Ferguson – COO






Human Capital Advisory Leader for Real Assets sector

We partner with C-suite executives and Boards in large-scale real estate and infrastructure firms to provide Human Capital Solutions:

  • Executive Search
  • Executive Compensation Consulting
  • Management Consulting
  • Leadership Consulting

The firm is at the front-end of a growth phase focused on geographic and product expansion.



Work that matters in a way that people care about it

  • Our teams work directly with senior executives, board members, owners, and stakeholders of businesses.
  • Our consulting advice and success in executive placements have directly reshaped and positively impacted growth and retention for our clients.
  • As a specialist consulting firm, we dive deeper with our clients and provide a wider range of solutions than generalist firms.



Things we deeply care about

  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Client focused
  • Intellectual Curiosity & Problem Solving
  • Self-Motivation, Flexibility & Adaptability
  • Meritocracy

Job Description

COO Role Description


Ferguson Partners is a 30+ year-old global firm that specializes in Human Capital Advisory for the real assets sector with four main business units; Executive and Board Recruitment, Leadership Consulting, Compensation Consulting, and Management Consulting.  Headquartered in Chicago, the firm has offices in Charlotte, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto.


We are looking to add a new position of Chief Operating Officer to manage the day-to-day operations of the global firm.  Directly reporting to the CEO and with substantial involvement with Executive Committee members, the COO will lead operations, finance, accounting, legal, IT, Marketing, HR, and research/data analytics.  Some specific responsibilities include:

  • Geographic and product line expansion – Ferguson is at a unique time in their evolution as they have great reputation, strong financial management, competent leaders, and a desire/commitment to grow. The company recently transitioned to being employee-owned, which has generated excitement and momentum to expand the platform.
  • Unification of One-Team approach – the entrepreneurial nature of the firm, while positive in many regards, has created the need to better integrate offerings and to improve the positioning as One Firm, One Solution for Human Capital needs within the real assets sector.
  • Streamline & Continuously Improve internal processes and platforms – current opportunities exist within HR, Marketing, Technology and Analytics to significantly improve the impact of those functional areas.
  • Investment Prioritization – With so many areas to improve both internally and externally, the CEO will need strong counsel prioritizing those investments that best serve the company at any given time.

Of course, the above only represents a few of the current and pressing issues.  The COO should be prepared to assume a broader set of responsibilities that are typically associated with the role (e.g. assist the CEO with strategic planning, overseeing the firm’s physical facilities, leading budgeting/forecasting/profitability/financial reporting, developing dashboards and metrics to drive decision-making and risk mitigation, helping HR build world-class recruiting and retention programs, driving IT initiatives that have an impact across the platform, etc.).  This role will be the trusted partner to the CEO and will ultimately help to build and improve the critical aspects of the business.


Our ideal executive has successfully run an organization and is deeply experienced in strategy, continuous improvement and implementing new programs.  We believe the top candidates have a clear and strong track record in addressing the following questions – 1) Can you demonstrate business experiences, capabilities and results that relate to the above responsibilities 2) Are you matter-of-factly an effective leader who possesses the highest level of integrity, communication skills and humility and 3) do you possess the drive to take Ferguson Partners to the next level.  The executive who aligns well against these questions will have an opportunity to significantly shape, grow and lead Ferguson Partners into their next stage of the growth.

Ferguson Partners is an equal opportunity employer that celebrates diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.



Market share in advising REIT Boards on Executive and Board-related pay matters




Global Locations


Projects Completed per year: 250+ in search, 200+ in executive compensation.

The Team

Bill Ferguson

Bill Ferguson


More details on Bill

William J. Ferguson serves as Chairman and CEO of Ferguson Partners.   Before founding Ferguson Partners, Mr. Ferguson was a Managing Director with one of the leading international executive recruiting consultants. There, he co-managed the firm’s national real estate practice. Prior to focusing on real estate, Mr. Ferguson worked for General Mills, Inc. in Minneapolis in strategic marketing.

Mr. Ferguson holds a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an MBA in marketing from the Wharton Graduate School of Business.

Gemma Burgess

Gemma Burgess


More details on Gemma

Gemma Burgess has over 15 years of executive and non-executive search experience and leads Ferguson Partners’ search business globally, based in the firm’s New York office. She spends the majority of her time working with Private Equity, Investment Management, Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), Structured Finance, Hedge Fund and Investment Banking clients. In addition, Gemma is actively involved in Ferguson Partners’ Board practice.

A huge advocate for diversity across the industry, Gemma has consistently placed gender-diverse candidates at a rate of 50 percent – no easy task within an industry that was slow to take on the initiative! A regular speaker and writer on the topic, she is now turning her attentions to the ethnic diversity challenge.

Relocated from the London office more than six years ago, Gemma possesses a deep understanding of the international markets and the global flow of both institutional and non-institutional capital in the real estate industry. Prior to joining Ferguson Partners in 2007, Gemma spent two years at Hanson Green working on non-executive appointments and two years at Ramsey Hall working as a generalist within executive search. When she’s not working with clients, Gemma enjoys traveling and watching her son play soccer.

Jeremy Banoff

Jeremy Banoff

Vice Chairman

More details on Jeremy

Mr. Banoff is Vice Chairman of Ferguson Partners, based in the firm’s Chicago office. As co-leader of the firm’s Compensation Consulting group, Mr. Banoff designs compensation programs that drive business strategies and create value for shareholders. He partners with Compensation Committees and executive management to implement effective and strategic compensation plans, conducts organizational and broad-based benchmarking, negotiates and structures employment agreements/severance policies, advises on key transactional related matters across IPOs and internalizations, and consults on a variety of corporate governance-related matters. Over the course of his career, Mr. Banoff has completed more than 1,000 client assignments across various compensation matters focused within all facets of the real estate industry.

After joining Ferguson Partners in 2002, Mr. Banoff built an extensive profile of clients that encompasses both the leading market share of public REITs and, separately, a variety of private real estate companies. He has overseen the firm’s survey team and the two largest real estate compensation surveys that Ferguson Partners conducts each year, partnering with both NAREIT® and REALPAC. Mr. Banoff frequently provides expert commentary for media outlets and research publications; in the past, he has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, Commercial Property Executive, National Real Estate Investor and the S&P Global, among others.

Mr. Banoff earned his Bachelor’s degree in Finance with honors from the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business. He is also a member of WorldatWork and the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP). In his limited free time, Mr. Banoff enjoys outdoor running, playing drums, coaching baseball, traveling, spending time with his family and, last but not least, a nice glass of Cabernet!

Paul Carey

Paul Carey


More details on Paul

Mr. Carey is responsible for overseeing the financial and accounting operations of Ferguson Partners. He works with the company’s senior executives to budget, track and analyze the company’s financial performance. He has substantial experience in corporate budgeting, finance, analysis and performance measurement.

Prior to joining Ferguson Partners, Mr. Carey served as a Manager of Financial Reporting at Trizec Properties, Inc. and as a Supervising Senior Auditor with the Real Estate practice at KPMG, LLP. At Trizec, Mr. Carey oversaw the accounting and reporting for the company’s Washington D.C. portfolio, comprised of office buildings totaling 4.9 million square feet. At KPMG, Mr. Carey orchestrated and oversaw the audits of various real estate clients including General Growth Properties, Urban Shopping Centers, Cadillac Fairview U.S., and JMB Realty Corporation. In addition to audits, Mr. Carey has had experience in the areas of acquisitions, dispositions, liquidations, development and construction project reviews, process reviews, due diligence, defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, and health and welfare plans.

Mr. Carey received a B.S. in Accounting from Indiana University. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and member of the Illinois CPA Society. In his free time, Mr. Carey enjoys concerts, cooking, camping and spending time with friends and family.

Erin Green

Erin Green

MD - Management Consulting & Compensation

More details on Erin

Erin is a Managing Director and head of the Management Consulting group within Ferguson Partners, based in the firm’s Chicago office. In this role, she is responsible for leading client engagements related to organizational structure and design, generational transitions and ownership transfers, governance structures, strategic planning, and specialized research, among others. In her time at Ferguson Partners, Erin has worked on hundreds of engagements with clients ranging from large, institutionally owned firms to regional, family-owned firms to private partnerships. Her focus is on partnering with her clients to solve the critical business issues hindering performance and driving positive outcomes for the future.

Prior to joining Ferguson Partners, Erin worked at Berry Global, Inc., where she was responsible for new business development and managing relationships with corporate clients.

Erin earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Michigan State University. When she’s not working, Erin enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Jay Venzon

Jay Venzon

General Counsel & CAO

More details on Jay

Jay Venzon is responsible for overseeing the legal affairs of Ferguson Partners, including contract negotiation, strategic counseling, litigation management, corporate policy creation and all forms of legal risk management. Mr. Venzon also manages human resources, information technology, corporate insurance and employee benefits matters for the firm.

Prior to joining Ferguson Partners, Mr. Venzon was a partner in the Real Estate Department of the Chicago office of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where he counseled clients on a wide range of real estate transactions including acquisitions, dispositions, financings and joint ventures.

Mr. Venzon received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, and his Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in Economics from Harvard University. In his free time, he enjoys doing The New York Times crossword puzzle, baking and playing the cello.


Why Ferguson, Why Now?

The COO is a new position at Ferguson, created due to Bill Ferguson transitioning into a Chairman role and Gemma Burgess assuming the CEO role.  Gemma will continue working on Board and Executive level searches on a part-time basis, so the COO becomes critcal to ensuring executive oversight at all times.

Given Gemma’s split responsibilities, she is looking for a colleague who can quickly build credibility throughout the environment, and work as her partner in driving change throughout the business.

While the company hjas been very successful, there is real and interesting potential to scale the environment.  The COO will play a significant role in growing the platform.


What Is Ferguson's Brand Recognition?

The firm is highly recognized by the top companies and maintains the largest market share of publicly-traded REITs including S&P 500 companies. This reputation gives the team direct access to the top executives and board members within the real assets sector. Given the quality and breadth of services, Ferguson operates as a trusted advisor to clients in up markets and down markets. Accordingly, the business does not take a material hit during economic downturns – instead the nature of the projects change.

What is Gemma's style/personality?

Gemma seems authentic when she describes herself as transparent and an open communicator.  She is friendly, engaging and genuinely appears interested in helping others achieve success.

Gemma tends to accept people at their word.  If someone replies that they are doing fine, Gemma assumes the individual is being sincere.  So straightforward communication seems to work best with her.

Gemma prefers “executive summary” vs. the extended narrative.  That is not to suggest that she is unable to dig deep or have long, meaningful exchanges.  It simply points to her being efficient and succinct when the situation calls for it.

How integrated are the lines of business?

There is a need to transition the firm from many books of business to a unified corporation.  The One-Team approach requires breaking down barriers and showing individual lines of business how they can achieve greater success by being highly integrated.  This is no small task and requires the right type of leader to manage this change.

At face value, the teams appear prepared to on-board the One-Team approach.  But there is lots of complexity and competing interests, which create headwinds for the initiative.  But achieving success in the integration is one avenue for generating significant growth at Ferguson.  

Interview Process


Discuss opportunity with Olympia


Olympia screen, resume/salary review


Exploratory meeting(s) with CEO


Interviews with Leadership Team


Strategy Presentation & Hogan Assessment


Final Interview with CEO

What you can expect from Oympia:

  1. Directness – We will provide candid feedback on your background, skills, and alignment of objectives against the opportunity.
  2. Professionalism – We will keep to any commitments we make to you. Let’s hold each other to the highest standard of professionalism.
  3. Honesty – We will tell you if you are not a fit and we will share whatever information we can regarding your candidacy.


Dan Gathof dgathof@olympiasolutionsinc.com

Schedule time to talk

Let’s explore if this role fits your career goals.