Welcome to HBAL.
Common sense in an uncertain world

Global. Strategic. Personal

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A little bit about us

Founded in 2006, we specialise in strategic marketing, digital and creative leadership searches.

The business is run by its two partners and you will see from our respective biographies the depth of our collective experience. What excites us is not our past though, but the thrilling unpredictability of our future. Transformation, diversity, flexibility and fresh thinking have never been more important.

Being distinct in a commoditised market comes from being true to our personalities and beliefs. You will get a sense of this from our articles and think pieces. You’ll get even more from a chat in person.

In the meantime, here are some of the things which we think make a difference.

The partners run every aspect of each assignment and consultancy project directly.

We are global in out-look and capability, with extensive experience in the US and Asia in addition to Europe.

We look for Fluid Talent for today’s turbulent world. Traditional structures and titles are increasingly obsolete. You must look forward and come up with a solution that is different or unexpected.

We build long-term relationships with our candidates and try to help manage careers. In turn, this means more refined and knowledge-based shortlists for our clients.

We provide formal and informal consultancy services from diversity audits, CEO mentoring, talent mapping to building internal recruitment teams, salary surveys and benchmarking and board evaluation.

We aim to be user-friendly and efficient without the burden of bureaucracy. A good sense of humour can come in handy too!

We believe in creating relationships that are value-enhancing for our clients and our candidates. Here’s how:

Going Further

We don’t just complete searches, we advise the leaders of some of the most creative and ambitious organisations globally on a variety of talent related challenges.

Competitive Fees

We work on the basis of a fixed fee to avoid the self-interest of commission. We are lean and efficient, without back-office overhead of traditional firms.

The Partners

Hannah Brown

After graduating from Oxford in 1988 with a degree in PPE, Hannah spent a couple of years as a political researcher before becoming a Management Consultant at Prime Strategy Consultants specialising in outsourcing and market testing.

She joined the Marketing Services Search firm Kendall Tarrant in 1994, becoming MD in 1996 and led the UK management team that floated the company, growing the business both internationally and by sector. She was the youngest member of the PLC Board.

In 2006 she set up HBAL, focussing on senior retained assignments globally.
Hannah was a non-executive Director of the Research and Insights consultancy Sparkler, helping to oversee its sale in 2018 to PA Consulting. She is on the board of AAR, the leading global advertising intermediary and has extensive experience across various charity boards.

> Email Hannah

Adam Leigh

Adam graduated from Cambridge in 1987 and joined Ogilvy & Mather as a Graduate Trainee, rising to becoming the youngest Account Director and Board Director as well as a Campaign ‘Face to Watch.’ In 1994 he became Business Development Director for the London agency.

In 1996 he joined Bates UK, the third largest UK agency, becoming Deputy Managing Director two years later. In 2000 he joined Euro RSCG (now Havas UK) as Managing Director.

In 2005 he became CEO of The Communications Agency, an independent and integrated agency. Over the next 9 years, the business quadrupled in size with clients including RBS, American Express and Argos. In 2014 Adam led its sale to Communisis PLC.

Adam is a Non-Executive Director of Oliver Sweeney, the fashion brand . He has sat on the board of various charities including World Jewish Relief, Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice and the Anne Frank Trust.

His first novel “The Curious Rise of Alex Lazarus ” was published in May 2021 and is the comic tale of an imaginary start-up and the impact of success on its ambitious founders.

> Email Adam

What we do


We conduct end-to-end searches for senior leadership roles in creatively focussed businesses. The roles tend to focus on Marketing, Digital, Comms specialities or backgrounds.

Each search is based on a bespoke process which we will agree with our clients. It may include any or all of these stages:

  • Talent mapping
  • Long-listing screening
  • Short-list interviewing
  • Interview guidelines
  • Candidate feedback
  • Benchmarking and evaluation
  • Second-stage selection process development and co-ordination (eg candidate presentations, psychometric evaluation)
  • Contract negotiation
  • Reference checking and reporting
  • KPI and Performance metric setting
  • VISA and work permit oversight


We work on a range of bespoke services, each tailored to fit specific client requirements.

  • Talent Mapping
  • Diversity Audit
  • Salary Surveys and Benchmarking
  • Succession Planning and Talent Pipelines
  • Internal Recruitment Team building and process development
  • CEO & Director Mentoring
  • Board Appraisals
  • Scenario Planning
  • Team building
  • Exit interviews and Out Placement

Our Clients

Recent searches for the brands below have included:

Chief Digital Officer
Editor in Chief
EVP Strategic Planning and Insights
Global Brand Director
VP Business Development
Customer Experience Director
Director of Interaction Design
Retail Design Director

What our clients say

We asked some of our most loyal client partners to describe the experience of working with us.

“HBAL have worked on our most senior hires and consultancy projects since 2013. Their depth of knowledge, responsiveness and wisdom is unparalleled. They are a joy to work with.”

Nicola Mendelsohn – VP EMEA Facebook

“Having worked with HBAL for many years, we are so grateful for their ability to listen and really understand what we need. They spend the time to analyse our needs and ask the right questions so that we are always getting the best, most qualified candidates. The depth of experience they have accumulated over the years has made them so valuable in how they approach every search.”

Jennifer Lotito – President (RED)

“HBAL are extremely professional, with a wonderful depth of common sense and wisdom. Their intelligence and experience make them uniquely suited to bring fresh-thinking to any challenge.”

Jenny Phillips – Group MD The Blair Partnership

“I have worked with HBAL for over 15 years. They are strategic, wise and extremely well-connected. If you are looking for something different, some fresh thinking, or being served something other than the usual names and profiles – you will find no better source of inspiration than HBAL.”

Walter Susini, SVP Marketing EMEA, The Coca-Cola Company

Doing Better & Doing More

At HBAL, we deplore the racism that blights our global society and creates incalculable suffering. We therefore commit:

  1. To do better in understanding the challenges and racial prejudices that prevent equality of opportunity
  2. To do more with our clients to ensure that diversity of opportunity is a reality not an aspiration
  3. To do better at championing black voices in senior management and board positions
  4. To do more to create metrics which measure the impact of change
  5. To do better at enabling young talent to overcome prejudice to ensure a career path built on fairness not struggle.

Our Thinking

To discuss any of the articles in here further, please get in touch. Equally, feel free to share them.
All publicity, gladly received.

And the winner is...

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An updated ‘Ode to Autumn’ and why we should all look forward not back

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Why William Pitt the Younger sets a bad example for the youth of today

How a bit of classical philosophy can help your business?

Nostradamus and the danger of bad predictions

When ignoring medical advice can be a good thing.....

I don't like you...

Arise Sir Andy (hip permitting) …

Well at least we got to the World Cup Semis...

Have we lost our sense of humour in the office?

Why watching Theresa May's attempted dance reminds us to learn a few new moves

Running tips from a bald middle-aged bloke

ABBA and the benefits of a good holiday

Why Elise Christie’s
ice-disaster can make us more resilient

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