Meet the Member, Michel Buffet, Senior Client Partner

Member news | January 13, 2020

Defining the organization of your team, the various departments and the contours of staff roles, is a determining factor of future success. Unnecessary overlap or gaps in your staffing can lead to frustration, delays in project delivery or a loss of competitive advantage. 

In November 2019, Korn Ferry marked 50 years of enabling people and organizations to exceed their potential. As a Senior Client Partner, Michel works with his clients to fully understand their unique situations, needs and propose actionable plans to "close the gap" in organizations experiencing growth or transformation. Keep reading to learn more about his unique approach and what he hopes to gain from his FACC membership in 2020.


FACC: As a Senior Client Partner, can you elaborate upon your approach to building a relationship of trust with those you advise and identifying solutions that are respectful of their business culture, while also pushing the envelope to propel their transformation?

MB: A relationship of trust is paramount. We build it over time, by demonstrating to our clients that we care about their purpose, that we understand their challenges, and that our talent and solutions have a rock-solid track record of delivering sustainable value. Ultimately, the true measure of trust lies in the longevity of our client relationships. Just like in a marriage, you want a partner who is at your side at each step of the way, offering respectful, fit-for-purpose support while challenging appropriately in service of growth and transformation. One of my favorite stories to illustrate this is the work we have done with Barilla to transform their culture to foster greater diversity and inclusion, in alignment with their core purpose.

FACC: What has been the most rewarding project you have worked on to date? Why so?

MB: Recently, I was fortunate to advise the board of a large retail business on their cultural transformation efforts. The board recognized early on that their organization’s leaders would need to drive a new set of norms and values to increase the business’ customer-centricity and innovation. We engaged a broad array of organizational members in the diagnostic process and made recommendations that led the board to make significant changes to advance their agenda. Throughout the engagement, we kept close to key decision makers to maintain the momentum and proactively address issues along the way. For me, the most rewarding aspect of the project has been seeing tangible, meaningful change happen for both the organization and its individual members.

FACC: Is there anything that distinguishes Korn Ferry’s approach, in comparison to other “Big 5” firms?

MB: Our history accounts for much of what sets up apart from the Big 5. Historically, the core business of these global firms was the provision of compliance-based services: namely, accounting, auditing and taxation. Although they have added a diverse range of corporate consulting services, their core services remain central to their strategy. In contrast, Korn Ferry placed talent and strategy at the core of its purpose and mission. Although we are a different firm than we were even 10 years ago, we continue to be the organizational consultancy that helps companies look at talent and strategy together, ensuring that they have the right people in the right places and are providing them with the right rewards. We also bring their strategies to life by helping them design their organizational structure. We help them hire, motivate, and retain the best talent. Our purpose is to enable people and organizations to exceed their potential – to be more than they thought possible.

FACC: As a French professional with extensive experience in the U.S., how do you believe you are uniquely positioned to advise either international businesses or professionals?

MB: My own experience as a transnational professional has equipped me with perspective and empathy, which help me establish credibility with global organizations and leaders. I started my consulting career running cultural orientation sessions for American executives and their families about to move to France on overseas assignments. Since then, I have been a coach to dozens of French expatriates in North America and a consultant to several North American business units of global French organizations. Through these experiences, I have learned that what separates high performing organizations from others is an ability to frame cultural diversity as a strategic advantage, and a commitment to understanding and engaging culturally diverse talent.

FACC: In workforce management, including talent acquisition and leadership management, are there shifts in perspective or trends that you are observing evolve?

Much like the business environment, workforce management is constantly evolving. New talent priorities are rising to the top of our clients’ agendas as new technologies, economic trends, and demographic shifts are reshaping markets. With our large global footprint spanning 53 countries, and our partnership with 98% of FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired Companies, we have a unique global perspective on the current and future talent needs of organizations, industry by industry. I would highlight a few specifically for FACC members:

  • Digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence are shaping the future of work and leadership at an increasing pace.
  • Organizations are increasing their spending on diversity and inclusion, well beyond talent acquisition and training programs.
  • Rising industry consolidation through M&As is putting engagement and retention challenges front and center.

FACC: What do you hope to gain from your FACC-NY membership in 2020?

I always look forward to meeting other members of the chamber, to exchange information and explore partnerships. I have attended many events in the past and have always found them to be fun and productive.    

Interested in connecting with Michel? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send him a message.