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Leadership Team

Robert D. Friedman









Robert “Rob” Friedman is a Co-founder and Managing Director with Kirkland West. Prior to joining Kirkland West, Rob held leadership positions in management consulting, strategy, operations, finance, marketing, and general management. He began his career at General Electric Company and subsequently held management positions at Booz Allen Hamilton, PepsiCo, and Gateway.

Rob leads the Kirkland West Strategy and Business Development Practice, as well as the Private Equity Practice, with special emphasis on Chief Financial Officer searches.

He has developed a successful track record leading senior level assignments in business services, consumer products, retail, financial services, industrial goods, media, healthcare/life-sciences, technology, and private equity.

His search experience has spanned corporate strategy, business development, finance, marketing, operations, human resources, and general management.

Rob graduated from Brown University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BA in Economics. Additionally, he received his MBA With Distinction from the Harvard Business School.

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James K. Macdonald






A former client of Kirkland West, Jim Macdonald brings to the firm over twenty-five years of broad-gauged executive recruiting and human capital management experience with leading global organizations—including Goldman Sachs, General Electric (NBC), Primedia (KKR) and Thomson Reuters. His career comprises a rare blend of both search-firm consulting and in-house, corporate recruiting roles—enabling him to identify with and better advise clients.

Among his corporate recruiting roles, Jim led the executive search program at Thomson Reuters, the preeminent business information services provider, where he spearheaded the recruitment and succession planning effort of the top 100 leadership positions in the organization. Prior to Thomson, Jim directed firm-wide recruiting efforts for Goldman Sachs and ran the recruiting/human resources function for the home healthcare provider U.S. HomeCare. He also consulted on a full-time basis for Bridgewater Associates, working on the development of their top talent recruiting pipeline.

Jim’s executive search background comprises a decade of building his own recruiting practice, primarily with Russell Reynolds Associates (ultimately serving as Chief of Staff for the CEO) and Ross & Company, a leading search firm in the healthcare arena. Throughout his search career, he has conducted senior level recruiting assignments across a wide range of industries and functions, with a particular focus on education/media, financial services and healthcare.

Jim was born in Providence, Rhode Island, one of seven children of professional artists. He graduated from Yale University, where he played nationally-ranked college hockey, and went on to earn an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. He has served in leadership/advisory roles with a number of civic, academic and cultural organizations--including the Executive Search Information Exchange (ESIX), the Business Council of Fairfield County (formerly known as SACIA), Stamford Center for the Arts, Cornell University, LaSalle Academy (Providence, RI) and Yale University.

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William P. Pyonteck, Jr.










William Pyonteck is a Co-founder and Managing Director with Kirkland West.

William has successfully led and completed numerous senior level assignments in consumer products, financial services, industrial goods, media, healthcare, and technology.  Functionally, he has recruited extensively in the areas of corporate strategy, business development, operations, and general management.  He has a sustained track record of success in building high performance teams for top-tier organizations and establishing long-term, strategic partnerships with his clients.

William graduated with a degree in Economics from Harvard University.

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Melanie C. Stokes









Melanie Stokes is a Managing Director with Kirkland West with nearly twenty years of executive search experience.  She is a trusted advisor to senior leaders and is an active contributor to the firm's thought leadership.  While she supports a wide variety of clients across many industries and functions, she has a particular depth of specialization in private equity, strategy, and sales.

Melanie has partnered with the leadership teams of numerous Fortune 500, mid-cap, small-cap, and privately held companies to identify, recruit, and successfully transition top tier talent to their organizations.  She has engaged with clients globally across consumer products, financial services, industrial, life sciences, media, retail, and technology sectors.

Using a consultative approach combined with rigorous evaluation and benchmarking of the talent landscape, Melanie guides her clients in selecting the appropriate candidates that align with their strategic and business goals.


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