40 years Friedrichs & Partner - Part 2

It started with an unexpected e-mail

It turned into more than 20 years of international executive search




At the end of November 2000, we received an e-mail from an executive search network which was unknown to us at the time.


The network was called IRC (International Recruitment Consultants) and it that was looking for a new German partner company.


In short words, the e-mail explained that the previous German partner firm had gone out of business and IRC was now looking for a replacement.


We from Friedrichs & Partner spontaneously found this request exciting, since at that time we already handled about 1/5 of our mandates for international companies and multicultural clients.


Therefore we immediately expressed our interest - from that point on, everything happened very quickly.


A telephone interview with the French IRC partner firm followed quickly and shortly afterwards a personal interview with the Belgian IRC partner took place.


It became clear very quickly that Friedrichs & Partner and IRC could be a very good match.


As final step an intake interview with the board of IRC was arranged for April 2001.


Well before this official meeting, I received a call from IRC around Christmas 2000. In that call I got the spontaneous invitation to a join an IRC pitch to one of the world's largest semiconductor companies.


A great opportunity to get to know each other in practice...


This pitch took place in London at the very beginning of January 2001.


Due to the mobile phone and online boom, that semiconductor company was on a strong growth path at the time and it was looking for an exclusive executive search partner.


On the day of the pitch, IRC was the last executive search organization to present and it was already early evening.


When my IRC partners-to-be entered the conference room together with me, the big conference table was full of business cards from the top international executive search organizations.


The representatives of the semiconductor company were seemingly already exhausted and weary after various lengthy presentations on that day.


Not an easy start for IRC.


At the beginning of our pitch, the attention span of our audience was very low.


However, to my personal surprise the dynamics in the room changed fundamentally within 10 - 15 minutes once we presented our network of owner-managed boutique executive search firms and our approach in more concrete terms.


We did not make a standard presentation with colorful slides, but instead we sought individual dialogue with our audience and we asked them specifically about their needs and expectations.


It quickly became clear that the corporate representatives found the customer-oriented and partnership-based work of boutique executive search firms exciting - especially in comparison with much larger and less "personal" international executive search organizations.


Eventually, a very lively dialogue developed and the exchange became increasingly engaged.


The next day we left London with a good feeling. Immediately after my return to Germany, I learned that we had indeed been awarded the contract - IRC had been selected as the exclusive partner for filling European executive positions.


For me personally, this was an eye opening experience and proof of the strategic importance of international networks and also the recognizable added value of executive search boutiques.


Therefore, Friedrichs & Partner clearly wanted to join IRC and we were happy and proud to be accepted as exclusive German member firm of IRC in April 2001.


At that time, IRC was rather a pan-European Executive Search network with member firms in Finland, Sweden, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, U.K. and Germany plus 1 member firm in the USA.


The rest is an amazing success story - and a fundamental part of our company history, too.


IRC soon was renamed IRC Global Executive Search Partners and the network continued to grow sustainably until today, while at the same time professionalizing the standards and processes.


From summer 2002 onwards, I had the opportunity to be actively involved in the growth and further development of IRC Global Executive Search Partners serving as member of the Executive Board.


7 years on the Executive Board of IRC have been very formative and enriching for me.


Diverse multicultural experiences, cross-national team spirit, exciting development of partnerships and friendships on various continents as well as conceptual challenges in defining and implementing unified quality standards and developing professional network structure. And much, much more.


22 years after Friedrichs & Partner joined IRC, a lot has happened:


In spring 2022 IRC Global Executive Search Partners has been renamed and is operating as “Kestria” since.


Today Michael Kantel sits on the Executive Board representing Friedrichs & Partner.


Meanwhile, Kestria is represented in around 45 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. Literally spanning the globe.


Being part of Kestria and being involved in joint assignments with our Kestria partners has become an integral part of the Executive Search DNA of Friedrichs & Partner since 2001.


We love to be part of this wonderful group of people - it has become our “professional family”.


"Kestria - fluent in finding leaders".




Mathias Friedrichs

Phone: +49 (0) 211 – 57 73 00




P.S.: For reasons of better readability of the contributions, the "male" formulation is chosen in each case.

However, all 3 genders are of course always addressed in the sense of equal treatment.