During 1981, the Chairman of the Grey Advertising Group South Africa, entrepreneur Darryl Phillips, conceived the idea of starting a high level exclusive and retained fee Executive Search Company, or 'Headhunting', Consultancy. He envisaged an entity quite distinct from the employment agencies prevalent in South Africa at the time. His objective was to add value and synergy to the Group’s advertising portfolio with Executive Search solutions to assist clients with their high level human resource needs. His Client's needs ranged from defining executive jobs and establishing competitive remuneration packages to undertaking comprehensive executive searches for the recruitment, development and performance management of Executive Team members.

Darryl Phillips travelled to London to investigate the Executive Search Companies or Headhunting market and met Clive and Dr Anna Mann, the founders of Whitehead Mann, an established London based Executive Search Company dealing in high level appointments. They introduced him to the practice of Executive Search for roles ranging from Non-Executive Director (NED) and Chairman of the Board to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the full functional Executive Management teams for major organisations. Darryl Phillips subsequently invited the Manns to visit South Africa to evaluate the local market.

Following their South African visit, the Manns concluded that the standards of Executive Search firms or Headhunting were abysmally low in South Africa. They recommended that instead of buying an existing firm in South Africa, it would be more advisable to recruit a suitable individual, train him/her in London and start a new Executive Search firm to assist South African organisations with their high level human resources needs.

After an extensive exercise to identify suitable candidates, Trevor Woodburn was selected and sent to London to “learn all about Executive Search or Headhunting”. On his return to South Africa from London he opened a small office in Rosebank, Johannesburg on 13 September 1982. The new joint venture company was named Grey Mann Associates.

After several years of successful operation, conflicts of interest arose with the Grey Advertising client companies and a decision was taken to buy out the Grey interests and to rename the company Woodburn Mann (Pty) Limited .

Since 1982 Woodburn Mann has gained credibility as a leading research based Executive Search consultancy in South Africa and the sub-Saharan African market. Their reputation has been built up by consistently assisting companies to put in place exceptional individuals who have gone on to ensured their companies’ success.

On making contact with Woodburn Mann, whether as a client, a source of information or a candidate, each person begins a long term relationship with the consultancy. Many of the successful candidates appointed to the Executive Committees, or as General Managers of Divisions of organisations, have gone on to be appointed to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer of those businesses as their careers have advanced. The Woodburn Mann team is proud of its achievements in Executive Search and watch the career progress of successful candidates with great interest, keeping in contact with them as years pass.

Woodburn Mann offers Executive Search consulting services that address the key leadership needs of organisations through the appointment, evaluation and development of world class, globally competitive executive talent and has formed a number of local and international strategic alliances which add considerable value to the company’s service offerings.

Woodburn Mann is proud of the recognition it has received as one of the most professional and respected Executive Search and Leadership Consultancies in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to having successfully placed Non-Executive Directors (NED) and the Chairmen on many JSE Securities Exchange listed and private Boards, Woodburn Mann has a proud record of appointing Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and Managing Directors (MD) as well as the first line Executives of many major organisations. The professional team of consultants and researchers at Woodburn Mann are trained and equipped to be able to apply themselves to clients' needs across functions and industries. Annually we achieve the successful appointments of Chief Operating Officers (COO); Financial Directors (FD); Sales and Marketing Directors; Human Resource Directors; Chief Information Officers (CIO); and Interim Executives, to name a few of the functional executive roles vital to organisations operating in a wide range of industries from Mining and Engineering to FMCG and Financial Services.

Woodburn Mann's client base consists of astute decision-makers in many of the world’s top ranked companies and we have a proud record and strong reputation of success as a leader in Executive Search; board review; leadership competency assessment; succession planning; and placing interim executives.