Category: Industry Insights

“Executive Search needs to recognize the opportunity in new technologies ” – Interview with Klas Karlsson (Talentia – InterSearch Sweden)

The future of executive search in Sweden and other Western European countries is facing significant changes. Many of these developments have been accelerated by the radical change in people’s work lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel and meetings. In addition to more flexible remote work models, the world of work seems to have taken a big leap, especially in the area of digitization. Klas Karlsson, executive search consultant in Stockholm and CEO of Talentia AB – InterSearch Sweden, sees the challenges for recruiters – as well as their clients – in identifying technological developments early on.

Professional social networks are changing all the time – executive search must keep up

Karlsson is convinced that an excellent headhunter cannot rely solely on his network and negotiation skills, but must keep an eye on technological developments. He sees the rise of social networks as particularly crucial: “All executive search consultants work with LinkedIn. Those are the basics. But are we perhaps missing candidates there?” Every executive search consultant would need to be aware that even now, candidates may be falling through the cracks because they are not signed up on LinkedIn. Therefore, to stay competitive and reach early adopters of new technologies, a recruiting firm must anticipate where the journey is headed. “LinkedIn has already taken over some of the functions that Facebook used to fulfill. People are also sharing more personal updates and interacting with personal acquaintances.” So, according to Karlsson, a new network that is more distinct from any “private” social networks might emerge in the near future. Such a network would be the place to look for promising executives in the future. “These are precisely the developments we need to help shape, not merely react to.”

The consulting process is becoming more transparent – and starts earlier

Karlsson sees the increasing technologization of the recruiting market as an opportunity for executive search firms to advise their clients in greater detail on other parts of the process  that are not “purely transactional”. A consultant should at least anticipate if not initiate a client’s expansion activities. This includes questioning established assumptions that clients might have and also bringing less obvious candidates into the mix. These might for example not currently be working at a competing firm in exactly the same position that you are looking to fill. Discovering young talent and lateral entrants who take unexpected paths is part of that evolution, he says. “We as recruiters need to be more active in helping the clients in their decision making process by providing insights and data – qualitative as well as quantitative –before we start a search or even advise them against a traditional search and instead to go for an acquisition of a company and then support them in the due diligence process.” Although large companies and corporations already have insight departments that work with extensive quantities of data, Karlsson foresees a greater focus on quantitative data for executive search, looking not only at the individual and more at big trends and developments. “This will allow us to approach companies – especially mid-sized companies – directly and to anticipate their needs as part of our services.”

Entrepreneurs and startups in particular demand flexibility from recruiters

Karlsson specifically emphasizes the importance of flexibility when working with entrepreneurs and the startup sector. This concerns established fee structures in particular. “It’s not about pushing a ‘cut-rate’ approach, but developing flexible fee structures that reflect the reality of young, agile companies.” For example, a combination of cash and equity compensation could be a feasible model.” Traditional benchmarks that might work for large corporations cannot not be applied to startups in the same way. The advantage of an international network like InterSearch, Karlsson emphasizes, is not least the opportunity of cooperatively developing innovative approaches and learning from partners in other countries. “I’m excited about what our Indian colleagues are doing, for example, they are real entrepreneurs. I’m definitely closer to them in this aspect than to some companies here in Sweden.”

Klas Karlsson
InterSearch Sweden

Klas Karlsson is the founder and CEO of Swedish executive search firm Talentia AB. The company has been focused on proactive recruiting in the Swedish executive search market since 1999 and has offices in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Talentia AB has been a member of the global InterSearch network since 2015 and is leading the global Practice Start-up. Scale-up, Venture Capital & Innovation

#KlasKarlsson, Executive Search, global executive search, InterSearch, Intersearch Germany, InterSearch Worldwide, interview

Shopping after the crisis: omnichannel management remains in demand

The corona pandemic has changed the shopping behaviour of Germans – for both non-food and food. You shop more online, pay less often in cash and you like to have everything delivered to your home – this is how the trends can be summarized. But despite this change accelerated by the pandemic, Germany is lagging behind compared to other European countries, as Heinz Leopold, client partner at InterSearch Executive Consultants GmbH in Hamburg, explains.

Although 47 percent of Germans state that their shopping habits have changed due to the pandemic, this is below average in an international comparison. This is shown by the data in the current “FMCG Report” by the polling institute YouGov. In eleven of the 17 European countries examined, more than half of consumers say that their behavior is different. The international average is even 59 percent.

 

Online commerce is growing

Current data from the online monitor of the German Retail Association (HDE) make it clear that “Click & Collect”, i.e. the collection of goods that have been pre-ordered online or by phone, is becoming more important. At the same time, the sales of stationary retailers from the sale of goods via online marketplaces increased. 45 percent of stationary retailers are now also represented on the Internet, but not always with their own shop; they also join sales platforms.

 

Experience before a pure transaction

Online sales will continue to increase”, predicts Leopold. What must be offered in retail in city centres, on the other hand, is a shopping experience, not just the shopping itself. “People like to be around people, they want to examine the products themselves before they buy.” Their own assessment always means more than the widely available online reviews. Do stationary retail in the city centres define itself only through the price, be it not to convey why consumers should go shopping in the city centres.

In today’s retail trade, the on-site shopping experience goes far beyond the mere purchase transaction, according to Leopold – especially when retailers offer an e-commerce shopping option. This applies to all ways of reaching and interacting with customers. “The shopping experience is a critical and differentiating component of retail today and in the future” says Leopold.

While the traditional shopping experience focused on how customers interacted with and felt about the business and the brand, today’s shopping experience must convey exactly the opposite, according to Leopold: The focus should be a customer-oriented omnichannel strategy that addresses the customer and their different expectations focus on the sales channels available to him in parallel.

 

The omnichannel manager is the key to success

Ideally, an omnichannel manager ensures that customers can experience the same language of the company on all channels across all platforms. The sales channels relevant to the company must be optimized in this context, not only to further boost sales, but also to create a comprehensive brand experience. Such experts also take on the strategic planning, management and control of all sales activities and the responsible employees.

However, these are still rare skills, which is why we are specifically looking for people with these skills on behalf of our customers” explains Leopold. Most suitable candidates have already been active in channel management or sales marketing. “The best thing is an experience in both areas in order to manage the holistic customer and brand experience in all channels as omnichannel manager in the future” says Leopold.

Heinz LeopoldInterSearch Germany, member of the InterSearch Worldwide Consumer Global Practice

The members of InterSearch Worldwide successfully partner with 250+ companies in the Consumer sector. Contact the Practice leader in the region where your business needs top talent: https://intersearch.org/expertise/fmcg/

 

e-commerce, Executive Search, industry insights, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide, online shopping

How to competently strengthen the Board of Directors?

To be complete and to add value to the company, the Board of Directors must include several independent directors. Therefore, when we talk about search, we mean search from outside, and not within the organization. The more independent directors there are, the more benefits the Board brings to the business.

There’s a paradox: there are many candidates wishing to be elected to the Board of Directors, but when you start getting to know the candidates, only a few remain. This is partly due to high requirements. But it is much more important that only a few understand what kind of work it is and are ready to get involved in the process itself.

To begin with, let’s list the basic requirements for the Board composition.

Digital competencies. A modern Board of Directors must have a professional “skilled in IT and digital”.

Knowledge of the e-commerce market and marketplaces. Even companies that previously had a very indirect relationship to the consumer market are now looking for strategists who understand what e-commerce is.

Flexibility and speed. Making decisions in a situation of uncertainty and instability is the task of any leader on the Board.

Experience. As a rule, you need managers who run a business of the same or larger size. Another fundamental point is the experience of each director in different industries and different companies.

Basic competencies of a manager. Of course, the key competencies are strategic thinking, understanding long-term consequences, stress resistance. A candidate for the Board of Directors is required to have a balance: on the one hand, the ability to make other people hear you; on the other, listen to others and be able to negotiate. And of course, the talent to motivate.

How to find such people and make the right choice?

 

Monitor successful cases, select according to the task facing the business, do not be afraid to change people on the Board more often. If a company undertakes an IPO, the Board definitely needs a CFO who has recently led such a process. Is the key goal of the company digital transformation? List companies of comparable size that have implemented a digitalization project, review their Boards of Directors. If there is no BoD, look at the CEO, Strategy Director, or business owner.

Look in other industries. If a Russian company is faced with the task of creating a new marketing strategy and strengthening the Board with a Head of Strategic Product Promotion, then the best candidates are from international FMCG corporations or Russian tech giants. But back to the first point: look at the companies that have done similar projects, and at the specific people who have implemented this and who have proven experience and practice.

The diversity principle works great for the Board of Directors: the more people with different views on the problem and different experiences there are on the Board, the more effective the body is. The Boards don’t need like-minded people who agree with each other.

Estimate the real-time the candidate is willing to spend on you. The main stereotype that we face is: “You get a lot of money, you spend several hours a year at meetings, you don’t really need to do anything.” In fact, every Board meeting requires hours of preparation, metrics analysis, digging in numbers, and some serious diving.

 

Ask the candidate the right questions right away:

1. “Why do you want to serve on the Board?”
Correct answer: “I am interested to participate in the strategy to move the company forward and apply my knowledge”.
2. “How much time are you willing to spend?”
If a person says that 4 meetings a year are 10 hours of his/her time, then this is not your person.

Be sure to evaluate. Flexibility, strategic thinking, stress resistance, leadership are excellently assessed by professional methods, primarily the Hogan and Talent Q questionnaires. The assessment and recommendations of other colleagues in the market should be a mandatory stage of selection to the Boards, which are still formed on the basis of acquaintance and friendship.

Look for the successful and wealthy. As practice shows, people who have already achieved financial well-being and have proven everything to themselves are ready for real outputs. They have a completely different motivation: they go to the Board not for the sake of money, but in order to apply their accumulated experience and knowledge and expand their horizons.

By Marina Tarnopolskaya, Managing Partner at Kontakt InterSearch Russia

 

Directors, Executive Search, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide, russia

Matching top FP&A talent with organizational needs

One senior leader at a global private equity firm once admitted to us that the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) in its portfolio companies was a disaster. He went on to explain that he and his firm-level colleagues were frequently swooping in to patch things up before eventually seeing the same problems crop up a month later.

 Who can blame him? Finding the right talent is incredibly challenging, given the fast-paced marketplace and often-inadequate systems which do not fully enable the necessary extraction of information for FP&A professionals to properly perform the functions of their roles.

 Meeting your team’s FP&A needs is one of the most difficult yet important responsibilities in every organization. Even more challenging? There is no template on how exactly to address those needs. Variables include the size of the business; where the business exists in its life cycle; the types of products produced and / or services offered (B2B vs. B2C); and the general needs of the organization.

Understandably, those general needs have evolved over the years as companies sometimes struggle to keep up. To help, we have identified three types of FP&A pros:

Traditional

This is how FP&A has always been considered, but don’t mistake “traditional” for outdated. Many companies still need a CPA who comes from the Big Four Public Accounting Firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC) and has a structured accounting background. This professional is needed to create spreadsheets and run macros to produce trend analysis, variance analysis and price-volume mix analysis. They essentially plan, monitor and report on revenue and expenses.

None of this seems cutting edge, but adequately satisfying those needs will result in meeting FP&A requirements in many companies. Businesses which are more mature and don’t have that “hockey-stick growth” don’t need a complex FP&A skill set, so a more traditional solution may be the most appropriate.

Modern

This is where most Charles Aris clients are today. Modern FP&A leaders not only have an accounting background (CPA) but a well-rounded business view (MBA) as well. They leverage more analytics and business intelligence technologies to provide quantitative / analytical support to decision-making. The modern approach takes the collective view of what needs to be done from a planning and analysis standpoint at the corporate level and incorporates each of the different business units.

Cutting edge

This individual has all the skill sets mentioned above and then some. In addition to being a CPA and MBA, the ideal professional is a computer and data scientist who leverages technology to create real-time analytics and dashboards and provides integrated and collaborative planning that spans the entire organization.

Conclusion

Finding the perfect FP&A candidate differs depending on the needs of each client organization. As the aforementioned private equity executive shared with us, matching the proper pool of talent with the right organization is a difficult task, but it can be done with expertise and experience behind the wheel.

 

by Ryan Morgan and David Portney

Charles Aris Inc.

 

charles aris, Executive Search, InterSearch, Top Talent

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