Co-Chief Executive Officer
Being open and transparent is an essential and intrinsic part of Kathryn Mason, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Rice Search Partners’, leadership style. This has resulted in an ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion within the company. In 2013 Rice Search Partners was predominately white, male, and privately educated. The team is now over 70% diverse (as defined by gender, ethnicity, socioeconomics, and LGBTQ+ criteria) across the company and 66% across the management team.
This evolution has positively impacted the culture, efficiency, and profitability, as well as leading to them partnering with a broader array of clients.
Kathryn likes to lead by example and from the front line, bringing a sense of energy, focus, and passion to each project. She fosters an environment of curiosity and inclusion—one where people can ask questions and develop both as individuals but also as part of the broader team and culture.
“We have always tried to grow the business organically through the development of young talent. This means giving colleagues early exposure, responsibility and ownership,” says Kathryn.
“We must trust them and be comfortable delegating. The characteristics that we try and instill across the business are passion, collaboration, and resiliency, whilst providing a strong strategic and ethical framework in which to work.”
Under the aegis of both Kathryn and James Platt (her co-CEO partner), organic growth through the development of young talent is a core Rice Search Partners’ tenet. Kathryn joined the firm aged 28 and thinks of herself as someone who came “through the ranks,” becoming a Principal, Partner, and then owner. The company takes a bespoke management and motivational approach to each colleague. People develop both professionally and personally at different speeds, but regardless of how quickly, it requires supportive early exposure to opportunities, trust, and delegating real responsibilities. “Once we were able to return to the office after covid restrictions, we introduced an ongoing bespoke learning and development plan. This combines knowledge (such as a round table with a senior candidate to discuss their role and organisation), soft skills (such as body language, voice training, or how to “tell a story”), technical skills (such as PowerPoint) and life skills (such as personal finances),” explains Kathryn. “Each Partner gives ongoing (small group or one-to-one) training in the skills required purely for executive search. We also introduced a regular independent opportunity for colleagues to provide anonymous feedback on any aspect of the company.”
Post lockdown we have once again been able to work with some fantastic charities, such as Duchenne UK which focuses on muscular dystrophy. One team has just completed a 24-hour bike dash to Paris and another has volunteered for sky diving over Kent! We have also worked with Progress Together (who focus on socio-economic diversity within financial services) which has broadened both our understanding and ability to impact within this area.
Becoming A Leader
Like many critical moments in life, the opportunity to step into a leadership role was both fortunate and unplanned. After Rice Search Partners de-merged from Rice & Dore in 2013, the occasion presented itself to Kathryn for partnership. “It was an exciting opportunity to not only lead and manage my team, but also be part of the leadership group for the company. Whilst there was no specific “motivation” to lead, I received a huge amount of support from my partner, family, friends, and clients who all told me that I could do it!” she elucidates. “Whilst always feeling that there was more to learn, when the opportunity to manage and purchase the firm with James Platt arose, it felt like a natural continuation of both my personal and the company’s trajectory. James and I had already worked closely for ten years and invested a lot in growing our respective teams. Our market knowledge and clients were complementary, and we worked well together. Our instincts, values and philosophies are aligned. Whilst our personalities and leadership styles are different, we both see that as a benefit.”
Based in London, Kathryn and James lead Rice Search Partners’ Global Executive Search business. Previously, Kathryn worked for Global Risk Solutions (GRS Group), where she focused on senior financial services professionals across both EMEA and the Americas. Kathryn has over fifteen years of experience working with key accounts across global buy and sell side institutions. She holds a First Class Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Philosophy both from the University of Sussex.
Kathryn’s positive leadership approach has taken the company to new heights. Rice Search Partners is a boutique financial services firm headquartered in London, the United Kingdom, with offices in both New York and Switzerland. The firm’s primary areas of expertise are FICC & Equities fundamental and quantitative trading, analytics, risk, corporate functions, digital, data, technology, and operations. They work globally across the financial services industry with over 50% of their business being conducted in the Americas.
Priorities & Future
Looking ahead, on a business level, Kathryn’s priority is to continue to develop Rice Search Partners. “There is always more that I can learn from everyone with whom I work, be those colleagues, clients, or candidates. Developing others is critically important to us and it remains a day-to-day focus,” explains Kathryn. “Having such a diverse team means that I continually learn about different cultures and backgrounds, adapting my style and approach to what best motivates each person.”
On a personal level, Kathryn’s priorities are to develop her public speaking and presenting style when talking to larger audiences. “I always start the year with goals to spend more quality time with my friends, family, and young children. Planning trips and enjoying some “time-off” are both important. Trying to be the best parent and partner more so” says Kathryn. “My biggest professional achievement has been to buy Rice Search Partners, to own and manage my own company by the age of 40. This is simply not something that I envisaged growing up. I have always viewed executive search as truly meritocratic. It can provide opportunities to work with extraordinary people, to travel, and for economic freedom. I did not think that it would present me with the opportunity to be a business owner as well.”