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Charles Tribbett

Executive recruiter Charles Tribbett III was born on October 25, 1955, in Alexandria, Louisiana, to Charles Tribbett, Jr. and Dorris Morris Tribbett. Raised in the Chatham and Pill Hill neighborhoods of Chicago, Illinois, Tribbett attended Neil Elementary School, St. Dorothy’s Catholic School, and graduated from Mendel Catholic High School in 1973. He received his B.S. degree in political science from Marquette University in 1977 and his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 1980.

Starting his career as a securities attorney, Tribbett worked for Reid and Priest; Mayer, Brown, and Platt; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. Tribbett became a partner at Abraham and Sons, a Chicago-based brokerage and investment management group, before joining the executive search firm of Russell Reynolds Associates in 1989. He is now co-leader of the firm’s CEO and Board Services Practice, specializing in CEOs, boards of directors, and diversity assignments.

A former chairman of the board for Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, in 2005 Tribbett was elected to the board of directors for the Northern Trust Company. Fortune magazine named Tribbett one of the 50 most powerful African American executives.

Charles and his wife Lisa reside in Chicago and have 3 adult children.

Tribbett was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 21, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.073

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/21/2005

Last Name

Tribbett

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Mendel Catholic Preparatory High School

Jane A. Neil Elementary School

St. Dorothy School

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Alexandria

HM ID

TRI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kenya

Favorite Quote

Never give up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/25/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Executive recruiter Charles Tribbett (1955 - ) was named by Fortune magazine as one of the fifty most powerful African American executives in America. Tribbett has served as the co-leader Russell Reynolds Associates' CEO and Board Services Practice, specializing in CEOs, boards of directors, and diversity assignments.

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Tribbett interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Tribbett's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Tribbett talks about his ancestors on his mother's side

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Tribbett describes his mother's upbringing and background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Tribbett discusses his father and his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Tribbett recounts his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Tribbett recollects growing up in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Tribbett discusses his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Tribbett gives additional details about his church and its pastor Ken Smith

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Tribbett talks about his exposure to music and television while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Tribbett details his elementary and high school education experience

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Tribbett discusses his experience at Marquette University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Tribbett recounts his experience at University of Virginia School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Tribbett talks about his early career after law school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - CharlesTribbett discusses his law career through 1989 after returning to Chicago in 1983

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - CharlesTribbett recounts his affiliation with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington in the1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Tribbett details his work with community service organizations in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Tribbett discusses his career with Russell Reynolds Associates

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Tribbett talks about his book on leadership traits

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles Tribbet outlines changes in leadership traits from the past and present

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - CharlesTribbett talks about his philosophy of leadership and teambuilding

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Tribbett shares his opinions on diversity in business today

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Tribbett relates his experiences searching for CEOs and finding Kweisi Mfume for the NAACP

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Tribbett shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Tribbett reflects on the trajectory of his career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - CharlesTribbett conveys his notion of a legacy through his career and his family life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Tribbett discusses the nature of his job, executive search

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Tribbett considers how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Charles Tribbett recollects growing up in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago's South Side
Charles Tribbett discusses the nature of his job, executive search
Transcript
You grew up on the South Side of Chicago, what neighborhood did you grow up in?$$I grew up in Chatham.$$Okay, now, Chatham has a reputation of being one of the cleanest, safest--in those days, the place where even people like Ernie Banks lived--.$$Mahalia Jackson, Ernie Banks, we were very fortunate because we lived in a very nice neighborhood. It was very safe. And as I said, we went to school there. I grew up there. And I loved the area. And today, most of the African Americans that, that lived in that area are still in the Chicago area. We all went to parties together. We all saw each other at churches together, and, and it was a great area.$$Okay.$$And it still is. It still has survived.$$What are some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$Well, the sights for me, really were, were really on the South Side of Chicago, looking at, at schools like Kennedy-King [College, Chicago, Illinois] grow, you know, being built and looking at, back then, the, the best schools, if you didn't have a, the money to go to the private schools was to go to the Catholic schools. And we went to some of those Catholic schools, and, and it was a good education and participating on, in little league and, and, you know, in that area, in the Chatham area, it started off as a white area and gradually became a black area, so that, so I grew up in an area that became almost exclusively black. And most of the individuals in that area were like my father [Charles Tribbett, Jr.]. They were either dentists, they were doctors or they were lawyers, and they all knew each other. And so I grew up among that group. And back then, whites didn't really socialize a lot with blacks. So blacks formed their own social organizations, and there were--these organizations were called the Assembly, the, the Druids, the Snakes, they were all different organizations, but it was exclusively for blacks. And that was their way of getting to know each other better, to, to meet and, and have dinner together and to have to Christmas parties together and to bring spouses together, and, of course, to bring children together. And, and those are the memories that I have and being part of a family where you get to meet other families that are black, that are going to the same schools, that are living in the same neighborhood, and none of them lived on the South side, none of them lived on--I'm sorry--none of them lived on the North Side. They didn't live on the West Side. They were all concentrated somewhere between the Chatham area, which is around 83rd [Street] and Calumet [Avenue], almost going all the way over east, almost to the Lake [Michigan].$The last question we have is similar to legacy--is there anything else we should talk about before we ask the last question?$$I, I don't think so. We've covered a lot.$$Okay, well, it's something to think about. Now, I didn't know what you did, you know, not really until after I got in this chair. I started really thinking about what you really do (laughter). I'm not--.$$You know, no one knows really about executive search. It's, it's a, we, we are in a, a business that only an elite group knows about. The kind of work we do and just to talk with us, you'd have to earn a base compensation of at least two hundred thousand dollars, plus a bonus, plus stock. That's just sort of the entry-level positions that we work on. So when you think about it, for the most part, the big four to five firms, you're talking mainly to white individuals. There's not a large group of Hispanics or, or Koreans or Chinese or African Americans that are earning that. There are, they are there, but not a lot. The bulk are white males and some white females. So our group is, I mean we--I'm in a very elitist group. But I'm proud of being here because by being here, I have, I believe I've helped bring African Americans into this, into this world. And they're--into, into this space that I'm in. And there are a number of my friends now, that now know about Russell Reynolds [Associates] and our competitors and are now excited about it and want to get into this business, which I think they should, 'cause I think this business grew as a white-oriented business, like individuals, like my founder, Russell Reynolds, who went to his, his friend to say, let me work for you. And he was white, and he said, who do you want--you know, I'll find somebody for you. And who does he find? He finds friends that he knows that are all white. So they, it just grew, and we grew to become a large white, organization. And we placed individuals that were predominantly white into corporations. It was until minorities like myself and some others in, in our industry--and there are others, there are other partners at other large firms now, it's only then when we began to help to diversify this market.$$Well, it's a position and, it's--does it ever make you feel sort of, that people really don't understand what you're--I mean--well, you know they don't. I mean a lot of people really don't know what you're doing.$$No, they don't. But I think it's not a secret. I mean I, I tell everyone what I do and how I do it, and it's, it's not always easy to, to get into a search firm and talk to them because our, our clients are, are really the ones that are paying us, and it's not the candidate. But it's important for us to know every individual that is looking for a job because they become our candidates.$$Okay, well, anything else before we get to this last question?$$No, go right ahead.$$Because I'm glad I raised that because it just seems--a lot of people have jobs where they feel that if other people only knew what they were doing, but that nobody--.$$I know.$$--that people really don't.$$Well, I'll tell you one, one story--the, the beauty that I think that I have enjoyed the most is being able to talk to individuals about the numerous options that they can have in their career. I do this a lot with my children, you know. I, I--and I tell my children, you know, when I grew up, I thought of being a lawyer, and I thought of being a doctor. I never thought about other things, but I can tell you now that you can, you can be a microbiologist. You can be a, an applied mathematics guru and work at a, at a law firm or you could work at a corporation. You can be an electrical engineer. You can go into Wall Street, and if you go into Wall Street, you don't have to be a commercial banker. You can be a derivatives expert, you can be a number, a whole host of things. So, if there's anything that I've learned from Russell Reynolds, it's all the different options that you have, not only just at corporations and financial institutions, but even as an entrepreneur.