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Executive Recruiters Based In Wilmington Make Forbes List

By Jenny Callison, posted Apr 12, 2018
Wilmington-based executive recruiting firms have made the Forbes’ Best Executive Recruiting Firms list for 2018. Babb McGrew, in its debut, came in at No. 181 out of the 250 firms in the ranking, and Hawthorne Executive Search ranked No. 197.

Hawthorne also made the list last year. This year's list was published Monday.

“We’ve been very fortunate, very blessed. I’ve been in this game for 20 years,” Babb McGrew president Richard Babb said Tuesday.

Babb, a former U.S. Army officer, subsequently worked in health care management and brought that knowledge to the recruiting industry when he moved from the Triangle to Wilmington  in 1998.

After 13 years working for another recruiting firm locally, Babb founded his own firm in 2011, focused on companies in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Babb McGrew concentrates on searches in clinical development and research and development, according to Babb.

One factor in gaining a spot on the Forbes list might have been Babb McGrew’s emphasis on innovation, the president said.

“We hope to stay on the cutting edge of where our industries are going,” he said, adding that his firm “sees things that are emerging” in their fields of concentration, whether those are wearable devices that communicate with medical providers or other new medical devices.

In that endeavor, he and his five associates are stretching themselves and the firm, he said. “We’re aligning ourselves with companies or searches that are very complex.”

In addition to specialized clinical research knowledge, Babb McGrew clients are looking for executives who “are good teammates, have good communications skills, are very adaptive, bring a servant leadership-type mentality and can get the best out of people and really understand their teams,” Babb said. “Hopefully we are vetting [candidates] in a manner that uncovers – or not – those management traits.”

Roughly 90 percent of Babb McGrew’s clients are located in the Northeast; another 5 percent are elsewhere in the nation and the remaining 5 percent are in North Carolina, Babb said. The firm’s project roster is growing, and Babb said he plans to hire two more people in the next six months.

To produce its second annual ranking of the country’s best recruiting firms, Forbes stated it collaborated with market research company Statista. The latter surveyed 30,000 recruiters and 4,500 job candidates and human resources managers who had worked with recruitment agencies over the past three years.

Respondents were asked to nominate up to 10 recruiting firms in the executive and professional search categories. Firms could not nominate themselves. More than 14,500 nominations were collected, and firms with the most recommendations ranked highest.

Correction: This story corrects the original version to include Wilmington-based Hawthorne Executive Search.
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