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M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Sanjay Sathé, Founder & CEO, SucceedSmart

By February 2, 2024Article

Sanjay Sathé, Founder & CEO of SucceedSmart, is no stranger to disrupting established industries. Previously, Sathé spearheaded RiseSmart’s evolution from a concept based on his personal experiences into a major disruptor in the $3B outplacement industry, becoming the fastest-growing outplacement firm in the world. In September 2015, RiseSmart was acquired for $100M by Randstad.

Launching SucceedSmart, a modern executive recruitment platform with a unique blend of proprietary, patent-pending AI and human expertise, was a culmination of Sathé’s 15 years as a candidate of executive search and 15 years as a buyer of executive search. It was clear that the industry was living in the past and ripe for disruption.

While many organizations across the broader HR market were embracing technology, the executive search industry continued to operate almost entirely offline and saw a lack of innovation and technology adoption over the past 50 years.

Sathé invested time in researching both executives and corporate HR leaders to confirm his thinking and when he received a resounding “yes” to the hypothesis, he dove in to launch SucceedSmart in 2020. SucceedSmart is now on a mission to modernize leadership recruiting for director to C-level talent and fill complex leadership roles with unmatched agility, accuracy, and affordability, while promoting diversity and transparency

M.R. Rangaswami: How can artificial intelligence (AI) positively impact HR leaders and teams?

Sanjay Sathé: Businesses across industries have increasingly adopted AI in recent years. It’s no longer a question of whether to embrace AI technology—but when and how.

Contrary to the misconception that AI will eliminate jobs, AI can empower CHROs, talent partners, talent acquisition teams, hiring teams and other employees to work more strategically, and improve diversity and inclusivity. By automating routine tasks, AI also frees up time for HR professionals to focus on the “human” side of human resources and build relationships with candidates and employees.

From an HR perspective, AI automates tasks such as talent sourcing, resume screening, and interview scheduling, and helps centralize all candidate information in a streamlined platform. AI technology also unlocks insights about the hiring process and candidate experience to drive improvements over time. Leveraging AI also minimized conscious and unconscious biases in the hiring process by matching candidates with jobs that align with their accomplishments, skills, and experience.

M.R.: What are some of the top challenges in executive recruiting today and how can businesses overcome them?

Sanjay: Leadership has an immeasurable impact on business success and executives are among the most critical employees at any organization. Yet, despite increased turnover, business velocity, and competition, executive search has remained devoid of innovation and technological advancements for half a century.

The traditional executive search process can take several months—leading to a poor candidate experience, as well as lost productivity and revenue as roles go unfilled. The approach is transactional, exclusionary, clubby, time-consuming, and expensive. Not only is the pricing exorbitant, but in retained search, corporations may have to pay all those fees and still not get a candidate. And the same executives are often passed around between firms, leading to a limited talent pool.

Embracing modern executive recruitment technology can help address these challenges, decreasing total time to hire and overall hiring costs, and enable organizations to build more diverse leadership teams. It can also support diversity initiatives by focusing specifically on accomplishments and removing demographic and other personally-identifiable information that may lead to unconscious bias during the hiring process.

M.R.: How can businesses effectively build their leadership pipelines given the Silver Tsunami, meaning the wave of Baby Boomer employees retiring in the coming years? 

Sanjay: More than 11,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age each day and more than 4.1 million Americans are expected to retire each year through 2027.

Traditional executive search primarily focuses on serving organizations—not executives. Firms often wait for executives to reach out to them and the same executives are often passed around between companies, resulting in a limited talent pool. As an increasing number of executives retire as part of the Silver Tsunami, traditional candidate networks are becoming even smaller. 

To improve talent sourcing across all roles amid the Silver Tsunami, organizations can turn to AI-powered candidate recruitment technology—rather than relying on personal connections. This approach enables organizations to be more proactive about succession planning by identifying and nurturing internal talent while simultaneously scouting for external candidates.

A modern executive recruitment platform can support the growing and urgent need to fill executive roles as more workers retire, by enabling corporations to build diverse pipelines of qualified executives and reduce total hiring time to a matter of weeks, compared to four to six months with traditional executive search firms. 

M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of

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