Contributing After Retirement

Louis L. TestoniLou_Testoni
Senior Executive and Board Member

Contributing after Retirement

Louis L. Testoni came to Pricewaterhousecoopers in 1999 after a successful 26 year career with Coopers & Lybrand, as a result of the two major accounting and financial advisory firm’s merger. He completed his career as the Managing Partner of a $200M practice in the Lake Erie region for PwC. The region included offices in Pittsburgh and Cleveland as well as Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y.

As 2010 approached, Lou decided to seek an alternative approach to a more traditional retirement by seeking corporate board positions in the energy, mining, manufacturing and technology sectors. Having already served on various boards during his career, he knew this was a good way to leverage his talents in a more advisory capacity, while contributing to a company’s bottom line and overall vision.

In his quest to find the right board positions, Lou initially contacted more traditional search firms. He quickly determined they were structured to serve corporate clients and lacked the skill set necessary to help individuals seeking a new role. Lou continued networking as he knew that would be important to his search.

It was in September 2010 that a business leader in the Pittsburgh area made a mutual introduction between Lou and Melissa Henderson, President and CEO of Summit Executive Resources. Lou was delighted to learn that Summit had turned the traditional search model upside down and represented individuals looking for their next position rather than a corporate client seeking to fill a slot. This atypical model is often misunderstood, but Lou knew this was exactly the kind of personal service he had been seeking.

Identifying Opportunities

Lou retained Summit two months later to locate opportunities where he could serve as a board member of a $300M - $2B mid-cap firm. Summit faced the challenges of the market being unfamiliar with its model as well as being unfamiliar with their candidate. Using their proprietary system, networking skills and sheer tenacity, Summit assessed realistic targets with Lou and marketed on his behalf. Summit’s hard work paid off and Lou landed not one, but two board positions in the Pittsburgh area.

Through Summit, Lou initially joined the board of ABARTA Inc., a private holding company in Pittsburgh with four main subsidiaries in the beverage, publishing, oil and gas, and food industries. A year later, Summit placed Lou on the board of Koppers Holdings Inc., an international company and a leading integrated producer of chemicals, carbon compounds and treated wood products for the aluminum, railroad, specialty chemical, utilities, rubber and steel industries.

Value Proposition

Summit’s reference validation was crucial to the success of Lou’s engagement. Summit assembles reference validations, focusing on the client’s skills and competencies relevant to their goals and other factors, including fit within a given firm’s corporate culture. These references encompass former colleagues, subordinates and superiors who know the client well. Having this in place made a huge difference to Koppers, as it saved them time and money and streamlined the process of appointing Lou to their board.

Full Circle

By engaging Summit for his search, Lou had the time to leverage other opportunities and independently joined the board of several more Pittsburgh area companies and institutions. Among them: Henderson Brothers, an independent insurance agency; Heyl & Patterson Inc., a private design and construction firm; the Three Rivers Chapter of National Association of Corporate Directors, an organization to which Lou has belonged since 2010; and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh where he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In his spare time, Lou also mentors students at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

With Summit’s help, Lou was able to realize his vision of giving back after retirement by contributing on both a corporate and personal level. His engagement was such a success, he continues to keep Summit on retainer for future board positions!