them. When she reaches out to them, it is a targeted and personalized approach that aligns with the career goals they have shared with her over time. For her law firm clients, she invests time in comprehending their business, market position, and the dynamics between the marketing and business development team and the firm’s overall success. This entails actively listening to Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and marketing partners rather than simply engaging in superficial conversations. Kate believes that intentional and attentive listening can yield valuable insights and knowledge, which is crucial in the field of executive search.

Another vital piece of advice that Kate offers aspiring professionals is to have a genuine passion for their work. Given the high-stakes nature of this business, it can be challenging. Therefore, patience, determination, and tenacity are essential to overcome the various obstacles encountered along the way and ultimately achieve success.

For More Info: http://www.khspeople.com/

Content Disclaimer

Related Articles