Below is our recent interview with Adam Slone, the Founder of Slone Partners:
Q: Adam, what do you recall about the early days of Slone Partners?
A: The first couple of months were exhilarating, but also a bit scary. Prior to founding Slone Partners, I served as Vice President of Molecular and Genetics Sales for American Medical Laboratories, where I gained a great deal of experience connecting people I knew with good companies. So when I first went off on my own I was bursting with confidence, but I quickly realized that there was still a lot to learn in this business! And then, less than a year after I launched the company, 9/11 happened, and the nation fell into an economic recession, so it really was a very challenging time for me and Slone Partners.
For a time, I was truly torn between continuing with my business or going back to my previous job. I had to do some deep soul-searching, but I decided to weather the storm and move forward. Those early months required intense focus and commitment, but that difficult period taught me many things, and represented a turning point for me in my professional career. And, 20 years later I am so glad I made that decision.
Q: What drove your decision to decentralize Slone Partners’ operations rather than creating a single headquarters and how do you nurture the culture in a virtual company?
A: I would love to say it was planned, but it turned out to be an outcome of circumstance. I rented office space early on, but determined fairly quickly that it was both expensive and impractical. Our clients preferred meeting in their offices, or at a coffee shop or a restaurant, so our physical office space became unnecessary. Remember that these were also tight times economically, so I was focused on maximizing service for our clients while reducing our expenses. And in becoming a remote company we increased our time in the field.
When you’re meeting clients on their ground, and meeting with candidates on neutral ground, you spend meaningful time building face-to-face relationships instead of spending energy managing an office and the associated infrastructure. Decentralizing, in that context, allowed us to focus more on the work and it also saved the team hours of commuting.
Once we realized this remote office structure worked, we decided to restate our mission and began building our own culture of caring for one another more deeply as people, while emphasizing accountability. As a consequence, this new kind of infrastructure built trust among the team and gave each member of the team the ability to deliver results from their own work spaces, maximizing efficiency and improving work/life balance. The result has been a wonderful corporate culture that has helped us achieve amazing results.
Q: Was there a eureka moment when you knew that specializing in life sciences would be, or was, the right decision?
A: Within about five years after founding Slone Partners, we saw a significant shift globally towards precision medicine and individualized care. It was interesting to see the reaction from various sectors within healthcare including therapeutics, life sciences, biotech, diagnostics, and clinical services. So it wasn’t quite a eureka moment; it was more about understanding the larger puzzle consisting of distinct pieces – policies, finance, clients, and candidates.
As a search firm, it is imperative to follow investor interest in the market, and life sciences investments, particularly connected to biotech and personalized medicine, are growing stronger every day. Our client base has also grown dramatically in this space, and I credit Leslie and Tara with pushing our company forward to the point where we have become national leaders in life sciences and biotech recruiting.
Q: As a team builder yourself, is there a common thread – a certain background or trait – that flows through the people you hire for Slone Partners?
A: Absolutely. It’s about core values as a framework. We hire smart, passionate, devoted team players with outstanding character. The onboarding process at Slone Partners is very hands on. Our senior people offer considerate and compassionate support from day one for new employees to set them up for success. This is a vitally important part of our company culture. Our senior people received that same courtesy when they were new and they pay it forward.
Cultural fit is absolutely essential on our team; people have to fit in. In the early days, we made some mistakes on cultural fit, but we learned from those mistakes. That’s why today, for our clients, cultural fit is the biggest priority we have when vetting candidates. That piece is absolutely critical for us and our client partners.
Q: Is there a particular utility for life sciences companies to engage an executive search partner?
A: Like almost any industry, recruiting high-performing executives is challenging. The market is incredibly tight and has been that way at the highest levels of life sciences for many years, with the best talent having unprecedented mobility. Finding the right people, and keeping the right people, is critical.
On the client side, it’s smart for any company to work with a specialist in order to have access to the widest possible network of candidates, and Slone Partners is clearly a leader in this area within biotech and life sciences. For candidates, it’s about having access to the right positions with the right companies. Slone Partners makes important connections and instills trust and confidence in all parties involved.
Q: Can you tell us about your decision to co-found Wolf Hill Group, the cybersecurity executive search firm?
A: I like building things and solving problems. Over the years, I stayed in close touch with Mike Mosunic, who was our first hire at Slone Partners years ago. Through our discussions we realized that there was no clear leader in cybersecurity executive search. This comes at a time when more and more of Slone Partners’ high-level IT searches involve finding executives with a strong security background. Life sciences companies need to protect company data, intellectual property, patient data, and much more. So, after doing some homework, we decided to enter into cybersecurity search with Mike as CEO of Wolf Hill Group.
Wolf Hill Group helps companies find cybersecurity leadership regardless of the industry they’re in. It’s definitely an adjustment to go from an established company like Slone Partners to a startup with little name recognition, but by implementing the same processes and cultural feel that we have at Slone Partners – and with Leslie and Tara offering their support – I believe strongly that Wolf Hill Group will be a tremendous success.