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executive search firm higher education

Gary Rhoads, Founder


I founded Strategic Search Advantage to provide a cost saving, strategic advantage to the in-house executive search efforts of higher education institutions.

Meeting a Need for Cost-Effective Search

As the former Managing Director of one of the leading national executive search firms serving higher education, I observed an increasing need for an alternative to high cost executive search firm fee structures. In an exceedingly challenging fiscal environment, a growing number of institutions were undertaking in-house searches, and their search efforts were producing smaller, less-qualified applicant pools. Additionally, many executive search firms, forgoing extensive research and networking, were developing an over reliance on ads, web postings, and mass email campaigns.

Cultivating a Superior Candidate Pool

I knew colleges and universities possessed the senior leadership, human resource departments, and search committees to initiate a search process and qualify an applicant pool. What they lacked was the internal capability and support to undertake the aggressive recruitment of the candidate pool. I set out to isolate the one key component of the search process vital for recruitment success, the cultivation of the candidate pool, and focus a set of services on this one essential element. That focus generates a strong and well-qualified candidate pool, just like a full executive search, but at a fraction of the cost.

Providing a Service With Focus and Attention

Through rigorous original research and aggressive candidate networking, components vital to a winning recruitment strategy, our firm assembles robust pools of superior candidates. We relish the challenge, exploration, creativity, nuance, and personal contacts afforded in the research and networking of each recruitment effort, and strive to provide a service with responsiveness and personal attention.

Background and Education

Prior to my Managing Director role in executive search, I served over 20 years as a senior healthcare executive, including 10 years as a hospital President and Chief Executive Officer. I hold a Master’s degree from The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. I am a Diplomate in the American College of Healthcare Executives and have served as a board member for many civic, community, economic development, and health-related organizations.

On a personal note, I'm an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoy hiking, kayaking, sailing, and mountain biking.

Link to LinkedIn

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