Korn Ferry


In this firm profile, we conduct a deep-dive into Korn Ferry, an executive search firm and organizational consultancy. Korn Ferry has a history of recruiting and executive search dating back to 1969, but not until recent years has the firm established itself as a management consultancy. A recent string of strategic acquisitions – most notably, HR consulting firm Hay Group in 2015 – have helped solidify this shift for Korn Ferry.

What makes Korn Ferry unique is the firm’s two-pronged approach to organizational development: one part strategy (consulting) and another part people (executive search/recruiting). These two directives combine to make Korn Ferry a force to be reckoned with – the firm’s almost $2B in revenue in 2019 is testament to this. If you’re still asking, “What is Korn Ferry?” keep reading!

Firm Profile Overview (click to jump to section):


  • Korn Ferry Website: https://www.kornferry.com/
  • Korn Ferry Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA
  • Korn Ferry Employees: 8,600 employees
  • Korn Ferry Locations: 100+ offices, 50 countries
  • Korn Ferry Chief Executive: Gary D. Burnison, Chief Executive Officer and Member, Board of Directors
  • Korn Ferry Revenue: $1.9B
  • Korn Ferry Engagement Cost: ~$250K


In the mid-1960’s, Lester Korn and Richard Ferry were both in the executive search department at Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co (which would later become KPMG). Korn and Ferry both made partner at the firm, but despite success within the organization, the two partners wanted something more. In 1969, with a $10,000 investment, they started Korn/Ferry in Los Angeles, CA.

Korn/Ferry started off as a personnel consulting agency, but soon moved to focus solely on executive search. With the combination of Korn and Ferry’s experience in executive search, and an untapped market on the West Coast, the firm started taking off. Korn/Ferry was run in a highly organized and efficient manner, which was unlike the typical search firm of the day. The operational efficiency, along with creative marketing strategies developed by Korn, paved the way for the success that Korn/Ferry would experience.

By the firm’s third year in business, it reached $1.8M in annual revenue with a staff of over 40. The company created several specialty divisions, including real estate, petrochemicals/energy and financial services. In 1972, Korn/Ferry expanded to Europe through merging with a British search firm, G.K. Dickinson Ltd. Several months later, they opened an office in Japan.

Korn/Ferry continued to grow rapidly throughout the 70’s, expanding into Latin America and Australia in 1977 and 1979 respectively. In 1981, the firm was named the number one search firm in the world. By 1985, just after Korn/Ferry’s 15th anniversary, the firm recorded $58 million in annual revenues. By that time, the firm had over 400 employees and 36 offices worldwide and was performing 1,500 executive searches per year.

Growth stagnated over the next decade due to increased competition in the industry and a faltering economy. However, international recruiting picked up in the mid 90’s with Korn/Ferry’s $20M purchase of Carre Orban International, boosting the firm’s European presence. That purchase paid dividends, as soon after, international recruiting become a massive growth area and soon amounted to half of the firm’s revenues.

In 1997, the firm started to offer an internet-based recruitment service, which would become FutureStep. This expanded Korn/Ferry’s scope by targeting middle management executives, a previously-neglected area. Today, FutureStep is a leader in recruitment process outsourcing.

In 1999, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock price faltered initially, but rebounded by the end of the year. After the IPO, Korn/Ferry began a tear of acquisitions, some of them more high-profile than others. The list includes: Hofmann Herbold, Amrop International, PA Consulting Group, Westgate Group, Pratzer & Partners, Inc., Levy Kerson, Helstrom Turner & Associates, Pearson, Caldwell, & Farnworth, Lominger Limited, LeaderSource, Lore International Institute, Whitehead Mann, Sensa Solutions, PDI Ninth House, Pivot Leadership, Hay Group, Miller Heiman Group, AchieveForum, and Strategy Execution.

Whew! Let’s focus on a few of the notable acquisitions here. In 2015, Korn/Ferry completed a $452M buyout of the Hay Group, a darling in the boutique organizational consulting realm. Hay Group was a global firm known for motivating, developing and training their clients’ staff, as well as for the research they carry out on the companies they work with. Basically, they’re HR and research gurus, which bolstered Korn/Ferry’s organizational consulting acumen and gave the firm a much stronger presence when it comes to strategy execution.

In 2019, Korn/Ferry – now Korn Ferry after a 2018 re-brand – acquired the Miller Heiman Group, a well-known sales training and consulting firm. Miller Heiman offers in-depth training, consulting, research and technology solutions for sales and service, giving Korn Ferry an edge in leadership development capabilities.

Today, Korn Ferry has three lines of business: executive search, consulting, and recruiting (through FutureStep). In 2020, Korn Ferry was named as the number one executive search firm in the U.S. for the 4th straight year. The firm is in great shape going forward, and it doesn’t appear likely that Korn Ferry will be bumped off the number one spot anytime soon.


Korn Ferry is headed by Gary D. Burnison as CEO and a member of the board of directors. In addition, Mark Arian serves as CEO of the firm’s consulting arm. Below them is a team of 19 executives that make up the breadth of the organization.

Practice Areas

1.    Organizational Strategy
      • Organization effectiveness
      • Cultural transformation
      • Strategic workforce planning
      • Employee engagement
      • Performance management
      • HR effectiveness
      • Career transition & outplacement
2.    Assessment & Succession
      • Executive success profiles
      • Leadership assessment
      • Succession management
3.    Talent Acquisition
      • Board & CEO services
      • Executive search
      • Professional search
      • Recruitment process outsourcing
      • Project recruitment
4.    Leadership Development
      • Enterprise leadership development
      • Senior leadership team development
      • Leadership accelerator portfolio
      • Custom leadership development programs
5.     Rewards & Benefits
      • Executive pay & governance
      • Employee rewards
      • Work measurement
      • Sales compensation


    • Consumer
    • Financial
    • Healthcare
    • Industrial
    • Life Sciences
    • Private Markets
    • Public Service
    • Technology

Office Locations

Korn Ferry is truly a global company, with over 100 offices in 50 countries. The firm also has a small number of what they refer to as “Talent Delivery Centers” spread across the globe. Some cities even have both an office and a talent delivery center, as is the case with Korn Ferry Dallas, for example.

Asia / Australasia

      • Auckland, New Zealand
      • Bangalore, India
      • Bangkok, Thailand
      • Beijing, China
      • Brisbane, Australia
      • Guangzhou, China
      • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
      • Hong Kong
      • Jakarta, Indonesia
      • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
      • Melbourne, Australia
      • Mumbai, India
      • New Delhi, India
      • Perth, Australia
      • Seoul, South Korea
      • Shanghai, China
      • Shenzhen, China
      • Singapore
      • Sydney, Australia
      • Taipei, Taiwan
      • Tokyo, Japan
      • Wellington, New Zealand

South America

      • Bogota, Colombia
      • Buenos Aires, Argentina
      • Lima, Peru
      • Medellin, Colombia
      • Quito, Ecuador
      • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
      • San Jose, Costa Rica
      • Santiago, Chile
      • Sao Paulo, Brazil


      • Amberg, Germany
      • Amsterdam, Netherlands
      • Athens, Greece
      • Barcelona, Spain
      • Berlin, Germany
      • Bratislava, Slovakia
      • Brussels, Belgium
      • Bucharest, Romania
      • Budapest, Hungary
      • Copenhagen, Denmark
      • Dublin, Ireland
      • Dusseldorf, Germany
      • Enschede, Netherlands
      • Frankfurt, Germany
      • Hamburg, Germany
      • Helsinki, Finland
      • Istanbul, Turkey
      • Kiev, Ukraine
      • Levallois Perret, France
      • Lisbon, Portugal
      • London, UK
      • Luxembourg
      • Lyon, France
      • Madrid, Spain
      • Milan, Italy
      • Moscow, Russia
      • Oslo, Norway
      • Paris, France
      • Pilsen, Czech Republic
      • Prague, Czech Republic
      • Rome, Italy
      • Stockholm, Sweden
      • Thame, UK
      • Vienna, Austria
      • Vilnius, Lithuania
      • Warsaw, Poland
      • Zurich, Switzerland

United States

      • Atlanta, GA
      • Boston, MA
      • Chicago, IL
      • Dallas, TX
      • Houston, TX
      • Irvine, CA
      • Kansas, MO
      • Los Angeles, CA
      • Miami, FL
      • Minneapolis, MN
      • New York, NY
      • Philadelphia, PA
      • Portland, OR
      • Princeton, NJ
      • Reston, VA
      • San Francisco, CA
      • Scottsdale, AZ
      • Stamford, CT
      • Washington DC

North America

      • Calgary, Canada
      • Mexico City, Mexico
      • Montreal, Canada
      • Monterrey, Mexico
      • Ottawa, Canada
      • Regina, Canada
      • Toronto, Canada
      • Vancouver, Canada

Middle East & Africa

      • Abu Dhabi, UAE
      • Almaty, Kazakhstan
      • Cape Town, South Africa
      • Doha, Qatar
      • Dubai, UAE
      • Johannesburg, South Africa
      • Nairobi, Kenya
      • Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan
      • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
      • Tel Aviv, Israel

Career Path

Korn Ferry careers look different depending on where you land in the company i.e. consulting or recruiting. You can expect the career path on the recruiting side of the company to look something like this:

Recruiter > Associate Recruiter > Senior Recruiter > Director

The consulting / advisory career path at Korn Ferry is a bit different, yet standard for management consulting:

Analyst > Associate Consultant > Senior Consultant > Manager > Principal > Partner

As for Korn Ferry internships, the firm offers actuarial summer internships. If you do well and they like you, you have a good chance of being considered for a full-time job offer.

Exit Opportunities

Korn Ferry exit opportunities are diverse and varied. The average length of employment at the firm is just shy of 3 years, and many choose to go to another search firm such as Heidrick & Struggles, Spencer Stuart, or Russell Reynolds.

Consultants often exit to bigger brand-name consultancies, generally in the HR practice areas. These firms include Deloitte, PwC, Mercer, and Willis Towers Watson.

A 3rd and smaller segment leaves for corporate America, ending up at organizations like The Walt Disney Company, Amgen, Amazon, and IBM.

As you can see, the exit opportunities at Korn Ferry are many. Unfortunately, if you are hoping to land a job with an MBB firm out of a role with KF, you have an uphill climb in front of you. But if the world of recruiting is your jam, Korn Ferry is the place to be!


What is Korn Ferry culture like? The firm scores very well when it comes to creating an inclusive and diverse culture for its employees. Korn Ferry employs women as a high percentage of the total workforce, women in business, korn ferryand was rated as one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2019 by Working Mother. The firm offers inclusive benefits for families, including generous maternity and parental leave and affordable emergency childcare.

Benefits at Korn Ferry are a solid plus, with good health insurance plans (if expensive), 401K matching, vacation & sick leave policy, and tuition reimbursement for certain classes. The firm offers good flexibility and remote work options.

Employees at KF enjoy working alongside smart, creative professionals. The firm is generally known for an open and inclusive work environment, where people are empowered to share their ideas and make contributions that matter. As the #1 executive search firm in the U.S., and a consultancy on the rise, the firm also offers above-average training and development opportunities for its staff.

Where could the firm improve? Some employees feel that there is a disconnect between upper management and lower level workers. They cite the high turnover rate at the firm as evidence of a sloppy culture created, in large part, by the C-suite execs who don’t grasp what the actual work of the company is.

Another ding to the reputation of Korn Ferry is claims of a scarcity of promotions and raises. If that’s not enough, Glassdoor reviews don’t speak kindly to the “just good enough” salaries. To see what you can make at other management consulting firms, check out our latest salaries report.

Core Values

    • Inclusion
    • Honesty
    • Knowledge
    • Performance


    • 2020 Best Companies for Women, Women’s Choice Award
    • Perfect score of 100 on 2020 Corporate Equality Index, Human Rights Campaign
    • America’s Best Executive Recruiter for 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017, Forbes Magazine


Applicants can expect the interview and recruiting process to last between 2 to 6 weeks. Several phone screens are to be expected, as well as a video interview or two. In-person interviews also occur in the place of, or in addition to, the video interview(s), but the process is not standardized across the board. Expect the unexpected! A behavioral assessment test is also issued to the applicants during the interview process.

Interview questions tend to be on the easier side. You can expect to explain why you are a fit for the firm and the position being interviewed for. A round of behavioral questions can also be expected.

The typical behavioral interview questions you can expect to face:

  • Can you tell me about a situation where you had to make a challenging decision?
  • What is your previous work experience?
  • Why recruiting?
  • What’s your biggest success?

According to Glassdoor reviews, the Korn Ferry interview process is anything but standardized and the hiring process is largely left up to the interviewer.

If you’re applying for a role at the firm – consulting or executive search – and need tailored help with your interview preparation, work with us on 1:1 interview prep.

Target Schools

    • Columbia University
    • Cornell University
    • Harvard Business School
    • INSEAD
    • New York University
    • North Carolina State University
    • Northwestern University
    • Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
    • The London School of Economics and Political Science
    • The University of Manchester
    • University of California – Los Angeles
    • University of Manchester
    • University of Maryland
    • University of Michigan
    • University of Minnesota
    • University of North Texas
    • University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School
    • University of Southern California Marshall School of Business
    • University of Virginia Darden School of Business


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Filed Under: Boutique Consulting Firms, Consulting Firms