Stephen A. Unger is looking for what he calls "human modems" folks with experience in a wide range of industries who can help highly diverse corporations get connected.

Unger, the new partner-in-charge of the worldwide entertainment and media practice at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, knows that a media giant like Walt Disney Co. wants people who understand the synergy between a company's many operating divisions and are familiar with international business.

"We look for people who are culturally fluent. Someone who can do business as well in Munich as in the United States," Unger said.

Unger's expertise is in entertainment and high technology. Until his appointment, he was managing director of the worldwide entertainment and communications recruiting practice with rival firm Spencer Stuart.

Unger himself speaks six languages, and has lived and worked overseas, as well as in the U.S. At age 22, he went to Madrid, where he had difficulty finding a place to get good American food. His response? He teamed up with three others to raise $600,000 and began "Fosters Hollywood." According to Unger, it was the first themed restaurant in Europe.

He sold the chain in 1975 and returned to the United States for a career in entertainment. He rose to a number of senior corporate positions at CBS and Universal Pictures. One day he was being sought by an executive search firm as president of a studio's international division, when the recruiters asked him to join their ranks.

"I said at the time, 'Thank you, but I'm not interested.' But then I started reading about (recruitment). To their credit, the guys kept at me," Unger said. "Finally, I collapsed and said I'd do it."

Lauren Hollingsworth

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