Nels B. Olson is a vice chairman and co-leader of Korn Ferry’s board and CEO services practice, based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., and New York offices. In addition to his board and CEO services practice role, Olson is the head of the global government affairs practice.
Olson is recognized in the industry for his keen business sense and political knowledge. He has advised many clients through challenging management transitions. Over the past 20 years, he has completed in excess of 1,000 successful searches for a wide range of Fortune 500 companies. Olson’s executive search and board assignments span the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America, and lie across multiple industries, including financial services, technology, consumer, industrial and healthcare.
Recent CEO-level assignments include Sallie Mae, the Commissioner of the NFL, and the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Boston. Recent board assignments include American International Group, Occidental Petroleum Corp., The Carlyle Group, NewsCorp and The Travelers Companies. Olson is a leader in placing senior-level professionals skilled in government/regulatory affairs, as well as international and public affairs, among them: Boeing, Carlyle, Caterpillar, Starbucks, Hilton, Aetna and Wellpoint. He has extensive experience in leading associations and nonprofit organizations, including Business Roundtable, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Motion Picture Association of America.
Olson joined Korn Ferry in 1993 after a successful career in public relations and government service. Prior to joining the firm, he was with the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, Inc. Preceding this, Olson gained experience in executive search when he was on the staff of the White House in the Office of Presidential Personnel. In this capacity, he identified and recommended candidates for senior political positions in cabinet agencies and was responsible for the political clearance for all presidential appointees. Olson earned a master’s degree in business administration from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the State University of New York.