May 22, 2009

KULPER Advisory Board Formed

By John Holl, Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum

NEW YORK – Keith Kulper, President, Kulper & Company, stood in the middle of the conference room and looked out at the Advisory Boards members he had assembled.

 “One of my ideas when I founded this company was to make sure that we were always thinking about people.”

He smiled and continued.

“You can see by the people who are here that our focus is on assisting senior level decision makers. Knowing people like this is a privilege for me.

The day was almost over and by all accounts the first Advisory Board meeting held by Kulper’s 13-year-old company was informative with stimulating discussions. 

The advisory board, chaired by Jeff Blade, a consumer products senior executive and trustee of The Greenleaf Center was there to learn more about the executive search profession, hear from industry leaders and help further develop the ISO 9001:2000 registered professional services firm through new business referrals, candidate nominations and advice.

Kulper & Company conducts high-level assignments for senior executives and administrators. With impressive experience in key industries like manufacturing, financial services, consumer products and higher education, they work on searches at all executive levels.

The day began with a case study moderated by Dr. William Matthewson, a professor at New Jersey’s William Paterson University.

Dr. Matthewson, quickly got the group engaged in a lively discussion about an executive search case that brought a variety of ideas to the table with just as many different approaches.

 That discussion was the perfect segue for Jerry M. Hultin, President NYU Polytechnic who discussed the implementation of his vision for the school, including breathing new life into a venerable institution.

Hultin, who from 1997 to 2000 served as under secretary of the U.S. Navy talked about the challenges of reinventing and rejuvenating NYU Polytechnic. So far he can point to raising the level of SAT scores by accepted students, increased support from alumni and close collaboration with his new colleagues at NYU.

Capitalizing off the meeting’s location at the Cooper Hewitt and a recent exhibit entitled Design for the Other 90 Percent, the board was able to see the full range of talents of the Kulper family.

 Keith’s son, Sloan, gave a lecture and demonstration on the Portable Light Project that his company, Kennedy Violich Architecture, LTD ( ) designed for use in third world countries, using solar panels and rechargeable batteries. The light was one of the products featured at the museum in its recent show and is currently on display at the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta.

Family was a popular theme of the day, and an inspiriting moment came when the father and son team of Sander and Jonathon Flaum read from their inspirational leadership book, The 100-Mile Walk.

 Jonathan described the book as helping people “seeing something bigger. If we are walking, things become bigger and clearer.”

 The book uses a number of dimensions of leadership beginning with the letter P, including People, Passion, Persistence and others to illustrate the true meaning of leadership.  “Passion. That’s what it is all about,” said Sander Flaum, Managing Partner of Flaum Partners, “You love what you do or you do something else.”

And it was indeed passion that came across from Kulper as he discussed the finer points of his business and asked the advisory board for its feedback, which was graciously offered.

“One thing that you do really well is work with the candidates to make sure they understand the job and what it takes to be successful in the position,” said Dr. Helena Wisniewski, who serves on the board of directors for Greatbatch, Inc. “You are like a coach. Kudos. You do it quite well.”

Kulper was gracious with the praise.

“Being process oriented means that we do not forget to do the important things along the way,” said Kulper as the day came to a close. “Continual improvement and innovation lie at the heart of our practice. Client, candidate and advisory board member satisfaction is what is what we strive for.”