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Published 05/12/16

John Hagan ’86: Identifying high-performing leaders, building effective teams

John Hagan '86John Hagan ’86 has carved out a singular niche in the competitive world of executive recruiting. As the managing director of Savage Partners in Hartford, CT, he specializes in building effective management teams for technology companies backed by venture capital and private equity firms. The company has established a reputation as the go-to firm for helping clients recruit world-class talent for software, e-commerce, mobile, and internet-enabled businesses.

"The most important trait in a new hire is personal values…by a long shot."

Hagan has interviewed hundreds of candidates seeking senior leadership positions. His observations about what’s important in a new hire and building a team are insightful and apply to any industry.

“The most important trait in a new hire is personal values…by a long shot,” insists Hagan. “A true leader needs to be an exceptionally hard worker,” he continues. “Leaders need to be fair, honest and have the ability to connect with people on a deeply personal level that shows they truly care.  If they do that, people will follow them.”

With an enviable record of successful ventures, Hagan also knows what it takes to thrive as an entrepreneur. “Successful entrepreneurs need to have tremendous perseverance and a blind belief that their vision of the future is correct. They will encounter many naysayers along the way and if they spend too much time listening to them, they will ultimately get discouraged and quit.”

What do graduates entering today’s workforce need to know? “I have three children in college right now, and I give the same advice to them,” says Hagan. “The world is changing so rapidly and what you think is the status quo today will not be in a very short period of time.  You need to keep your eyes and ears open to what is going on so that you can adapt quickly to an ever-changing market. Take risks, trust your instincts and speak your mind as there is a good chance your current boss isn’t as in touch with what the future holds as you are.”


Bryant’s alumni network is 45,000 strong – accomplished men and women who influence, lead, and innovate in their professions, industries, and communities around the globe. They remain engaged with the University by sharing their expertise with students and faculty during campus visits and through the career center network, participating in alumni activities, and making Bryant a priority for their philanthropy.