Category: InterSearch Romania – Pendl & Piswanger Romania S.R.L

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Leading the way: Romanians are early adopters

Searching for the perfect candidate is Ana Ber’s passion. The Managing Partner at InterSearch Romania often takes creative and innovative approaches in the process.

Just how unconventional these approaches can be is showcased by a project she successfully completed last year together with Alexander Wilhelm, Managing Partner at InterSearch Executive Consultants in Frankfurt. A long-standing client had been looking to fill a vacant SAP development position for a special module for about a year. “The candidate market for this very rare search profile is practically depleted in Germany, and we don’t actually handle these types of search profiles anymore,” Alexander Wilhelm says. But the client was open to the idea of having the person work remotely, even though it was “uncharted territory” for the company to fill such a position from abroad. Ana Ber came up with the brilliant idea, searched in Central and Eastern Europe, and actually found the perfect candidate in Romania. The developer now travels to Frankfurt once a month, but otherwise works from Romania.

Global network an asset

“This example shows how companies and candidates are changing and evolving,” Ana says. Those in charge were trying to unite different ways of working and living, as well as new business models. All of this, she says, needs to be balanced, taking into account the expectations of the younger generation for corporate sustainability. “Companies need to focus more on their employees, otherwise they will lose them or not find new ones,” explains Ana. She elaborates: the COVID pandemic forced many companies – including in Romania – to expedite their digital advancement. One advantage of this is that Romanians were early adopters, which is why many European companies launched pilot projects there, for instance, to test new applications and products.

The example of German-Romanian cooperation also underscores how advantageous it is for an executive search consultancy to be networked in a globalized world. “If I don’t know what’s happening in Germany or Singapore, I can’t offer my clients the perfect solution,” Ana explains. After all, she says, it’s about finding the best staffing for them for today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the day after that.

Emancipation more advanced than in Germany

At InterSearch Worldwide, Ana Ber is a Regional Leader for Energy and Diversity & Inclusion. She ensures that diversity and inclusion are lived and implemented within the network. “Only then can we make it clear to our clients, based on our own experience, how important these points are,” says Ana.

This leads to remarkable accomplishments. A case in point: the executive search consultant was able to place a woman as general manager in a Japanese automotive company for the first time. This example set a precedent there so that even more women have since taken over management positions. “They were simply the best, regardless of their gender,” Ana explains.

Preconceptions about older people

In former communist countries like Romania, emancipation is further along than, for example, in Germany, she says. This is because women there have always worked in male-dominated professions, Ana explains. With a 35.8 percent share of women in management positions, Romania ranked 13th in the EU in 2021, while Germany was in the bottom third in 20th place. Only the public sector and politics lag behind in Romania when it comes to equality.

“Romania is actually very tolerant,” Ana says. “But there is bias against older people, from the age of 55 you are considered old in our country.” Employees of this age are seen as slow and lacking energy. It is assumed that they do not give their all to the company. But that’s not true, assures Ana. She is not only concerned with gender justice. She wants to prevent discrimination against older and younger people alike, as well as discrimination based on ethnicity. And she’s always finding ways to do that, too – creatively and unconventionally.

About InterSearch Executive Consultants

InterSearch Executive Consultants is one of the leading personnel consultancies and specializes in the recruitment of executives (Executive Search) and systematic analyses of executive potential (Management Audit / Executive Diagnostic). Founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personalberatung”, the company is now represented in Germany with three offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne and was a founding partner of InterSearch Worldwide in 1989. Today, InterSearch operates worldwide in the field of executive search with more than 600 consultants in over 50 countries with more than 90 locations.

About InterSearch Romania – Pendl & Piswanger Romania S.R.L

P&P Romania is a leading company in executive search, management consulting, and interim placement, positioned among the leading 5 local consultancies in Romania.

In search, we identify the potential candidates active and passive on the market and, through an extensive contact and assessment program we produce a shortlist of relevant and properly motivated candidates from among the top performers. We don’t give up the assignment until you have hired the right person. We excel at the more challenging assignments. Whether clients need a rare combination of skills or a new team to achieve a turnaround, or an individual making a difficult relocation, we do what it takes to achieve results. Thanks to our reputation and the strength of our network, we are in a position to enable our clients to access and appoint the most talented business leaders worldwide.

“It’s never too late for a new beginning” – an exceptional consultant portrait

Interview by InteSearch Executive Consultants, Germany with Ana Ber, Managing Partner of the InterSerch member in Romania, Pendl & Piswanger Romania.

Ana Ber is not only an experienced and extremely successful HR and management consultant, but also a fascinating person. She has been working as a partner at InterSearch in Romania for more than 15 years.

When Ana Ber talks to candidates who aren’t sure if they should leave their safe professional haven for a new job, she likes to tell her own story. Because it is a good example of how much courage it takes to make a change and how successful a 180-degree turnaround can be. “It’s never too late to start over,” says Ana.

Building refugee camps

Born during the reign of Nicolae Ceaușescu, Ana emigrated to Israel at the age of 18. She studied health management at Tel Aviv University and joined the army. During a special assignment, she helped Jews residing in Ethiopia escape to Israel. At the time, Ethiopia was in the throes of a protracted and relentless civil war. The resulting famine forced thousands of people to leave their country.

A scholarship eventually took Ana to Boston and the Boston University School of Public Health, where she earned her master’s degree. Her experience with refugees stood her in good stead when UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, sought assistance for a project in Sudan. The job: to set up and manage refugee camps on a large scale.

Youngest female hospital manager

So, at just 23, Ana started at UNHCR as a project manager. Six years later, she left Africa with an impressive track record: she had set up and managed a total of about 600 camps for two million people in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. “A fantastic time,” Ana says today. Because no one can ever take this expertise away from her: How do I build up an infrastructure? How do people get urgently needed medical care? Where and how do children go to school? How might refugee flows develop?

“I studied public health because it was always my dream to become the youngest female hospital manager,” Ana explains. A dream that ultimately drove her to achieve even more. Then, when Ana wanted to start a family, she knew she had to go back to Europe. “The conditions in Africa were not conducive to raising a child there at that time,” she says. Initially she was in Paris, working for the World Health Organization (WHO). After returning to Romania, she founded the first private emergency medical clinic there, SOS Medical Group, and built it up over two years.

Know more than clients

After leaving the SOS Medical Group, she looked for an opportunity to continue working in Romania – and happened to land at Pendl & Piswanger executive search, InterSearch Romania. “I had no idea what executive search was and didn’t understand why companies should hand over executive recruitment to another service provider.” After all, she had already searched for and found employees herself in the middle of nowhere in Africa. But she took the plunge and gave it a try. During her first year, she had more than 1,000 meetings, learned the industry from the ground up, and forged a wide-reaching network. In the process, she fell in love with the job and today, more than 15 years later, is still passionate about it. “The best stroke of luck in my life,” Ana sums up.

Why does Ana love recruiting? “It gives me the adrenaline rush I need when I know: I have to solve a practically unsolvable problem.” That way, she says, she can get really creative and explore new avenues. “When excitement and stress levels are lower, I get bored quickly.” In addition: “An executive search consultant should know more than the clients.” That’s why lifelong learning is essential in this job, she says. So it’s the perfect fit for a woman like Ana Ber.

About InterSearch Executive Consultants

InterSearch Executive Consultants is one of the leading personnel consultancies and specializes in the recruitment of executives (Executive Search) and systematic analyses of executive potential (Management Audit / Executive Diagnostic). Founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personalberatung”, the company is now represented in Germany with three offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne and was a founding partner of InterSearch Worldwide in 1989. Today, InterSearch operates worldwide in the field of executive search with more than 600 consultants in over 50 countries with more than 90 locations.


Navigating uncertainty while focusing on human-centric leadership

Interview with  Ana Ber, Managing Partner of Pendl&Piswanger Romania, the Romanian member of InterSearch Worldwide, about trends in the executive search industry.

Q: The global economy seems to experience challenges we have not seen in decades: very high inflation, the prospects of synchronized recession, and even war. In this context, what do you see in the labor market and especially in the field of executive search?

Mrs. ANA BER: Macro-environment factors have always had an impact, to some degree, for better and worse, on the job market, and in turn, the executive search industry. We’re expecting some slowdown in the executive search market, but, due to expected investments in infrastructure and renewables as well as continuing industrial investments (manufacturing) where we are well positioned, 2023 may be a good year for us too, especially in the second half of 2023.

However, even though is not exactly our business, the hiring environment will get worse in 2023 especially because of all these reasons stated by you above, especially for knowledge workers. At the same time, the biggest challenge will be that recruiting budgets will shrink which will put even more pressure on Talent Acquisition experts.

Even though borders seem not to be a barrier, in executive search we will see more need for localizing executives, especially because of external factors which might affect mobility.

Q: What was the new normal for headhunters in 2022 in such an environment? What are you looking for? What companies are looking for?

Mrs. ANA BER: Even at the level we are recruiting, neither in 2022 employers were not in the driving seat because it remained a candidate-driven market. Because passive hiring remained at high levels, our expertise was required because organizations needed to reach the candidates and not the other way around. What we continued and seems to become the new normal is to focus on a consultative approach, act more as a business consultant than a pure headhunter, support clients in finding the right fits for their needs, tackling into cultural fit rather than on purely functional one. Our clients come to us when they need a sounding opinion and want to really think through with us the types of candidate profiles that make the most sense, how to think creatively about potential candidates who might not come from more traditional geographies or industries for a given role, how to look from different perspectives at a certain role or structure, how not to overlook the cultural alignment and increase diversity.

Surprisingly, we saw more opportunistic hiring. Especially in the second half of 2022 (and it will continue in 2023) it seemed to become a greater time for our clients to continue to be active in the market because there are opportunities to pursue and attract candidates who they might not have had the chance to recruit 12 months ago because equities were through the roof, and everything was up and to the right.

For executives, there are increasing opportunities to be very intentional about what they want beyond simply accepting the highest offer – an organization that is mission-driven, that is impacting global warming for the better, an organization where they can do their life’s work. Companies taking it seriously will be better equipped to compete for top talent because raising compensation alone is not the right answer.

Q: A new concept developed in 2022: quiet quitting, in simple terms employees just want to meet their job descriptions without taking any extra duty. Is quiet quitting real? If yes, how would you describe the managers’ role in combating quiet quitting and what are you looking for when you are headhunting such a manager? Do you see such a move for executives as well?

Mrs. ANA BER: It’s not even a new concept in my opinion, actually it’s an old one renamed from disengagement, but it’s not surprising that it became a hot topic, considering the power of social media today. Shortly put, it is a new name for an old behavior. If we look at Gallup’s engagement trends of the last 20 years we will notice that there is not too much change. However, we notice a slight increase in disengagement in the last 2 years.

Yes, managers’ roles are important in increasing engagement, but they alone can’t do all. However, as a leader, you have to ask and find out what is important for the individuals in your team and for those in the teams of your team, what are their aspirations, and, most important, if the organization is ready to support those aspirations. If not, ask yourself if your recruitment process focuses on what is important and if you, as an organization, don’t rely too much on strictly functional technical fit per role and neglect completely the cultural fit.

As a total organization, I think that is better to have reachable goals related to the workforce – just think about it: Is it realistic to expect your population to be super engaged and go the extra mile?

Another issue to take into consideration is the workload of the people in your organization. Especially in the last 2 years, many roles were hard to fill and the demand was higher than the offer so existing employees had to cover also for the missing ones, though putting in extra work and hours with little reward or none. In this context, quiet quitting – and the conscious disengagement from additional work beyond what is required – appears to be more of a correction to a working culture that didn’t recognize or remunerated people than an outright rejection of the work itself.

Q: Have we witnessed a drop in engagements for managers as well? Like a rise in job resignations for executives? In other words – have we seen this trend in Romania and, consequently, prospects for much more business for Romanian executive search companies?

Mrs. ANA BER: No, not really. At least not with the clients we are working with. However, what we’ve noticed is the need for companies to have managers who can contribute to re-engaging people because while well-being policies and higher pay will help employees feel more appreciated, a recent Harvard Business Review study found that the decision of whether an employee quietly quits often rests on the quality of their relationship with their manager.

Q: Are your clients looking for new skills for their wannabe executives? What skills do executives need to win in the new hybrid environment?

Mrs. ANA BER: Let’s be honest, it is much easier to lead when everyone is remotely or on-site. The challenges of hybrid leadership remain a tall order for some organizational leaders because they need a new set of skills to keep their teams engaged and performing. The lack of constant visibility to everyone makes it difficult to determine who might be struggling, who is thriving, and who is ready for a new assignment.

What a leader needs to be prone to in the new hybrid environment is awareness of bias given to on-site employees and avoiding the price paid by employees (and organizations) for the flexibility to work remotely partially or totally because the result of this bias is threatening productivity, engagement, and retention.

In a hybrid environment, a leader also needs to accept the need of their subordinates for hybrid working and avoid the trap of mistrust, learning how to better monitor the results from afar. It is well known that some leaders struggle with the association between an empty desk and a lack of work. What we all need is a culture of trust and flexibility. Putting all these struggles and challenges in short, the fundamentals of leadership remain the same, only the tools and methods change to increase leadership effectiveness. Open communication remains the key and leaders should not forget that even when on a remote basis people need small talk because of more joy = higher productivity.

Q: From the services you are highly skilled in, like leadership development, HR consulting, management consulting, executive coaching, or others, which one had the most surprising evolution in 2022 and why?

Mrs. ANA BER: Besides executive search services we had an increase in Executive Onboarding Services and exponentially in Interim Management (especially in the industrial sector and Services).

In the case of  Interim Management, companies no longer have the time or the same organization as before and, as a recruitment process is sometimes time-consuming, yet the need to act fast to exploit opportunities; and a decline in the conventional talent pool cause companies to react in many ways, one of them is turning towards the support of companies like us, providing interim management solution. In addition to the acceleration of the speed of execution of projects in companies, combined with digitalization, has made the need for skills relatively varied and faced with these problems, the interim manager appears to be an ideal solution for companies because it brings several benefits such:

  • Interim Managers can start immediately;
  • Usually, they are overqualified for the roles they are asked to fulfill and as a result, they can get off to a brisk and successful start;
  • Being outsiders of the organization they are non-political individuals who look for the root causes to problems rather than getting caught up in office politics or silo protectionist mentality;
  • Because they have experienced a broad bandwidth of best practices through their various previous assignments they can therefore advise and implement the various actions required to achieve the assignment objectives;
  • Looking from the cost perspective, in the case of Interim Management companies pay only for the work provided and there is no redundancy or exit cost to an interim assignment.

Q: From your experience in 2022 and anticipating what might happen in 2023 which jobs in which industries are and will be the hardest to fill and why?

Mrs. ANA BER: At the intermediary level, we think that pressure will remain on the placement of operational, functional, or project managers who are able to fill a position (human resources, digital, marketing, IT sales, operations, finance, etc.) and to drive forward organization and cross-functional projects. An increase will be most probably in highly technical roles to support the digitalization projects and industry 4.0 capabilities.

At senior executive levels, we anticipate the engagement of highly experienced senior managers capable of driving large-scale transformations such as post-merger integrations, development of new activities, international expansion, turnarounds, corporate restructuring, and exits from the crisis will continue to stay high.

Q: What are your prospects for 2023? What will be the face of the executive search in 2023? Do you think that skills in restructuring, treasury, strategy, or other business transformation skills will have a bigger/ smaller/the same role? And why?

Mrs. ANA BER: As said before, we see as a main trait in 2023 the human-to-human dynamic in the workplace which will push leaders to display even more people-centric leadership. Tipping on this point in executive search assignments we will focus even more on identifying these traits defined as leading with authenticity, empathy, and adaptivity. If before these traits were nice to have it become imperious necessary to transform them into a must-have. Walk the talk is what counts most. Leaders need to instill a sense of security in their people because this is what many of them are looking for in a job, according to one of Gallup’s surveys.

In Romania, we already notice that the economy is slowing down as the market accommodates higher energy costs and shrinking private consumption. Though, M&As are expected to remain high, decrease most probably due to global repositioning and reorganizations as well as ESG and energy prices. Focus on digitalization will remain a priority and we see a lot of opportunities coming from the future 5G-network implementation, the renewable energy developments, or the undergoing gas exploitation of the Black Sea resources which will most likely make from the energy and IT&C sectors the fuel of potential future business opportunities in Romania.

Q: What is your main message to your clients/partners in terms of challenges and opportunities for the short and medium term?

Mrs. ANA BER: Challenging times will come and 2023 will bring most probably the need for leaders to take tough decisions. The key to success will be to find a balance between short-term and medium to long-term consequences and think of the sustainability of their decision not only on their immediate results.

Another key to success is the evolving role of middle management whose profile is slightly changing from a pure manager overseeing the performance of his / her team towards more of a coach, mentor, and very important, empathetic leader. Having the most performant Boards in place is not enough for businesses to thrive and have success in the long term.

As a closing, what I suggest leaders consider is that even though in the short-term run the global economy is slowing down and most businesses will feel 2023 is a recession, beyond 2023 the global economy will likely turn to a slow-growing trend. So, leaders should keep their eyes on the supply chain, cash flow, and people.

About the author:

Ana Ber, Managing Partner of InterSearch Romania since 2005. Her main areas of expertise are Business Development and Search & Selection in Romania, Local & International Executive Search, HR consultancy in: Recruiting and Selection, Job analysis, and evaluation, Management Audit, Assessment / Development Center, Board Efficiency Assessment, Personal Efficiency Program Training & Coaching Executive Coaching.

Ana covers several industries, such as Manufacturing / Engineering / Technology; Banking and Financial Services, Fast Moving and Durable Consumer goods; Pharmaceutical industry, Real estate / Facility & Property Management / Construction / Infrastructure / Environment Energy / Oil / Gas & Renewables / Power.


Original article published on


2022, challenges and opportunities for leaders
Interview with Ana Ber, Managing Director Pendl&Piswanger - InterSearch Romania.

From an interview with Ana Ber, Consultant and Managing Director Pendl & Piswanger – InterSearch Romania.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”  Abraham Lincoln

Q: 2021 is about to end and we are still under the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you see 2021 versus 2020 from a business point-of-view?

Ana Ber: After the inevitable drop of first 2 quarters due to pandemic in 2020 when several projects were placed on hold, since Q3 2020 our executive search and interim management businesses showed a continuous recovery and growth. The fact that we were digitized long before the pandemic started was of much help, the transition to the “new way of work” was very smooth and fast. One shifts in our industry yielded most on our company’s growth: the pandemic revealed that business transformation needs different leadership attributes especially during a period when companies must redefine their employee value proposition to stop their best people from leaving in the first place and retain them for longer periods. We, as executive search consultants, have an obligation to improve the way businesses are led. To grow a business, leadership teams need extraordinary talent and a future-focused orientation. Our job, as executive search and leadership advisors is to help our clients achieve their future aspirations, follow the trends, spot opportunities, and move forward.

Q: Digital Transformation is on every CEO’s agenda these days. How is Digital Transformation changing executive recruitment processes?

Ana Ber: Executive search remained one of the most traditionalist and conservative industries but, lucky us, Covid-19 changed dramatically the way industry works, from almost entirely based on personal contacts, assessments, and face-to-face interviews to almost entirely online, with video interviewing becoming the primary communication mean. The online tools have broadened the horizons for executive recruiters and have allowed all executive candidates (local, national, global) to be evaluated consistently against each other through virtual interviewing. The pluses are multiple for our industry: the headhunting process runs on a global scale, velocity of processes increase, technology adds more value and shorten the time to research and evaluate candidates without losing the quality, recruiting biases are decreasing.

Our role when searching for the top management positions is to draw a line where digital assistance no longer provides extra efficiency or value in a candidate search. We, at Pendl & Piswanger InterSearch (InterSearch member in Romania), take advantage of digital tools to begin the search, then continue the process using a deep understanding of the client, their needs, and what selected candidates can bring to the client’s company. Our experience proved that embracing the benefits of digital technology while keeping a balance between the digital and human interface we embarked in a new era of hyper-targeted executive recruiting that help us build successful leadership teams for our clients. For us it is important to avoid becoming lazy and relying too much on digital tools and underestimate the power of human touch as the consultant’s personal competence will remain a prerequisite for successful matches. After all, an algorithm is as good as its user.

Q: Hybrid Work should bring the best of both worlds – the benefits of working from home with the benefits of working on-site with ad-hoc teamwork. What skills are needed for employees and executives to capitalize the benefits of Hybrid Work?

Ana Ber: Since Microsoft announced in October its intention to let more employees work from home post-pandemic, “hybrid workplace” has become a business buzzword. Hybrid workplace policies allow for a more flexible work arrangement, with some employees working from home, others in an office and perhaps some coming in for specific situations and/or a designated percentage of the time. Companies are realizing the opportunity to reshape their cost model as lower real estate costs and productivity benefits of remote employees. The downside of keeping a hybrid model is that the managers used with a traditional business model are not necessary ready to manage in this new world and many of them did not rise to the challenge. Managing a remote team or a hybrid team is far harder than managing a team in the office and is forcing managers to be far more deliberate in everything they do.

Different work models mean different access to information, communication channels, formal and informal relationship-building opportunities, networking, and social connection. To succeed in managing successfully in a hybrid environment we believe there are few mandatory skills.

– Inclusive leadership that foster participation within the team

– Clarity in communication which allow managers to provide a clear purpose / objective but also proactively communicating about priorities and changes, proactively touch base and provide space for tough conversations

– Human touch which means finding time and ways to interact and let team members know each other as people, not only as participants in a process

– Empathy. Might sound as a cliche but pandemic proved that empathic leaders were much more successful than those who were not. More than ever employees expect to feel understood and appreciated, to work in a company which fosters curiosity and being open to the different opinions and experiences of others.

What we remind executives we are working with is that their responsibility is not anymore only for productivity and profitability but they are more responsible than ever to keep the companies’ cultures alive and support their teams to navigate through all challenges of the new work models.

Q: Many companies think that Digital Transformation is driven by technology and processes, but the truth is that Digital Transformation cannot be successfully completed without having everyone on-board. What do you think is the role of HR in this process?

Ana Ber: Indeed, with the new sets of data being collected, HR will be able to predict the organizational outcomes and we, in our global networks InterSearch and SeniorManagement Worldwide, are discussing the visible trend of HR getting real power and new authority which bring them much closer to the CEOs. The outlook is that HR will become more organizational designers and leaders of change who will promote flexibility in their organisations by breaking down hierarchies and streamlining processes. This trend will require HRs with lot of business acumen and digital and transformational skills, ideally gained outside HR, to drive business-centred decisions, such as how overhead costs can be saved or what form of organisational development makes sense. More and more we believe that HR leaders will have to become more business leaders than functional ones.

As all other business leaders, HR will have to master data and analytics and cultivate a full understanding of available tools and digital strategies.

Q: A survey published in The Guardian showed that almost a quarter of workers are actively planning to change employers in the next few months, as part of a “great resignation” prompted by a high number of vacancies and burnout caused by the pandemic. Do you see this trend in Romania as well? What should managers do to retain their top talents?

Ana Ber: Indeed, there are lot of talks about the “great resignation” but we have to look at these titles with realism. Yes, it seems that in Romania is a candidate market too and more people are quitting their jobs, but we should avoid incorrect generalisations because many of the big headlines are coming from the intent to resign. Talking or thinking about quitting and actually quitting are two very different things. And, looking back in the past, resignations generally climb when economies rebound. However, the causes of the great resignation are multi-faceted, and companies should look at what causes resignations and act. The solution we strongly recommend our clients is to solve the talent shortage from inside out, focusing on internal mobility, reskilling, and upskilling existing employees and create a climate which nurtures building and strengthening relationships of leaders with each individual talent. In short words, companies, through their leaders, need to become more people centric, to act more human and give employees a more individualized experience.

To transform the “great resignation” in a “great opportunity” there is no one-size-fits-all solution and managers need to innovate and “see” their people. They must invest in upskilling, clear career path, address burnout and focus on wellbeing, define employee value proposition, getting the right balance of remote vs on-site working, break down silos and overcome remote working challenges to make people feel connected to the company, flatten the structures and make performance management more flexible, project focused and on-going process.

Managers could use the huge amount of soft data companies have collected to build in-depth knowledge of their people by moving from talent segments based on demographics towards those based on values like career path, collaboration, wellbeing, financial security, purpose. Listening to their subordinates is the key and one tool that is very effective is “stay conversations” where managers can identify controllable variables such as how employees prefer to be recognized and which learning experiences best match employees’ career aspirations.

The unprecedented shift of work habits imposed by the pandemic bring another challenge to managers and companies especially in companies with production sites. Each company needs to find the optimum balance of hybrid, remote or on-site especially in manufacturing companies where the biggest danger, as pointed out by Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey, is to create an “us and them” culture. “Only about 25 percent of workers can do their jobs without being on-site. This is a group that takes a shower before work. We cannot forget that most people take a shower after work, so there is a risk of a growing divide between those two groups.”

Q: You launched a new business line called Interim Management. Why should top execs care about establishing a succession plan and how can your company help?

Ana Ber: More than ever, the pandemic showed that circumstances can rapidly change in ways that are beyond the control of anyone and a succession plan is crucial for any business, no matter the size or type. And, what seems the danger is that, especially in CEE region, most business leaders do not have a succession plan, at least not one documented and openly communicated to all parties involved.

In situations such as the restructuring of an organization, launching of new projects, relocations of factories, a gap in the management due to sudden leave of a manager, or a company experiencing such fast growth that they cannot keep up to speed, can cause alarming problems and overwhelm the resources at hand. Companies tend to look for external services that provide expert knowledge in order to deal with the challenges that arise out of such situations like the ones listed above. This is where usually an interim manager comes into play.

Q: What are the differences between an Interim Manager and a Management Consultant?

Ana Ber: Choosing whether to take an Interim Management approach or hiring a management consultant can be difficult because the two concepts resemble one another. Although there are some similarities between the management consultant and the interim manager, we see that more senior directors choose to go for the Interim Management solution rather than going for a management consultant. This is because there are some clear advantages to hiring an interim manager instead of a consultant. One could say that an interim manager is a management consultant, but a management consultant is not an interim manager.

An interim manager is hired as an independent professional based on own personal abilities, experience and reputation while a management consultant is hired based on the firm’s reputation.

An interim manager does not only the analytical and strategic part of the job as the management consultant does but also implements measures to solve the problem was brought onboard for.

An interim manager reports directly to the employer so conflicts of interests are avoided while a management consultant reports back to the company who then reports to business, costing valuable time and sometimes additional resources.

An interim manager works with the employer’s teams and adapts to existing resources while a management consultant chooses the people and might bring additional resources.

Interim managers are usually experts in their fields or industries bringing a broad experience which relates to the particular field of the employing company while management consultants are rarely specialized in one area, they base their skills most commonly on methods, processes and analysis that is laid out by the consulting firm.

Shortly, the main difference is that while management consultants advise, interim managers are doing.

Q: What are top 5 opportunities you see in 2022 for companies in Romania?

Ana Ber: As post-pandemic recovery will continue in 2022, even though as announced by several analysts at a slower pace, selecting and recruiting candidates for management roles with the new skills required by the shift of work models is a challenge for most companies, and this market trend will reflect in the growing demand for management recruitment.

Industries such energy, retail, IT, education, healthcare, FMCG, Transport, logistics and agribusiness will continue their growth which will increase the demand for executives and niche specializations.

Even though FDI projects decreased the trend will reverse and supply chain and manufacturing will remain most probably the most popular investment projects, as mentioned in the most recent EY Attractiveness Survey Romania 2021.

PNRR, decarbonisation, digitalization and automation are also opportunities for companies in 2022 and beyond and those who will know to turn opportunity into results will be worth to follow also in the years to come.

About the author:

Ana Ber, Managing Partner of InterSearch Romania since 2005. Her main areas of expertise are Business Development and Search & Selection in Romania, Local & International Executive Search, HR-consultancy in: Recruiting and Selection, Job analysis and evaluation, Management Audit, Assessment / Development Center, Board Efficiency Assessment, Personal Efficiency Program Training & Coaching Executive Coaching.

Ana covers several industries, such as Manufacturing / Engineering / Technology; Banking and Financial Services, Fast Moving and Durable Consumer goods; Pharmaceutical industry, Real estate / Facility & Property Management / Construction / Infrastructure / Environment Energy / Oil / Gas & Renewables / Power.


Original article published on

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