Associate, Hospitality & Leisure Practice

Company Overview

Founded in 1956 and privately owned, Spencer Stuart is one of the world's leading executive search consulting firms, operating out of 55 offices in 30 countries and conducting more than 4,000 assignments worldwide annually.  We are the advisor of choice among top companies seeking guidance on senior leadership needs and have unrivalled access to leading executives around the world.  Our clients range across industries and vary in size from large multinationals to medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups; we also serve key nonprofit organizations around the world. 

Spencer Stuart’s core business is identifying, assessing, and recruiting leaders.  Our objective is to help clients find the ideal candidate for their search, tailoring each assignment to reflect the client’s strategic goals and current business situation, as well as identifying what the critical competencies for success in the role will be.  Spencer Stuart also provides strategic leadership assessment services and is a global thought leader on trends in talent recruitment and management.  The firm’s consultants place the utmost emphasis on high-quality professional client service.  This commitment to quality has enabled the firm to establish valuable long-term relationships; over 75% of our searches are undertaken on behalf of existing clients. 

Our 400 consultants worldwide blend industry knowledge, professional services ability and a keen understanding of executive leadership.  Consultants (who typically have significant business experience before coming into executive search) generally specialize in one of our eight industry or seven functional practice areas. For more information visit: www.spencerstuart.com 

Hospitality & Leisure Practice

Our global team of consultants specialize in hospitality and leisure and possess a deep understanding of industry executives and their unique career insights and circumstances. We apply our rich knowledge of the industry to provide insight into how the demands placed on leaders are changing and what those changes mean for building executive teams. 

  • We have unparalleled access to top talent through our relationships with hospitality and leisure firms around the world, having conducted more than 400 senior executive and board director assignments over the past three years alone. 
  • Our consultants maintain an intimate knowledge of trends in the industry, based on hands-on experience working for hospitality and leisure companies and an ongoing commitment to participating in global industry events and initiatives. 

The hospitality and leisure industry faces new challenges in the form rapid global expansion, shifting trends in ownership and management, and emerging outbound travel markets. Our consultants have the know-how to assess rapidly changing customer needs and locate visionary leaders with superior relationship skills, analytical sophistication, financial acumen and a best-in-class service orientation. 

Spencer Stuart has broad functional expertise across the following sectors: 

  • Amusement and Theme Parks
  • Car Rental
  • Cruise Lines
  • Gaming
  • Hotels and Resorts
  • REITs and Real Estate Development
  • Ski Destinations and Resorts
  • Tour Operators
  • Travel Distribution
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Vacation and Fractional Ownership

Position Summary

Spencer Stuart is seeking to recruit a Hospitality & Leisure Associate to be located in our Chicago office. The Associate plays an important role in executing searches by identifying, attracting and developing candidates who match our clients' requirements. The Associate then validates and assesses the candidate's business experiences and professional competencies to determine how they relate to a client's specific need, and ultimately prepares them for consideration by our clients. 

The Associate helps to manage and advise clients through regular updates, providing them with market feedback and insight into candidates' motivations, strengths and development needs. In addition, the Associate plays a key role in supporting business development efforts by conducting background research, preparing business development materials and attending new business pitches when appropriate. Associates are expected to acquire deep and insightful candidate pool knowledge over time. 

The right candidates for the Associate role will bring strong business acumen, intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and excellent communication and advisory skills to the role. They must possess exemplary project management skills, a customer-service orientation and a team mentality, as well as professional presence and polish. The Associate will work internally with a variety of Consultants in all sectors of the practice and externally with diverse, senior-level executives and board members. 

Key Relationships

Reports to:      

Director of Associates

Associate Practice Leader (on a dotted line) 

Consultants (on assignment basis)

Key Relationships:     

Practice Leader/Members

Office Manager

Associates, Senior Associates, and Consultants Firm wide


Search Coordinators/Executive Assistants

Knowledge Managers

Corporate Research Services

Major Responsibilities

  • Contribute actively to the start-up phase of the search by participating in client kick-off meetings with the Consultant and assisting in the development of the search strategy and target list of companies.
  • Gather relevant information regarding the appropriate industries and target companies. Identify potential prospects and sources
  • Represent client effectively in the marketplace, discussing the opportunity with relevant executives. 
  • Validate potential candidates through reference and source calls. 
  • Partner with the Consultant to develop and present a slate of approximately 4-6 qualified candidates to each client. Anticipate what needs to drive the search to closure and be prepared to supply additional information, such as related industry trends, market findings, reaction to the opportunity, compensation data, etc., gained during the course of a search. 
  • Contribute to the preparation of position specifications, candidate presentations and reference reports adhering to the Firm's assessment methodology. 
  • Communicate effectively with the Consultant and the Executive Assistant and remain fully abreast of search developments in order to communication accurately and credibly regarding the assignment. 
  • Prepare organized information for the client progress reports/meetings by teaming with the Consultant and the Executive Assistant. Provide an informed perspective on prospects/candidates and how they match against the key selection criteria. 
  • Be aware of activities and changes in general business and in hospitality and leisure specifically; keep team members apprised of relevant developments in the marketplace. 
  • Add to the firm's candidate pool expertise by continually identifying and introducing new talent to the Firm. Ensure that up to date assignment, company and candidate information during the course of an assignment is always available for colleagues, by leveraging technology and information from the firm's state-of-the-art, proprietary database. 
  • Contribute to responses to inquiries for new business as well as business development initiatives. 
  • Be willing and proactive about contributing to local, practice or Firm-wide initiatives.  Coordinate and share practice related information to the Knowledge Manager for potentially broader distribution.


Ideal Experience

  • At least five years of business experience in executive search, a relevant corporate organization or a professional services environment. Prior experience in executive search is not required.
  • Experience working in a high performance environment in a role where multiple projects and competing demands are the norm. 
  • Domain expertise in the Hospitality & Leisure industry is preferred, but not required. 
  • Strong academic credentials. 

Critical Competencies for Success

The Spencer Stuart Associate will have the following attributes: 

  • Project Management:  Plans, manages and drives own efforts to identify and develop a slate of quality candidates as measured by Consultant, client and candidate feedback.  The successful candidate will do this while handling multiple projects with competing deadlines, working with individuals who have differing styles, and managing challenging expectations by:

    • Taking ownership of the project by doing what is needed at all phases of the search process, anticipating next steps and not waiting to be told what to do.
    • Constantly reassessing priorities in own workload to realign resources where/when needed and proactively offering to do the same for the wider assignment team.
    • Working long hours and being available at all hours, committing to deadlines and communicating progress against them to the assignment team and/or client.  Delivering on commitments on-time or notifying as early as possible if deadlines will slip.
    • Leveraging the power of effective assessment and validation to surface quickly and efficiently outstanding, qualified candidates.
    • Adapting personal approach when working with clients and colleagues of varying styles by probing to uncover what is important to each and adjusting communications and approach accordingly.
  • Judgment and Assessment:  Ensures an efficient search process and quality outcome as measured by the time to complete an assignment and client satisfaction scores by maintaining expert knowledge of a candidate pool and an associated industry or functional area.  The successful candidate will do so in an environment where clients increasingly want to meet candidates quickly, the pool of interested candidates may be limited, or the role to be filled may not be viewed as attractive in the marketplace by:

    • Using knowledge of the market, a network of contacts, research tools and own experience to help develop the search strategy, provide an informed perspective, and help write a position specification that reflects the unique client requirements.
    • Proactively targeting and contacting the most important business leaders of today and tomorrow, by making industry and third-party source calls to build candidate pool knowledge and to collect qualitative and quantitative information, and building credibility by demonstrating own knowledge of the industry and/or function.
    • Using own knowledge and experience to frame the right questions to elicit information from the prospect/candidate about their experience, competencies, compensation details and other relevant data, and then make sound recommendations to the consultant on the person’s relevance for the role.
    • Maintaining awareness of current business trends, staying abreast of economic news, reading the Wall Street Journal and industry-specific publications and remaining intellectually curious by asking questions and continually studying the business world.
  • Interpersonal Skills:  Enhance the efficiency of assignment execution and the quality of outcomes, as measured by the client’s comments and internal metrics, in a fast-paced environment where you compete for Consultant and client attention and “mind share” and work with multiple stakeholders of varying styles by:

    • Being authentic.
    • Listening and asking questions to clarify understanding and demonstrate knowledge.
    • Adapting own style to suit the communication needs of the other person.
    • Setting expectations and clarifying roles to avoid duplication of effort and wasting precious time and resources.
    • Raising issues early and finding solutions collaboratively to avoid problems.
    • Remaining poised when under pressure or handling unexpected challenges.
    • Distilling information from a variety of sources, develop an informed perspective and share that with others.
    • Conveying information in a compelling way, beyond “just the facts” that resonates with the needs and audience.
    • Sharing information with those who would benefit, including updating Qnt.
  • Relationship Building:  Deepens knowledge of the candidate pool and access to senior executives while proactively increasing internal visibility, awareness of expertise, and the ability to contribute on best teams as measured by Practice Leader and Research Director feedback in a matrix environment beyond immediate assignment responsibilities.  The successful candidate will do this by:

    • Building an internal and external network in a thoughtful, strategic manner, ahead of needing it through a genuine interest in others and willingness to be helpful in addressing their needs over time without expectation of rewards.
    • Building trust and credibility with key people in his/her core network by being generous with his/her time and assistance, connecting people to others who might help, remembering things that are important to the person, and identifying areas of common interest.
    • Planning for and setting aside time for relationship building activities, including being opportunistic in identifying and using any and all opportunities to connect with his/her network and further his/her aim of building visibility and gaining knowledge.
    • Seeking out and working with others who have complementary strengths beyond those most often worked with, offering his/her help and ideas and incorporating their input and expertise.
    • Having a genuine interest in the development of others and offering his/her coaching as and when appropriate.
Spencer Stuart is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer F/M/Disability/Vet

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