updated 2/7/2011 6:17:05 PM ET 2011-02-07T23:17:05

CHICAGO, Feb. 7, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "2011 will see a surge in board director searches, reflecting new developments at companies as they move into recovery mode and act from a position of greater confidence," says Ted Dysart, a Vice Chairman at Heidrick & Struggles and one of the leading search consultants in their board of directors practice.

"Boards are expressing a 14% higher confidence level in the economy today versus last quarter, according to the new Board Confidence Index survey that Heidrick & Struggles conducted with the National Association of Corporate Directors and Pearl Meyer & Partners," says Mr. Dysart. "This jump means that boards – who control the expenditure of large capital costs in companies – are more willing to take the risks needed to expand their business."

Two trends in particular are driving the upswing in director recruiting, says Mr. Dysart, including:

  1. More board retirements. "The crisis caused a slowdown in director turnover for the first 18 months or so after the market drop-off. Boards shored up with the team they had in order to figure out how to survive the shock, and many directors deferred retirement during this time. Now that we're moving into recovery, we're seeing both the deferred retirements plus the normal board retirements, leading to a greater demand for directors to replace those who are leaving."
  2. Renewed demand for sector expertise. "For years after Sarbanes-Oxley, there was a loud call for independence over anything else when selecting directors. Of course, boards need the independence and insight that outside directors bring to the table, but this trend also left some company boardrooms full of people without sector expertise. We are seeing a 'back to basics' in the screens that companies are looking for in recruiting new directors, and a return to people who have solid sector expertise – particularly in the financial services, technology, and healthcare areas."

How will renewed confidence affect hiring?

"In the midst of the financial crisis, it was all about cutting costs and reigning in. Now companies are thinking about growth and hiring – how are they going to take advantage of the other side of this cycle?

"But we will not see the same rush to replace nearly all workers that has occurred in previous economic cycles. Frankly, CEOs have wrung so many efficiencies out of their systems since 2008 that they have learned how to do more with less; they are not throwing people at a problem. Now, instead of replacing the 1000 employees it took to do a job, they'll manage with 300.

"With all these efficiencies, profit lines will be steeper as companies benefit from the rejuvenated economy, but overall hiring is still not going to recover completely. This recovery is much more cautious, steady, and disciplined."

For more information, or to speak with Ted Dysart, please contact Lia Morreale at 312-496-1788 or lmorreale@heidrick.com or Wendi Taylor Nations at 312-496-1810 or wtaylornations@heidrick.com.

Theodore L. (Ted) Dysart is a Vice Chairman with Heidrick & Struggles, where he is a leader in the global Board of Directors Practice and an active member of the CEO search practice. Mr. Dysart is responsible for senior-level executive search assignments and is a functional specialist, working exclusively on board, CEO and succession planning engagements. He has placed more than 500 executives on the boards of Fortune 500, mid-cap, and private companies. 

About Heidrick & Struggles

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., (Nasdaq:HSII) is the leadership advisory firm providing senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services, including succession planning, executive assessment and development, talent retention management, transition consulting for newly appointed executives, and M&A human capital integration consulting. For almost 60 years, we have focused on quality service and built strong leadership teams through our relationships with clients and individuals worldwide. Today, Heidrick & Struggles' leadership experts operate from principal business centers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information about Heidrick & Struggles, please visit www.heidrick.com .

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