From Albuquerque Academy to Wickenden Associates to DRG

Oct. 13, 2020

Andrew Watson

[This article was originally published by Andrew Watson on LinkedIn on 10/13/2020]


Working on the faculty of the National Association of Independent (NAIS) Institute for New Heads, I would sometimes hear school leaders complain that the reality of their new schools didn’t match what they observed while going through the search process. Sad, but occasionally true, and something I know Wickenden Associates (WA) has worked hard to prevent ever since Jim Wickenden founded the firm in 1986.  How ironic then that after choosing Wickenden Associates for my next professional journey, my own expectations turned out to be premature. No complaints, though, as what I thought was a perfect fit turned out even better when WA joined forces with DRG Talent Advisory Group (DRG) over the summer.

I’m still learning more, but it is clear to me that the combined companies are stronger together as we:

  • Broaden both our candidate pools and network of clients. WA specializes in independent schools, while DRG serves both schools and an impressive list of nonprofit organizations. The combined breadth of experience will serve our clients well.
  • Combine the deep experience and the highly professional, high touch approach of WA with great customer experience and new modern approaches at the equally personalized DRG.
  • Offer the possibility of matching school leaders with nonprofit work and, perhaps, nonprofit leaders with schools.
  • Combine our New York City and Princeton physical presences with a growing team in nine cities throughout the country to address client needs close to home.
  • Practice what we preach re: diversity, equity, and inclusion. The combined organization brings together a beautiful and diverse array of talents and backgrounds. Like the rest of the world, we will always continue to learn and grow in these areas, but our teams, our trainings, and our placements all demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

It has been a joy already working with my new colleagues. While our work will take place throughout the country and the world, I’ll be staying in Albuquerque. It is a good place, and it keeps me close to the wonderful Albuquerque Academy community. My arrival at the school 19 years ago (yes, it was a Wickenden search) started out as an adventure, but then evolved to be an amazing professional fit. I’ve since learned that this is something DRG and Wickenden take great pride in tracking as they seek and find “fit” at a very high level in their searches. Staying in Albuquerque also broadens the DRG/Wickenden footprint as I remain in touch with the many schools and leaders I’ve long admired in the West.

So, I don’t think there is an Avenida de Madison here in New Mexico, and little did I imagine that these wonderful new colleagues from DRG would be part of the deal when I told Jim Wickenden that I would be joining his team in September. But, after all, Bugs Bunny took a “left turn” at Albuquerque, and everything worked out just fine. I can’t wait to see where my own “left turn” at DRG/Wickenden will take me and the schools/candidates we serve.

Most of all, I am pleased that this next phase of work will keep me in touch with dear friends from NAIS schools while also introducing me to other great leaders and organizations in the nonprofit sector.

So, hasta luego, friends and new friends. I can’t wait to support you and your organizations alongside my new colleagues!


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[This article was originally published by Andrew Watson on LinkedIn on 10/13/2020]