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REIMAGINE SEARCH

WHY THE VALUE OF EXECUTIVE SEARCH
IS FADING

PART II

WHY 'SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL': THE FORGOTTEN VALUE
OF RESEARCH 

25 November 2023

The search industry has evolved from a ‘rolodex’ to internal silos and barriers reflecting the same known candidates in a respective region, sector or function. In days gone by, Partners used the rolodex to approach candidates, but today they are primarily tasked with originating new searches. As a result, research is now seen as a ‘cost block’ rather than bringing value and so the research function in most big firms are highly leveraged with junior staff

In parallel, the world has moved on with around a quarter of CEOs of the largest 50 companies in the US born outside the US, and in Europe this figure tops 42%. The world is demanding more diversity and if anything, the need for thorough and fresh research has never been greater.

The cornerstone to successful delivery of a search is Research. However, in most large search firms, the research function tends to be viewed as a ‘steppingstone’ and inferior to the role of the fee-generating Partner. It is seldom considered as a career path in its own right, and so expert ‘career’ researchers are usually a rarity. Invariably, once a mandate for a search has been won, it is passed from Partner-level to a largely junior research team to deliver who are mostly inexperienced and under considerable pressure to deliver on multiple mandates. Under such constraints, junior research teams are mostly reliant on in-house databases.

Gain competitive advantage by exploring talent beyond 'Usual Suspects'

Previously, a bigger database suggested that the firm was well connected, and therefore the larger the firm and the larger the database, the more value the search firm brought to their clients. However, a search firm’s database should no longer be considered as one of its most prized assets. Indeed, in many cases it can be an obstacle, steering a search to focus on largely ‘known’ candidates with poor coverage of the wider market and the absence of ‘lateral candidates’.

 

Our approach to research is different. We undertake a fresh and unconstrained approach on our searches and leadership succession initiatives, utilising a global network of networks:

  • We take a consultative approach to better understand our clients’ desired business outcomes: this dramatically sharpens the sourcing strategy as well as the value proposition to approach the most desired talent

  • Instead of a global network of local offices which paradoxically creates silos and internal barriers to candidate access with local offices ‘claiming’ candidates as their own, we have no such constraints with an inherent global outlook and global outreach capability

  • Rather than passing searches onto a junior research team to deliver, every search we undertake is led by a senior team including our CEO, with our research function led by a Partner-level career researcher who has over 20 years’ experience

  • As a boutique firm, we only work with clients exclusively in their sector to ensure full access to the market with no off-limits allowing for an unconstrained ‘bottom-up’ approach. We also take a ‘top-down’ approach, utilizing our global network to create a network of networks

  • Rather than individual researchers typically working on a minimum of eight search mandates at any given point, we purposefully work on fewer mandates of no more than three at any one time. This allows us to:

- Deliver at speed and with an agile approach

- Take the time to offer real candidate insight from sources rather than           theoretical assessments that are of little value

- Time to truly partner with our clients and consequently able to build and     deliver on bespoke research services

  • Rather than relying on out-of-date internal databases, we leverage external databases as well as other social media platforms and search engines. This enables us to deliver:

- Diverse range of candidates including lateral ideas

- Comprehensive coverage of the market, leaving 'no stones' unturned

We are committed to listening to our clients and deliver sustained value. The Executive Search industry is clearly prime for disruption, and we are proud to take the lead

REIMAGINE SEARCH
PART I


FUTURE PROOFING
BY FOCUSING
ON BUSINESS OUTCOMES

12 February 2023

While listening to clients we were told that the search industry is becoming increasingly commoditized and seldom adds value. This was also the conclusion from a Harvard Business Review article [1] that cites that only one out of five externally hired executives are viewed as ‘high performers’ at the end of their first year. A similar conclusion from a McKinsey article [2] states that almost half of external hires are regarded as failures or disappointments after two years.

In most cases, the failures are attributed to the lack of ‘cultural fit’. That is certainly a cause in some situations despite the use of increasingly sophisticated assessment products. In some cases this is probably also related to the fact that a number of organizations are not aware of, or open about, their own ‘real’ culture.

However, in our view, the main reason for failure with external searches is the lack of understanding and alignment of the required business outcomes for the role going forward.

Most traditional search firms are happy to accept a short briefing from the CHRO and/or the CEO and then ‘cut & paste’ an existing Position Document so that they can go to market quickly.

Whilst such an approach covers the typical requirements for a CEO position and other functional roles, it is one which we strongly disagree with, as we believe the key success factor for most projects is a crystal clear and aligned view on the desired business outcomes.

We, therefore, embark on our searches and leadership succession initiatives with a consultative approach to obtain a profound understanding of the desired business outcomes including sector dynamics, business challenges to be addressed for successful strategy execution, the wider team dynamics and stakeholder alignment. 

Although our approach is initially time consuming for both our clients and us, we both benefit substantially:

  • Rather than an extensive list of boilerplate requirements, we gain a clear understanding of the desired business outcomes that really matter and the actual meaning of the requirements. This will ensure perfectly aligned business and human capital strategies to create value

  • Rather than singular input on requirements, we capture the value of diverse views from multiple stakeholders before looking into capabilities and seek full alignment on what we will be looking for

  • Rather than only understanding the requirements for a specific role and getting a simple snapshot of the culture, we gain an appreciation of the team dynamics. In many cases we also benchmark the organizational design for specific roles with high-performance organizations

  • Rather than a standard ‘cut & paste’ job description with company information from the website and a long laundry list of standard requirements, we develop a highly compelling Position Brief not only describing the company and key requirements, but also the specific sector dynamics and how the chosen candidate will add strategic value. The latter is often a determining factor to get the most desired candidates to the table. In our experience, this has also contributed to our outstanding track record of placing diversity candidates

  • Rather than looking for more of the same within the sector, the desired business outcomes will take the candidate sourcing strategy to a different level and not limit the approaches to the ‘usual suspects.’ Not only will that ensure we get candidates who can deliver on the desired business outcomes but expand the talent pool to include lateral and diversity candidates significantly

  • Rather than ‘mathematically’ matching candidates with a long list of ‘boilerplate’ requirements and as a side-effect, eliminating great candidates with some imperfections, the desired business outcomes will make it easier to evaluate candidates on what really matters 

Whilst we feel strongly about reimagining search, it also comes with the necessity to deliver on such a promise. We believe we are uniquely positioned to do so given:

  • A highly successful pre-search career in consulting working with some of the world’s most successful organizations on transforming their businesses

  • A personal experience of working not only in senior executive roles but also as a Non-Executive for listed corporations enables us to appreciate the views from both the executive and non-executive management

  • A strong affinity for how technology will continue to accelerate business transformations for years to come through an entire career working closely to both ‘large tech’ and the current wave of thrilling entrepreneurial start-ups disrupting most sectors

[1] Martin, J ‘For Senior Leaders, Fit Matters More than Skill.

https://hbr.org/2014/01/for-senior-leaders-fit-matters-more-than-skill

[2] Keller, S & Meaney, M ‘Successfully transitioning to new leadership roles’. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/successfully-transitioning-to-new-leadership-roles

About Board and Technology

Board and Technology is a purpose driven Talent Strategy and executive search firm committed to optimize the alignment of business and talent strategies for sustainable value creation. They have, collectively, some 30 years working globally at the highest level of Executive Search across a spectrum of sectors, functions and geographies for some of the world’s most prominent organizations. 

BOARD AND TECHNOLOGY STRENGTHENS ITS U.S. PRESENCE BY APPOINTING TOBY REDHAW AS SENIOR ADVISOR

Board and Technology, a global high-end talent strategy and executive firm, today announces the appointment of Toby Redshaw as Senior Advisor.

Olof Pripp, Founder & CEO of Board and Technology said:

 

“Our global footprint is expanding rapidly, and we are increasingly retained to address talent management challenges around innovation and disruption. Toby is one of the most tech savvy disruptors in the world and he will no doubt play an important role taking our firm to yet another level."

29 June 2021

Toby Redshaw, CEO of Verus Advisory commented:

 

“Technology enabled disruptive business innovation will be the most important form of differentiation and value creation for many years to come. Few, if any, firms are better positioned to address that from a talent management perspective than Board and Technology.”

 

Toby Redshaw is an advisor to many world class organizations including Stanford University’s Digital Cities and Global Project Center. Following a successful executive career holding Group Chief Information Officer roles for corporations such as Aviva and American Express, he recently retired from Verizon where he was responsible for Enterprise Innovation and 5G Solutions.

 

About Board and Technology

Board and Technology is a purpose driven Talent Strategy and executive search firm committed to optimize the alignment of business and talent strategies for sustainable value creation. They have, collectively, some 30 years working globally at the highest level of Executive Search across a spectrum of sectors, functions and geographies for some of the world’s most prominent organizations. 

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CHAIRMAN OF ROOSEVELT GLOBAL FIDUCIARY GOVERNANCE LLC, TED MALLOCH JOINS BOARD AND TECHNOLOGY AS A SENIOR ADVISOR

Board and Technology Sàrl, a global high-end talent strategy and executive firm, today announces the appointment of Ted Malloch as Senior Advisor.

Olof Pripp, Founder & CEO of Board and Technology said:

 

“At no point in time has corporate governance excellence been more instrumental in the creation of shareholder value. Ted brings a wealth of international governance experience from leading academic research institutes such as Yale and Saïd Business School (Oxford), international organizations such as the World Economic Forum and as a Senior Advisor to a number of Chairmen of global corporations and family businesses across the world.”

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7 February 2021

Ted Malloch, Chairman of Roosevelt Global Fiduciary Governance LLC commented:

 

“The timing of Board and Technology’s approach to reimagine Executive Search is impeccable. Olof’s ability to blend business insight with the highest standards of modern governance will no doubt be in high demand across the globe.”

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About Ted Malloch

 

Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Malloch is Chairman and CEO of Roosevelt Global Fiduciary Governance LLC, a leading strategy thought leadership company. Ted conceptualizes and executes some of today’s most dynamic international projects. He has previously served in the U.S. State Department and on the Executive Board of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Beyond numerous speeches and research articles, he has written a number of books on leadership, purpose-driven organizations and ethics.  Most recently he co-authored ‘Service Leadership’ with Richard Goossen, Director of Entrepreneurial Leaders Institute, Oxford and ‘Common Sense Business’, co-authored with Whitney MacMillan, former Chairman and CEO of Cargill.

About Board and Technology

 

Board and Technology is a purpose driven Talent Strategy and executive search firm committed to optimize the alignment of business and talent strategies for sustainable value creation. They have, collectively, some 30 years working globally at the highest level of Executive Search across a spectrum of sectors, functions and geographies for some of the world’s most prominent organizations. 

BOARD AND TECHNOLOGY BECOMES 'INDUSTRY FIRST' TO MAKE ITS CLIENTS' CSR/ESG COMMITMENTS MANDATORY IN POSITION BRIEFS AND CALLS FOR A GLOBAL STANDARD TO BE ADOPTED BY THE EXECUTIVE SEARCH INDUSTRY

Board and Technology Sarl, a global high-end talent strategy and executive firm, today announces its pledge to the Terra Carta charter. Inspired by the HRH Prince of Wales and the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Market Initiative, they will adopt a ‘future of industry’ and ‘future of economy’ approach.
 

Engaging with key clients across global industry to find and select industry leaders of tomorrow, Board and Technology are embedding Sustainability and the Environmental Social Governance (ESG) agenda at its core. Their client’s commitment to Sustainability and ESG will now be a mandatory and integral part of their Position Briefs for prospective future leaders and candidates will be assessed accordingly.

At no point in time has such an initiative been more important and Board and Technology Founder and CEO, Olof Pripp, is now calling for a global standard to be adopted by the Executive Search industry that puts sustainability at the heart of appointing future leaders who are committed to the successful implementation of this initiative for generations to come.

Dr Anil Menon, a Strategic Advisor to Board and Technology, former Member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum, and Senior Advisor to HRH Prince of Wales on Sustainable Markets, states:

24 January 2021

“ Board and Technology’s initiative is a historic breakthrough as more than 180 CEOs signed onto a Business Roundtable (BRT) statement that corporations should commit to serving the interests of all stakeholders and to ‘protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.’  Under the terms of the BRT statement, environmental, sustainability and social concerns should play a major role in corporate decision-making.  According to Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics are the way to measure the seriousness of the BRT statement and commitment of firms to the declaration.  We, at Board and Technology, strongly agree with BRT and Professor Schwab and have decided to focus its practice to center on firms that are sincerely committed to and working towards adopting and leading on ESG metrics ”

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“ The ESG (Environmental Social Governance) agenda is more important than ever, and as it is so aligned to our own purpose and values, we will now make it a mandatory consideration when working with our clients, the industry leaders of today, and with candidates, the industry leaders of tomorrow. Only by ensuring that future leaders are committed to the ESG agenda will we make this aspiration a reality ”

Olof Pripp, Founder & CEO of Board and Technology said:

About Board and Technology

 

Board and Technology is a purpose driven Talent Strategy and executive search firm committed to optimize the alignment of business and talent strategies for sustainable value creation. They have, collectively, some 30 years working globally at the highest level of Executive Search across a spectrum of sectors, functions and geographies for some of the world’s most prominent organizations. 

10 January 2021

CHAIRMAN OF ALPHA BANK, MARK AUSTEN JOINS BOARD AND TECHNOLOGY AS SENIOR ADVISOR

Board and Technology a global high-end talent strategy and executive firm, announced today the appointment of Mark Austen as a Senior Advisor.

Olof Pripp, Founder & CEO of Board and Technology said:

“ We are incredibly privileged to have Mark join our network of Senior Advisors. Mark has successfully led the global financial services practice of PwC, and more recently, has had a distinguished career as a Chairman, Non-Executive Director and Mentor. His wise counsel combined with unchallenged values and integrity will bring tremendous value to our firm ”

Mark Austen, Chairman of Alpha Bank PLC commented:

“ Board and Technology fills a very important gap that has been omitted by many of the larger search firms particularly in supporting the most senior appointments where technology is fundamental for success. Olof’s consultative approach working internationally at the very highest level "

Mark spent his career in professional and financial services managing Price Waterhouse’s (latterly PwC) financial services’ consulting business globally and was elected to the Global Board in 2000 and had a major role in effecting the sale of the consulting business to IBM. He advised a large number of institutions especially on strategy and development and has written and presented extensively. Since leaving IBM, he has contributed to a number of boards both commercial and charitable. These have included serving as Chairman of LV=, a major UK insurance company, non-executive Director of Temenos AG, a global financial software vendor, and non-executive director of Mott Macdonald, a leading consulting engineering firm. He is currently Chairman of Alpha Bank PLC and a major UK charity.

About Board and Technology

Board and Technology is a purpose driven Talent Strategy firm committed to optimize the alignment of business and talent strategies for sustainable value creation. They have, collectively, some 30 years working globally at the highest level of Executive Search across a spectrum of sectors, functions and geographies for some of the world’s most prominent organizations.

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