There are many roads to success.
He chose the winding one.
With master’s degrees in psycho-diagnostics and behavior development from Yeshiva University and CUNY, Don Yaeger always loved getting under the hood to find out what makes people tick. But where it led was something of a surprise. And now, after decades of moving people and organizations forward, it’s finally time for him to make another turn in the winding road.
Navigating Inner Space
It was while conducting a pioneering program in New York City schools that Don was approached by a consultant friend about helping his client in their search for a new vice president. He developed a meticulous personality profile that would guide them in the selection process. But when he discovered the company decided in favor of a recommendation from a well-paid headhunter, Don realized he was working on the wrong side of the fence.
He moved to California in the late ’70s to begin his recruiting career with a CPA placement firm, and zoomed into opportunities with Foster McKay’s LA office — led by Harry Boxer — before helping to form HYDE Group a few years later. By the late ’80s, HYDE had parted ways and Don approached the most life-changing bend in the recruiting-road yet: Harry Boxer was starting his own firm and invited Don to join him as partner and VP, along with a keen, young colleague named Ron Proul the fall of 1989, Century Group was born.
Right Place, Right Time, Right People
From a founding group of half a dozen recruiters, Century Group has grown into the largest accounting and finance search firm in LA. It’s a place where each member is encouraged to apply their own unique background and approach toward a common goal — and no two people illustrate that more than Don and Harry.
Don’s circuitous, exploratory style runs counter to the adrenaline-fueled, point-and-shoot efficiency of Harry’s approach. Yet, somehow, they consistently arrive at the same destination, with successful placements that meet clients’ immediate needs while setting them up to thrive long-term.
Century Group has weathered economic storms that other firms didn’t survive, and Don credits its CEO, Ron Proul, for transforming the company into a flourishing, forward-thinking corporation that now boasts multiple offices. Its reputation for strategic, game-changing solutions has earned Century Group recognition as the number one accounting and finance search firm by the Los Angeles Business Journal — with global corporations and other search firms regularly calling upon the firm for its industry expertise.
Don has simple plans for the future: sit back, relax and let the next generation take the wheel. At the quarter-century mark and well ahead of the pack, Century Group is just getting started.
Founder and Chairman Emeritus
He wrote the book on trading.
But the real story is all about people.
Follow your passion. Do what you love. Sounds like good advice, right? But how does it play out in real life? For Harry Boxer, it’s the thrill of the pursuit itself – whether he’s after upwardly mobile stocks or executives – that has driven him from one love to another and back again. And the story isn’t over yet.
Chasing the Deal
For a bright, young go-getter in 1960s New Jersey, nothing could match the glamour and excitement of Wall Street during its “go-go years.” And with his first major score as a teenage trader, Harry Boxer was smitten. He continued investing throughout college, where he began fine-tuning his technical analysis skills while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Soon, seasoned brokers were taking note of Harry’s prodigious understanding of stock trends and winning trading techniques, and by the early ’70s, he had landed his dream job as a broker on Wall Street.
For Harry, there was nothing like being in the center of the action. But in 1974, with the market collapsing around him, he knew he would have to find that rush elsewhere. He began making the rounds to search firms hoping to find work as an analyst. With nothing available, but impressed by Harry’s energy, intellect and chutzpah, every one of those firms offered him a position as a recruiter.
New Jersey-based Foster McKay finally won him over and he wasted no time becoming their top producer. After a trip to visit a friend in LA in the middle of winter, Harry fell in love with the sunny Southern California weather and lifestyle. In a matter of months, he had FosterMcKay’s LA office up and running strong, and after a few years, he accepted an offer from a prominent west coast staffing firm to do the same for their new executive search division.
But by 1989, Harry was craving the freedom to run his own firm, according to his own vision. And recruiters whose talents he had spotted and tapped in the past were lining up to join him. Among them: Don Yaeger, who had worked for Harry at Foster McKay and would become his partner and Executive VP, and Ron Proul, whose rise through the ranks would take him from recruiter trainee to CEO. The firm would be called Century Group. And it would mark the start of a new era in executive recruitment.
The More Things Change…
In those heady, early days, Century Group didn’t need next-gen technology or corporate backing… it had more than enough raw collective energy, talent and ambition to catapult it to the next level. But automation certainly helped streamline the process. With each successive shift – from manual screening to computers, word-of-mouth to internet searches and social media – productivity has skyrocketed. And with it, Century Group’s reach and reputation have also grown exponentially.
In 2003, the firm expanded its offerings to include Interim and Project Services, and in 2007, they became co-founders of the CFO of the Year Awards in Los Angeles and Orange County, honoring the same breed of top performers that are their stock-in-trade. Today, with a database of over 85,000, Century Group has conducted more than 15,000 search and interim assignments in the last decade alone, while consistently ranking in the top five. In fact, they were recently named the number one accounting and finance search firm in the LA area by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Yet, through all the changes, there has been one constant: people. Quite possibly, Harry’s greatest achievement is that he has been able to bring together – and keep together – so many talented people for so many years. He proudly notes that there are no egos at Century Group: just smart, insightful, gifted individuals who not only share the same goals, they very often share the same deals.
With such a collaborative, supportive work environment, it’s no wonder that so many Century Group staffers have been with the company for over a decade. It is a testament to Harry’s uncanny aptitude for spotting the right people and putting them in the perfect position to achieve their full potential. Though perhaps it’s not all that uncanny when you consider that he has conducted over 20,000 interviews in his career, affording him the same kind of sixth sense that he developed as a trader, consistently recognizing which stocks – or people, as the case may be – are on their way up and making the right move at precisely the right moment.
These are the gifts that have propelled Harry throughout his career, whether as a trader, recruiter or president of his own firm. But they have also served as the foundation upon which Century Group continues to build. So even now, with Harry’s investment work and website (thetechtrader.com) demanding more attention – and more workshops, seminars and books in the works – he remains active on the firm’s Board of Directors and as its chief advisor. From there, he can look proudly upon what he has created, secure in the knowledge that he has the right people in place to take the company farther, faster than he ever could have alone. It is, by far, the biggest win in a career chock full of them. Yet the pursuit of greatness – for Harry and for Century Group – goes on.