UPTOWN Professional Jan 10, 2011

Critical Path

By Allegra Bennett

Billy DexterGo to any networking affair and slick business cards fly back and forth like paper airplanes. But in a show me, don’t tell me economy where the winds of corporate restructuring blow hard, a clever card is not enough to float a career. Who’s the pilot behind your calling card? Do you know how to match your assets with where you want your career to go? Billy Dexter seeks out executive talent for the coveted niche positions of CEOs, board members and senior level executives. He leverages a deep background of more than 20 years as a leader in talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion-related efforts to place the best talent in the best positions, globally.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A SENIOR EXECUTIVE?
We look for someone with leadership experience, related work experience, a proven track record of success, a successful trend of moving up, the ability to get things done by example[s]…. [Also,]… how you’ve shown you can lead a team and be a team player, how you are at developing strategy, your planning ability and taking it to getting things done.

HOW DO YOU SPOT SENIOR EXECUTIVE MATERIAL?
We don’t determine if a person is senior executive material. They decide and we help them achieve that. We can help make the right connection, figure out what needs to be in play to get there (in terms of) the right contacts and right education. You have to ask yourself questions. Will certain directions take me off path? Should I go international? All are decisions you make as you move up the ranks. Talk about your personal goals. What have you put in place to obtain the goals? Where are you as to the overall personal plan?

I GOT THE JOB. HOW DO I WORK IT?
We spend 30-40% of time counseling executives on their career strategies and coaching them as to making contacts and career decisions internally. We stay in touch with them throughout their career. As we have opportunities come available we consider them. It is a long-term relationship.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE BOARD WORK AND ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIPS TO A SUCCESSFUL CAREER?
Board service is one we strongly encourage all our candidates to consider because giving back to the community is an opportunity to enhance your skills and be able to take your expertise and help an organization. Work with committees and people outside your network. A critical role is the audit committee, helping the organization manage their financials. (Board work) has to be a part of your personal development strategy because board opportunities don’t just pop up in front of you.

HOW DO EXECUTIVES ASSURE THERE’S STILL A FIT FOR THEM AFTER AN ASSIGNMENT ABROAD?
I highly recommend negotiating that on the front end. What is the process for getting the job back when I return? What will that look like? Let’s be clear on the assignment and the terms on getting back. Negotiate to participate in certain meetings and negotiate in coming back at least twice a year for meetings and having [a] strategy to continue to develop that network but keep the network going back in the states. Once you’re abroad, stay connected.