02/27/2013

Fortress Pressure Prompts Recruiter’s Ouster

Executive-search firm iFind Group has dropped one of its three partners to salvage its relationship with Fortress Investment.

The former partner, Craig Tisdale, was shown the door in the past few weeks after Fortress executive Louis Thorne made it clear that the $52 billion fund operator wouldn’t do business with iFind if Tisdale continued to work there, sources said. In the wake of Tisdale’s departure, the New York search firm continues to field assignments from Fortress.

The trouble began when Tisdale last year approached another Fortress executive, Dov Eisner, about working on a hiring mandate, one source said. Specifically, Tisdale expressed an interest in helping to line up a replacement for Thorne, who had been offered a job by another investment manager. The problem was that at the time of Tisdale’s conversation with Eisner, Thorne hadn’t yet given notice at Fortress.

As it turned out, Fortress convinced Thorne to stay, then promoted him to a position over Eisner. When Eisner subsequently gave notice that he was leaving, Tisdale approached Thorne about working on that assignment. That’s when Thorne delivered his ultimatum to iFind.

It’s unclear whether Tisdale knew that Thorne hadn’t yet given notice when he approached Eisner about the assignment.

Both Tisdale and one of the two remaining iFind partners, Rene Letendre, denied that Tisdale was fired or that the Fortress incident occurred. The two joined iFind together in January 2012 from rival recruitment firm Atlantic Group. iFind’s other remaining partner is Jodi Wechsler, who co-founded the firm in 2007.

“We signed a one-year deal and decided to part on good terms,” Tisdale said. “We are going in different directions.”

But one industry source said the split should be a cautionary tale for recruiters. “It’s kind of like recruiter code — you don’t do that,” he said. “I think there’s an ethical code you have with candidates and clients that anything you learn clandestinely be kept between the two parties.”

Another source said he was surprised that iFind gave in to Thorne’s demand. “That’s pretty rare,” he said. “If someone told me that, I’d say I’m keeping my person. People’s lives are at stake — plus what kind of message does that send your staff? Everyone makes mistakes.”

Thorne is now chief operating officer of Fortress’ $4.4 billion liquid-markets hedge fund business. Eisner, a regional chief financial officer in Thorne’s group, hasn’t left Fortress yet and currently is interviewing candidates to fill his own position.

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