A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:


R.J. Heckman of Korn/Ferry international

Title: President of leadership and talent consulting division.

Age: 45.


As president of Korn/Ferry International’s leadership and talent consulting division in Minneapolis, R.J. Heckman is working to create better leaders who, in turn, can help make a better world.

Heckman was named to his new role after Korn/Ferry, the world’s largest executive search firm, acquired PDI Ninth House, the global leadership solutions company that Heckman had headed as president and CEO.

The vision is for the post-merger organization to be “the Tiffany of talent or the McKinsey of leadership,” Heckman said.

“We’re going to take it one leader, one company, at a time,” Heckman said. “We’re going to drive improvement and change everywhere we go and make as big a dent in the world of leadership and in overall performance as we can.”

Heckman leads a division with 1,000 employees in 70 countries. Nearly 300 work in Minneapolis, including division support staff and Korn/Ferry executive recruiters, making the office Korn/Ferry’s largest.

Heckman joined Personnel Decisions International (PDI) in 1999, moved to Minneapolis in 2007 and the next year became CEO of the company, a pioneer in research-based talent management. He led the 2009 acquisition of Ninth House, which specialized in online and blended learning programs for leaders.

Heckman previously held leadership positions at Honeywell and AT&T. He has a doctorate in industrial/organization psychology from the University of Tulsa.


Q: What was behind the acquisition at PDI Ninth House?

A: PDI had been growing for 45 years through reputation and word-of-mouth. We were very confident that our global strategy made a lot of sense. The two main shareholders were seeking an organization that would share the risk and bring a lot of capital [to drive growth] as well as cachet to the equation.


Q: What goals do you have in your new role?

A: We’re certain to continue the track of strong double-digit-percentage growth that’s well in place now. We’re going to honor and maintain some of the existing capabilities but we have an innovative platform to drive new solutions and growth. A second piece will be to hire and to continue to expand in many critical markets, including this one.


Q: What trends do you see in leadership development?

A: One is we’re going away from a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we’re using assessment methods to pinpoint development challenges and prescribe development opportunities. When we do bring people together, we know what their specific needs and capabilities are. … It’s much more about the application of these new skills against major business challenges.

Todd Nelson