Placing Leaders

at the intersection of strategy and analytics

Lingua Franca: A common or trade language used between people who do not share a native language.


Analytics today are revolutionizing traditional organizational structures. Rather than vision being driven exclusively from the top, some of the most important insights and strategic changes are emerging from data driven discoveries at every level. The right leaders and analysts can drive disproportionate value and accelerated growth in an organization, and the wrong ones can have long-term negative effects.  Organizations that aspire to rise and remain above their peers will need strong talent at all ranks.

Just as data and technology have transformed how businesses make decisions, they have transformed how to source top talent.  The challenge is no longer just how to network to find good candidates that are interested in a role.  Today, great search partners need to be able to define the roles that make the most impact and then combine a strong network with the ability to effectively mine the massive amount of information now available to find the ideal candidates for those roles.


Lingua Franca is a boutique retained executive and professional level search firm that places leaders in strategic roles that are driven by strong data and analytics.

We are former industry executives and consultants with more than 20 years of executive, analytical and advisory experience with large and small firms where strong analytics are a foundation for success.

This practical experience allows us to understand and define the essential skills and competencies needed to drive distinct value in industries and companies that demand strong analytical capabilities.

What we Do

We partner with you to define which skills and competencies would most benefit your organization and how to structure roles to attract top talent and maximize their impact.  We then draw on an exclusive candidate network and refined search approach honed over the last 20+ years to identify exceptionally qualified people to fill these positions.

We can speak to candidates with a refreshing level of knowledge about what the roles truly entail because we have direct experience in the industry.  This level of insight allows us to generate the kind of interest that leads the right people to take the next step forward.

Why We Are Different

As industry veterans ourselves, we understand your business and the realities of operating in companies both large and small. We believe what separates us is:

  • The ability to identify the specific needs of your organization and partner with you to craft roles that maximize the impact of new talent.
  • A unique perspective on how the art and science of analytics blend together to drive value.  This insight allows us to differentiate and balance your needs in a role between judgment, experience, and raw quantitative horsepower.
  • An exceptional ability to screen candidates that may appear similar, but possess subtle differences that can mean the difference between an ideal fit and a bad hire.
  • An unparalleled network of top-tier candidates developed and curated over decades.
  • Deep subject matter expertise that allows the candidates we present to be better informed and excited about your role before engaging directly with you, ensuring that all parties’ valuable time is well spent.

Our Approach

Assess Organizational Needs

As former consultants, we have years of experience in evaluating business models, organizational structures and the people leading and contributing within them. This expertise enables us to identify what gaps exist and how to best address them with the addition of new talent that rounds out your team and enables your organization to reach its full potential.

Craft Positions for Maximum Impact

As former industry operators, we can design roles that reflect the reality of various environments and enable real value to be delivered. We start by helping define what the key focus of the search will be. There are many kinds of leaders and contributors with different strengths within the field and we can help sort through nuances between them to identify which would drive the most leverage in your organization. If there are multiple openings, we help identify options for how to fill those roles in ways that allow the most flexibility or value added.

Source Potential Candidates

The experienced team at Lingua Franca begins to source candidates with the essential skills and organizational culture fit. We have a network of potential candidates built up over the course of more than 30 years and with whom we remain in regular contact to ensure we have the most up to date view of their capabilities and interests.  We also have advanced search and evaluation capabilities outside of candidates well known to us that enable us to effectively identify strong potential fits for your roles.

Nuanced Screening to Identify the Best Talent

We have been interviewing and managing talented performers and leaders for decades and over that time, we’ve refined how to identify solid performers and superstars.  The indicators of who may be the right or wrong fit for your organization can be subtle and we have honed our screening process to detect these differences.  The candidates we present to you will be highly vetted to ensure your valuable time is spent wisely.

Create and Maintain Interest Through the Hiring Process

Miscommunication of requirements and job responsibilities can be common between search firms and candidates when the details aren’t well understood.  With a strong background built from doing these jobs or partnering side by side with those that have done them, we can communicate the details to candidates accurately.  Through this knowledge and an exploration of the goals of candidates to ensure they match the what the role provides, we can advance people through the process that are excited by the opportunity.

Where We Place

We operate across the United States, placing candidates in organizations that value the differential insight that can be driven by data in decision-making. These vary from established Fortune 100 companies in Financial Services, to midsize Marketing companies and FinTech startups.


Credit Risk

Data Science



Credit Strategy

Decision Science

New Product Development

Risk Management

Digital Strategy


Who We Place

Our practice includes placing candidates at the top levels of an organization through the junior ranks needed to drive the day-to-day strategy development and insight. Our advanced screening techniques allow us to identify people with the specific industry experience you require or the raw capabilities to succeed in a new space

C-Level Searches

• Chief Executive Officer
• Chief Operating Officer
• Chief Risk Officer
• Chief Credit Officer
• Chief Revenue Officer
• Chief Analytics Officer
• Chief Marketing Officer
• Chief Financial Officer
• Chief Information Officer

Executive Searches

• Vice President and higher levels across analytics, strategy, credit risk and risk management, statistics, data and decision science, marketing, finance, digital and operations

Professional Searches

• Business Analysts
• Strategy Analysts
• Statisticians and Modelers
• Risk Professionals
• Data Scientists
• Decision Scientists
• Data Analysts
• Operations Analysts


Kathleen Pierce-Gilmore, Chief Executive Officer

Kathleen started her career in management consulting, helping companies make high stakes strategic decisions.  She entered the Financial Services sector through the prestigious Strategic Planning Group at American Express, transferring her consulting experience into practice.  She spent time tackling the most important issues and opportunities the company was facing, from considering the impact of different rewards redemption behaviors to driving investment strategies for key international markets. In her last role at Amex, she led the small merchant business in the US from idea to execution.

She was recruited to Capital One into a senior operations role where she led a significant transformation in how the company focused on the end customer, bringing her personal passion for helping people achieve financial health into play.  She led the Cobrand Card Partnership business upon acquisition of HSBC’s US credit card business and assisted in renegotiating and revamping multiple programs under her tenure.  She also conducted an aggressive assessment of the Bank footprint as part of a digital and economic transformation effort. Kathleen served as the head of the Women’s Interest Network and as part of the Capital One Ethics committee.

During her tenure at PayPal as VP and General Manager of PayPal Credit, the firm’s consumer credit business in North America, she led the team through significant change.  She transformed how the credit business performed product development, further elevated the use of data in decision making, inspired even greater focus on the customer experience and operational excellence, and ultimately worked towards establishing a strategic issuing partnership with Synchrony.

Kathleen spent the following years in the start-up space working on two payments-focused projects, joined the board of Sezzle and advised several fintechs along the way.  She then pivoted into executive recruiting as CEO of Lingua Franca to pursue one of her greatest strengths – matching talent with strategy.

Kathleen holds a B.A. from the Integrated Sciences Program at Northwestern University and is nearing completion of the Financial Times NED Diploma program where she has been honing her skills as a Non-Executive Director. She lives with her family in Bethesda Maryland.

Brian Lawton, President

Brian founded Lingua Franca and currently serves as its President.  With a career spent in Financial Services as an operator, he brought this industry expertise to executive search, designing the firm’s recruiting process to match the best of insider knowledge of the roles and great search practices.  He engages across the entire search process with clients, including scoping, sourcing and screening.  Brian leads the search kickoff with clients to ensure the roles are designed to deliver maximum impact, designs and oversees the screening approach, sources top talent to engage in the process and conducts highly customized interviews to assess subject matter expertise.

After starting his career in consulting, Brian joined Capital One where he spent nearly 20 years in various P&L ownership and strategic leadership roles in customer acquisition, marketing, customer and portfolio management, underwriting, operations, risk management and corporate training. He developed expertise in lending and deposit businesses across both consumer and small business customers. He was also accredited as a Credit Officer in recognition of his judgment, intuition, critical thinking and functional expertise.

Identifying and developing talent was a large part of Brian’s focus at Capital One. He spent extensive time interviewing candidates and was appointed one of the few senior case interviewers in the company based on his ability to effectively identify the most promising future associates. During his final 4 years at the firm, Brian led Enterprise Credit Training, where he had responsibility for the development and delivery of industry-leading training to new professionals through senior executives on core company strengths of advanced analytics, decision science and revenue & credit risk management.

Brian later joined AQN Strategies as a Managing Director and built a practice focused on due diligence assessments of companies in consumer and small business lending on behalf of Private Equity clients. The firms ranged from established companies to small startups and these engagements often required rapid assessments of their business models and teams to identify sources of strength and opportunity. He also spent extensive time developing credit strategies for companies in consumer lending.

Brian holds an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where he graduated as a Fuqua Scholar. He also earned a dual BA degree in both Economics and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Jared Oren, Vice President

Jared is a seasoned professional with extensive executive search experience across various industries and functions. He joined Lingua Franca Search soon after its founding and serves as the engagement manager of searches after they are launched.  He sources candidates, conducts multiple rounds of interviews, leads client update meetings and works with candidates and clients through offer negotiations.  Jared is directly responsible for ensuring successful client outcomes and a positive experience for all candidates.

Before joining Lingua Franca, Jared was a principal at Heidrick & Struggles, a premiere global executive search firm, where he worked for 6+ years in roles of increasing seniority and responsibility. At Heidrick, Jared was a member of the firm’s Financial Services Practice and worked both with established institutions and nascent fintech companies. He led executive level search engagements across a wide array of functional areas, including finance, risk, data governance, operations, technology, legal, compliance and regulatory affairs. Jared began his Heidrick career as an MBA intern before being hired full-time.

Before business school, Jared worked as a consultant for Accenture’s Talent and Organization Performance practice, helping clients manage large-scale organizational transformation and change management efforts.

Jared received a BBA in Business Economics and Public Policy from George Washington University and an MBA from Georgetown University.

Drew Messmer, Director

Drew has spent most of his career in the search industry.  Prior to joining Lingua Franca, Drew worked as a Senior Recruiter for Korn Ferry, an international executive search firm.  At Korn Ferry, Drew specialized in the recruitment of finance and accounting roles across professional and executive levels.  Drew also led searches in other areas including legal, human resources, sales & marketing, and compliance.  Drew was one of the main interfaces between his clients and Korn Ferry, and managed the entire search process for his positions.

Prior to working at Korn Ferry, Drew owned and ran an independent boutique recruitment firm with a national scope that specialized in the placement of finance professionals.  Drew was responsible for all aspects of the business, including business development and all recruitment responsibilities.  During the three years Drew ran this business, he placed 30+ professionals in different locations throughout the country, primarily specializing in mid-level and Director level positions.  Areas of focus included startup companies, financial services, insurance, real estate, consumer goods, and accounting firms.  Drew interfaced daily with Directors of Talent Acquisition as well as executive leadership.  He has also worked as an in-house recruiter for Bon Secours Health System and as an executive recruiter at Randstad.

Drew is a graduate of Virginia Tech and received a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Bachelor of Arts in History.  Drew also received a Global Business Minor.

Let Lingua Franca help you invest in your company’s future.

Get in touch with us today.