The History of EMA Partners International

In 1988 Carol Speed and James Douglas made an important decision and a rather bold move to take Carol’s company, Kynaston International, to a new level. They put together a plan to take the London-based firm outside of the U.K. and form a small collective with search firms in Germany, France and Belgium. This coincided with, and was prompted by historical events, including the Single European Act (of 1986), followed by the EEC Treaty and the formation of the European Community. The U.K. had experienced ten years of positive economic growth, and in 1988 that growth was peaking. It became apparent to Carol and James that, in order for the firm to compete, and perhaps to survive, they would need to find partners within the European Community. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1988, Carol and James, along with Norman Hampel and Jackie Morgan from Kynaston International, met with Yves Kernevez of Paris, France, Gottfried Schmitz of Frankfurt, Germany and two representatives from Brussels, Christian de Wachter and Kathleen Guerin. Francisco Boada of Spain joined EMA shortly after its formation, and contributed to the organization’s growth until his retirement in 2009.

The minutes reflect that the meeting “was held to establish the basis of an agreement for a joint co-operative venture between the companies to meet the challenges of 1992 in direct competition with large international search companies.”

The European common market was founded on the “four freedoms” which remain central to the EU today: movement of persons, services, goods and capital. With an open market, organizations were free to trade between and amongst their European partners. The association formed by the four countries would become known as “European Management Associates” or, EMA. It was a productive meeting, with agreement being reached with respect to referrals, fee structure and a Code of Ethics. The group also discussed the need to expand the association, and agreed to look for other firms within Europe, with “an emphasis being placed on Spain, Italy and Holland.” Instead, they happenstanced upon another group venture of search practitioners in North America. After taking early retirement in 1985 from Arthur Young & Co. (now Ernst & Young) Ed Mruk formed a company in 1987, which he called MERC, with international partners from the U.S., Singapore and Ireland. Ed had established himself as a pioneer in Executive Search, beginning with Arthur Young & Co in 1960 where he built a division of professionals who consulted in the areas of executive search, and in 1963, added experts in compensation. By the time Ed retired in 1985, he had oversight for nearly 70 search and compensation consultants in North and South America, Europe and Africa. EMA Partners International continued to expand and add Partner offices throughout Europe and the U.S. By the end of 1989, a number of independent firms joined EMA including Lauer Sbarbaro of Chicago. EMA Partners International attracted strong independent firms as a result of its philosophy and business model to establish a global network while maintaining local expertise.

Josefina Stoopen, a highly respected executive search practitioner joined EMA in 1994. Josefina established her firm in Mexico City in the late 70’s and she is recognized as an industry pioneer. Many established and reputable search firms have since joined EMA and the organization has grown to become one of the largest executive search firms in the world. EMA has presence on six continents and it is organized into three geographical regions: Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific with offices in more than forty cities. EMA has had held a Global Meeting since 1990 where Partners from around the world gather to discuss issues of global concern including economic growth, jobs and the future landscape of leadership and search, along with in-depth seminars that address trends and demands across industry sectors. Since its first global meeting in London, the annual gathering has been held in 23 different cities including London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Mexico City, Montreal, São Paulo, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Toronto and Singapore.


Nov. 11 ‘88 - European Management Associates is formed...

Carol Speed and James Douglas of Kynaston International meet with representatives from three consulting and search firms including Bosshard & Associates (Brussels), Yves Kernevez Consultants (Paris) and UMS (Frankfurt) to form a joint cooperative venture.

The association was named: European Management Associates (EMA)


Spring ‘89 - EMA Partners International...

EMA merges with MERC, an association of four search partners in the U.S., Singapore, and Ireland, and becomes known as EMA Partners International. New EMA offices are located in New York, Boston, Singapore and Dublin.


Nov 9/89 - Berlin Wall Falls...

An announcement is made by East German government official Günter Schabowski that, “Permanent relocations can be done through all border checkpoints between the GDR (East Germany) into the FRG (West Germany) or West Berlin.” The Berlin Wall comes down.


1990 - The World Welcomes the WWW...

Tim Berners-Lee, a CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), pens: “WorldWide Web: Proposal for the Hypertext Project”, as a way to share information amongst scientists via the Internet, and by the end of 1990, the first Web page made its appearance.

EMA Partners International adds offices: U.S.A. (Chicago) | Spain (Barcelona) | Italy (Milan) | Belgium (Brussels) | Netherlands (Amsterdam)


1992 - Threat of extinction...

The Grand Banks off the coast of Canada and its bounty of cod brought fishing fleets from around the globe for centuries until July 1992, when the Government of Canada imposed a Cod Moratorium. New technology, larger nets and better fishing vessels led to unprecedented amounts of cod being extracted. In the province of Newfoundland, more than 30,000 jobs were eliminated. The moratorium was supposed to last 2 years, however, it took 20 years for the cod to come back and in 2012 stock remained 90 percent below the levels measured during the 1980s.

EMA Partners International adds an office: Switzerland (Zurich). In 1992 EMA held its Global Meeting in Singapore – for the first time, Partners meet in Asia-Pacific region.


1993 - EMA Global expansion continue...

EMA Partners International adds an offices: Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) | Canada (Montreal).


1994 - The Channel Tunnel opens...

May 1994 – Queen Elizabeth and President Francois Mitterrand open The Channel Tunnel. Referred to as the “Chunnel”, the passageway of nearly 50 kilometers runs under the English Channel connecting England to France. It took 8 years to build, and at the time of completion construction costs were estimated at more than £4.65 billion, an 80% cost overrun.

EMA Partners International adds an office: Mexico (Mexico City)


1995 - The unsolvable is solved...

Grigori Perelman, a Russian mathematician solves an unsolvable problem, Poincaré’s Conjecture on the geometry of multidimensional spaces, which contributed to explaining the shape of the universe. He turned down the Fields Medal, the top award in mathematics and refused a prize of $1 million dollars. He told a friend that he has everything he needs.

EMA Partners International adds an office: Sweden (Stockholm)


1996 - EMA welcomes its São Paulo office...

EMA Partners International adds an office: Brazil (São Paulo).

1996 Global Meeting – Toronto – for the first time, Partners meet in Canada.


2000 - Major merger - $183 Billion...

Mannesmann, a German telecom giant is acquired by Vodafone in a hostile-turned-somewhat-friendly takeover. The $183 Billion, all-share deal was the largest corporate merger in history and brought an end to months of bidding battles and bitter negotiations.

EMA Partners International adds offices: Portugal (Lisbon) | Colombia (Bogota)


2001 - EMA’s Helsinki office opens...

EMA Partners International adds an office: Finland (Helsinki)


2002 - European Union adds 10 new members...

December 2002 – The European Council marked an unprecedented and historic milestone in concluding negotiations to add 10 new members to the Union: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

EMA Partners International adds offices: Canada (Toronto & Calgary) | Russia (Moscow) | U.S.A. (Miami)


2003 - The Human Genome

Scientists have been studying our genetic make-up for since the early 1900s. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA – which are molecules made of two twisting paired strands. In 2003, scientists completed the sequence of the human genome. The discovery will aid scientists to better understand cancer and other rare genetic diseases, and allows doctors to analyze the DNA of unborn children. After eight years the Human Genome Project was completed at a cost of approximately $2.7 Billion.

EMA Partners International adds offices: India (Mumbai/ Gurgaon/ Bangalore/ Chennai) | Denmark (Copenhagen)


2006 - South African offices...

EMA Partners International adds an office: South Africa (Johannesburg/Durban)


2007-2009 - Corporate responsibility...

July 2007 – Geneva: United Nations Global Impact organization presents groundbreaking studies that show “an increasing number of business leaders see corporate responsibility as a way to compete successfully and to build trust with stakeholders.”

In 2007, EMA Partners International adds an office: Iceland (Reykjavik)

In 2008, EMA Partners International adds an office: Turkey (Ankara/Istanbul)

And in 2009, EMA Partners International adds an office: Poland (Warsaw)

The 2009 Global Meeting is held in Johannesburg – for the first time, Partners meet in Africa.


2010-2012 - Asia-Pacific Expansion...

EMA Partners International adds an office: China (Beijing/Guangzhou/Shanghai)

In 2011, EMA Partners International adds an office: Korea (Seoul)

In 2012, EMA Partners International adds offices: Japan (Tokyo) | U.S. (Miami)


2013 - Mission to Mars...

November 2013 – India successfully launches PSLV-C25, the Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft and entered into an orbit around Mars on September 24, 2014. The mission is only the fourth space agency to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars.

EMA Partners International adds an office: Australia (Melbourne/Sydney)


2014 - $22 Billion app...

In March of 2014, Facebook announces that it planned to purchase “WhatsApp” for a whopping $19 Billion. The sale was finalized in October with Facebook paying $4.59 Billion in cash and 177,760,669 in company shares – valued at $77. WhatsApp allows users to exchange messages without having to pay separately for each SMS (Short Message Service) and has approximately 450 million users.

2014 Global Meeting – São Paulo – for the first time, Partners meet in South America.