Nels Olson

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Nels Olson
OccupationExecutive recruiter, Korn Ferry
Years active1993–present

Nels Olson is Co-Leader and Vice Chairman of the Board and CEO Services Practice with Tierney Remick[1] at Korn Ferry International . He has been appointed to the NACD 2018 and 2009 Directorship 100[2] and participated in more than 350 placements.[3] Recent CEO and Board placements include the Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell;[4] Boston Federal Reserve, NFIB, PhRMA, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, NewsCorp and Pepco Holdings.


Olson served on the staff of the White House under George HW Bush from 1989-1992 in the Office of Presidential Personnel. His primary position was to identify and recommend candidates for senior political positions in cabinet agencies. He was also responsible for the political clearance for all presidential appointees.[5]

He then joined Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., a DC based public relations firm and eventually joined Korn Ferry, where he was initially tasked with helping former government officials find placement in the private sector: "Olson helped link one of the hottest legislative talents, ex-House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.), with Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and helped get Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) former chief of staff, Mitch Bainwol, to the Recording Industry Association of America."[6]

Olson has gone on to lead the CEO Practice at [Korn Ferry]. While in this role he has commented on the intersection of government and corporate leadership in publications such as the New York Times,[7] National Associate of Corporate Directors (NACD),[8] and The Korn Ferry Institute.[9]

Leadership commentary[edit]

Olson often provides commentary on Boardroom level leadership including topics such as:

• Why the CEO Is the Other Chief Diversity Officer (Chief[10] • Another View: Why C.E.O.’s Need to Engage Washington (New York Times Online) [7] • Boards Must Look to the Future with a Thoughtful Succession Plan to Lead and Win (NACD Directorship)[11] • The Mosaic that is the Modern Boardroom (Korn Ferry Institute)[12]

Notable placements[edit]

Nels Olson works with the world’s largest organizations to place CEO’s and Board Members. Select placements include:


  • Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell
  • President and Chief Executive Officer of FINRA, Robert W. Cook[13]
  • CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, William Dudley[14]
  • CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Patrick Harker[15]
  • CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Eric Rosengren[16]

Board Directors[edit]

  • American International Group [14]
  • GMAC
  • The Carlyle Group
  • Lockheed Martin
  • NewsCorp
  • The Travelers Companies
  • Tyco Electronics
  • Tyco International
  • ING Direct


Olson received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York at Oswego in 1989. He then attended George Washington University where he obtained his Masters in Business Administration in 2000. Not to be confused with Dr. Nels A. Olson.[17]

Charity and board involvement[edit]

Nels Olson is a board member of the Wolf Trap Foundation,[18] which takes "a valuable leadership role in both the local and national performing arts communities."[19] He is also on the board of the Starlight-Starbright Foundation, which brings together experts from pediatric health care, technology and entertainment to create programs that educate, entertain and inspire seriously ill children.[20]


  1. ^ "Tierney Remick - Consultant".
  2. ^ "NACD Directorship 100 Gala". Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  3. ^ "NACD Directorship Magazine - NACD Directorship Magazine".
  4. ^ Samuelson, Ruth; Van Dyne, Larry; Jaffe, Harry; Graff, Garrett M.; Bratcher, Drew; Lindsay, Drew. "Hidden Power: Ten people you may not know about who can change your life". Archived from the original on 2007-10-28.
  5. ^ Korn Ferry International
  6. ^ The Hill, We Know Who The Good People Are
  7. ^ a b "Another View: Why C.E.O.'s Need to Engage Washington". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  8. ^ "Nels B. Olson". Meridian International Center.
  9. ^ "How Can the Next President Build a Great Team?: 4 Tips from the Corporate Sector". Korn Ferry Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  10. ^ "Why the CEO Is the Other Chief Diversity Officer". Chief Executive. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Boards Must Look to the Future with a Thoughtful Succession Plan to Lead and Win". NACD. June 3, 2015.
  12. ^ "The Mosaic That Is the Modern Boardroom". Korn Ferry Institute. November 2, 2015.
  13. ^ "Korn Ferry's Board & CEO Services Practice Led FINRA CEO Placement". BusinessWire. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Korn/Ferry International appoint new President of Federal Reserve". Recruitment Grapevine.
  15. ^ "Federal Reserve Bank Of Richmond Taps Heidrick For CEO". Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  16. ^ "Nels B. Olson". Meridian International.
  17. ^ Business Week, World's Most Influential Head-Hunters
  18. ^ Wolf Trap Foundation Board
  19. ^ Learn About the Wolf Trap Foundation
  20. ^ Starlight Foundation

External links[edit]