Adam Zak Story

My name is Adam Zak.  I help companies recruit truly exceptional Lean leaders.

I had been doing retained executive search work for a number of years when I decided to break out on my own and create Adams & Associates International in 1990. Working for a few years with a couple of the very largest search firms had convinced me that I could add significantly more value and provide infinitely better service and quality to my clients from a smaller and more focused and responsive platform. Plus, even as a big-firm partner, I had never really felt much like my own boss. That changed when my name – today Adam Zak Executive Search – went on the door.

My Work

From the very beginning I’ve built my expertise and concentrated my recruiting work in the area of corporate operations.   I define operations in a fairly broad sense and for most of my clients that usually comprises engineering, production/manufacturing, quality, supply chain, etc.  In the case of non-manufacturing organizations that includes direct service activities (e.g., United Air Lines managing its fleet, or Porsche Financial Services approving dealership floor plans) or back-office support functions (GE Europe managing its real estate footprint, Discover Card Network processing automatic monthly customer credit charges).

I’ve done most of my work in North America, but also at various times and even for some extended periods, in Europe, Japan and China. Clients include small entrepreneurial companies (think: “Lean Start-Up”), mid-market and privately held organizations, private equity portfolio companies, and a number of the Fortune 500.

My first experience with Lean recruiting arrived in the form of a search for the Robert Bosch Corporation in 1996, and that was quickly followed by two additional Lean executive search projects for Delphi Automotive and ArvinMeritor.  In 1997 I helped McKinsey & Co. as they began to recruit experienced Lean practitioners into what eventually became their global operations and operational excellence consulting practice. Over the next decade I would help the Firm with dozens of these searches in the Americas, Europe and China.

By 2003 my Lean executive search practice had reached just over 50% of the work I was doing, in both line (VP Operations, SVP Quality) and staff (VP Lean Manufacturing, Director, Global Operational Excellence) positions.

Today most of my work is at the VP, Director or President/COO level, split about 60/40 or so between line and staff roles. And it’s not very likely that I’ll be working with any organization that does not embrace the foundational Lean principles of respect for people and continuous improvement.

My Story

Prior to launching my firm, Adam Zak Executive Search, I learned the basics of executive recruiting with a couple of the big firms in Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Early on, I had started my career with KPMG Peat Marwick, and subsequently worked in a few manufacturing and financial services companies in accounting and finance, operations, and general management roles.  I had also spent some time at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm which funded some of the great start-ups of the 1980s.

I know the word “passionate” gets a lot of space in the management and leadership texts these days, but I’d have to say it’s an accurate description of the way I go about doing what I do.  I get excited about each new executive search, each new challenge to make an impact on my client’s company, and I think the results of my work clearly demonstrate the commitment I have to my clients’ success.

Clients tell me they appreciate that I work with them in a highly collaborative fashion.  Unlike many recruiting “vendors” who work for a company, I take great pride in working with my clients in a highly interactive partnership at every stage of the executive recruiting project. With energy and enthusiasm for each and every search I undertake. And I appreciate their loyalty to me as well, demonstrated over the years with repeat engagements and fantastic referrals to friends and colleagues.

When I’m not chasing after the perfect candidate for your executive search I try to be as active as possible in a few professional organizations including the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), Executives Club of Chicago, Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

I like to talk in front of big crowds as well as in more intimate settings on topics that spark my interest such as international business management, manufacturing technology and executive leadership. I write, from time to time, when I’m not too busy doing great search work.

I wrote my first book in collaboration with an awesome Lean Thinker in his own right, Bill Waddell.  Simple Excellence: Organizing & Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation. I’m pleased at the great reviews we’ve received, and that it continues to be a popular read.

If you’d like to discuss executive recruiting, or learn more about how we might work together, please contact me directly.  With confidence and, of course, confidentially.

+1 239.302.3344 in Naples, FL