Managing partner of Kontakt InterSearch Russia, Marina Tarnopolskaya talks about what mistakes owners make when looking for a CEO and what to do to prevent them.
Managing partner of Kontakt InterSearch Russia, Marina Tarnopolskaya talks about what mistakes owners make when looking for a CEO and what to do to prevent them.
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.
Working with tops, more and more often we are confronted with a request: “Here I have reached the position of General / Commercial / HR Director, settled into that role and completed all the tasks – and that’s all, ceiling. I don’t understand what to do next.”
And they start asking questions: “Who am I? Why am I doing this? Am I in the right company? Maybe it’s time to change jobs? If so, where to go? And how not to lose or to regain a foothold? “.
Make a stop. The first piece of advice: stop and think about what your apathy and anxiety are really related to. What drove you to burnout, and is this really the maximum you are experiencing?
Professional coaches often help to get out of this state. Through dialogue, they can expand your picture of the world and look at your condition and problems in a different way (it may turn out that there is a great influence of your life outside the working path). Today, many successful top managers start working with coaches and career consultants long before the moment of burnout or the question of changing jobs comes. They work out their goals, dreams, write down their track and move along it in stages.
What is the next point?
Learn and learn again. Not so long ago, we conducted a study among owners and CEOs, who at one time decided to restart their careers and chose a new path of development. And we once again confirmed the assumption that those who do not stand still and are not afraid to sacrifice comfort for the sake of development, achieve success. You have to learn a lot to make a career change. Therefore, those top managers who support the lifelong learning trend, reveal their educational potential, study new approaches and technologies, achieve significant results and make the “reset” easier.
Top success factors from Owners and CEOs who restarted careers
34% Education, business schools
33% Network of colleagues and executive search companies
21% Support from loved ones
19% Financial cushion
14% Communication with a mentor / coach
Prioritize. Our survey confirmed that top managers often have to sacrifice certain things – comfort, income level, status, but in the end, no one regrets the choice they made, rather than the decision was not made in a timely manner.
42% of CEOs make a decision to leave within more than 2 years
So, think about what is more important to you now? Often, when leaving the CEO position (especially with a good income at the current place) into a new direction or own business, income decreases, and it can be restored only after 4-5 years. But at the same time, other important things of value are achieved: self-realization in a new business, recognition, drive from new tasks and disclosure of one’s potential.
So, ask yourself the question: Am I wasting my time? Maybe it’s time to make up your mind now and not put off until tomorrow?
Choose a further track for yourself. The experience of top managers who have gone through a career restart makes it clear that it is not enough to be open to new opportunities, you need to actively look for them and not be afraid to make decisions about changes.
This can be, for example, a transition to a larger company (and most top managers choose this path), or a vertical transition in the current company, or a transition to another industry. You can try yourself in interim projects or take part in the Board of Directors, which will also provide an opportunity to develop strategic skills, enrich your knowledge and experience, and draw new ideas. Another option is to start your own business. Risk? Yes. But when to try, if not now? After all, a crisis is the moment when the market is being rebuilt and there is an opportunity to come out with a new product that will satisfy new needs.
Most believe that now, during the pandemic and crisis, is not the best time to change jobs. But there are segments that continue to actively develop, for example, food retail, e-commerce, medicine, hi-tech and fintech, and it is normal practice to move from segment to segment, as well as to attract people with entrepreneurial experience to the team.
And remember: no matter where you are, only an engaged leader who is doing something that gives him energy and drive, can motivate the team and move the company to new achievements!
Personally, changes are not easy for me – I have been working in the same business for more than 20 years, living in the same city, happily married to my former classmate. But I believe that every crisis is a time of new opportunities, it is important to discern them as soon as possible and take a step towards them.
The year of 2020, of course, will be remembered by many: we are all faced with challenges never seen before. And thanks to this, the rate of change in many areas of our life has increased significantly. We jumped into a new world at once still not realizing the scale of what happened.
In recruitment and in labor relations in general, the changes cannot be overestimated.
It has been found that remote work is possible and even effective for a huge category of employees. It has become clear that we can hire new people to teams and even new leaders, adapt and teach them, without ever meeting face to face. Last year, all of my clients were extremely skeptical about the possibilities of online interviews.
I’ve heard the phrase “our CEO doesn’t do Skype interviews” a thousand times. And today the best companies conduct not only all stages of interviews, but also assessment centers online. And this does not surprise anyone.
The geography of searches is expanding. Previously, we almost always looked for candidates from Moscow for positions in Moscow. Sometimes clients agreed to candidates ready for relocation, but reluctantly and only when there were clearly not enough Moscow candidates, or it was necessary to save money. Still, there were so many additional difficulties: the candidate must come for an interview more than once, then, if successful, move him-/herself and move the family. This approach is so ingrained that even for a position that implies spending 90% of the time on business trips or relocation to the Amur Region after a year of work in Moscow, we still looked at Muscovites.
Today this has already changed, the blinkers have fallen, and the geography of search has expanded. And believe me, it is much easier to find a project manager among the residents of Tyumen (Siberia) who is ready to work in the capital for a year, and then another 2 years at the construction site of a major petrochemical enterprise than among Muscovites.
Another trend is part-time employment and fixed-term contracts. In a number of industries, due to the difficult economic situation, employees and managers were transferred not only to remote work, but also to part-time work in order to reduce costs. They have free time, and they have started to offer their expertise in the labor market. More and more often, I meet experienced professionals who, in response to a headhunter’s call, say that they are not ready to completely change jobs, but will be happy to complete a project for my client under a fixed-term part-time employment contract. The best of them are almost immediately ready to send a presentation with examples of completed projects and the team they are ready to involve.
In the future, such mosaic employment will continue, and employers will learn to formulate project objectives and positions more clearly in order to successfully attract professionals who are able to solve these local problems.
The HR brand and the quality of communication with potential candidates – candidate’s experience – are becoming even more important. Candidates no longer come to our office for interviews and do not have the opportunity to admire the monumentality or, on the contrary, the informality of our interiors. Ping-pong tables or silver spoons in a meeting room don’t impress anyone anymore. What is left? What shapes the candidates’ perception of the company?
First of all, the quality of communication at all stages of the interview. Timely information and quality of feedback. Our openness and directness. Transparency and clarity of wording.
The old model of communication with candidates in the style of “there are many of you, but only one me” no longer works. To attract strong candidates early in the interview, it is important to involve brand ambassadors – key company executives who can become a role model for candidates.
We all have yet to learn this, I see great opportunities for a breakthrough in this area.
By Olga Sabinina, Partner at Kontakt InterSearch Russia
Kontakt InterSearch, the official representative of InterSearch in Russia, celebrates its 30th anniversary and is pleased to share this holiday with its international colleagues and clients.
Over the past 30 years, the company has come a long way: from a small agency to a self-confident business that works with the largest market players and offers a full range of HR services. During this time, Kontakt InterSearch Russia has implemented over 6,000 executive search projects, including closing 250+ CEO and board member positions.
Two dates are especially significant in the company’s history: obtaining the status of an exclusive InterSearch representative in 2006 and the status of Shareholder in 2013. The merger with InterSearch allowed the company to enter a completely different stage of development, gain experience in project management on a global level, and build up expertise in new industries.
Kontakt InterSearch Russia continues to actively move forward: over the past six months, the portfolio has been replenished with several new services at once (outplacement, interim management, career consulting for top managers), and the company has entered the Kazakhstan market. The system of partnership in management allows maintaining the stability of development: now strategic decisions are made by 6 partners, the company has adopted a transparent KPI system, after which any employee can become a new partner. The team has over 30 consultants who are provided with special training programs.
“Throughout our history, we have experienced more than one local and international crisis, but each time we got stronger and opened up other opportunities. Therefore, in the year of our 30th anniversary, which coincided with a new crisis, we do not get upset, but are looking for effective solutions and setting new ambitious goals. In our 30th year, we are still delighted to be part of the international InterSearch team” comments Yulia Zabazarnykh, Partner at Kontakt InterSearch Russia.
“I think one of the recipes for success is to support each other and regularly exchange experiences with each other. We are glad that every year our cooperation with InterSearch is becoming closer and more productive. We say a huge thank you to all our colleagues for the partnership and we will be pleased to host everyone in the Moscow global conference in two years when it becomes possible” adds Daria Tulubenskaya, Partner of Kontakt InterSearch Russia.
“I consider our cooperation with Kontakt as a great asset for our organization and our international clients for almost 15 years. Their growth went hand in hand with InterSearch worldwide and we are confident will further continue with the same enthusiasm in the future” says Frank Schelstraete, Chairman of InterSearch Worldwide
It is customary to strike the balance during an anniversary, and Kontakt InterSearch Russia decided to do it as informally and fun as possible by filming a short video:
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