The FINANCIAL — Finance positions, management change specialists and operations managers are the job positions most demanded by companies worldwide in the post crisis period, according to Mr. Ulrik Rasmussen, Partner in charge of Western Europe at Pedersen & Partners.
According to Mr. Rasmussen, emerging market experience, a university degree and knowledge of the English language are essential for getting a job and are at the top of the list of requirements from potential employers.
“At the end of the day nothing will replace the importance of experience and having worked in this environment during recessions. Education is important but not the only thing one will look at during the recruitment process,” Mr. Rasmussen explained.
Pedersen & Partners is a leading international executive search firm with 44 wholly owned offices operating in 41 countries. With broad international coverage, the firm provides its clients with access to a global pool of high-calibre executives and the cross-sector expertise of its consultants.
According to Mr. Rasmussen an excess of a million executives are registered in the database of the company. Over the decade of its operations, the company has helped hundreds of clients to recruit senior executives and management teams. “Organisations need to carefully consider the time frame for a recruitment project. In our recruitment process average placement period is 4-6 weeks. This is the time taken to identify, shortlist, interview and hire a candidate. However, after the individual is placed it takes 4-5 months time, in senior positions it’s up to six months, for an executive to actually start, due to, for example, terms of notice period,” Mr. Rasmussen said.
“Today turnaround and change of management are very high in the agendas of many companies. Many of the managers who have been around in the companies and have done the job for many years are 45-50 plus now, have seen and tried a lot in turning around businesses. If we went back to many of these guys when they were 20, they did not have undergrad, master or PhD degrees. At that time having an undergrad was a big enough deal. However they have work experience and can ‘smell’ the particularities of their industry. They know how to manage and build a team. Consequently, the requirements for many senior executives are not necessarily tied to certain degrees.
As for languages, English is at the top of the list every single time. According to nationality, Germans and Austrians are always keen on one being able to speak the German language.
It’s very important to have work experience in emerging markets. If you take an executive from London or the States that has never worked outside those markets before, it does not work well if they go to Bulgaria or Ukraine for the first time, and expect processes, procedures, policies and templates to be the same.
There are different expectations and requirements of the Western individuals within organizations; it’s rather tough going for the first time to the emerging markets. An individual might certainly work well in the United Kingdom, but this does not mean they will be successful in Georgia, for example. Therefore emerging market experience and university degrees are essential. Some of our clients put MBA or Executive MBA in their wish lists, but it’s not a must. They will hire the best person for the job.”
The most popular job positions and companies for executives
“Many job positions are typically for finance positions today. First of all due to liquidity problems, many companies are low in cash, all are talking of a change of management and are going through cost cutting, looking at resource optimization.
Previously in high growth markets where the margins were massive no one looked into details but looked at the volumes of money made. Today it’s once again a fierce market. We have to go and learn how to operate in mature markets. But in mature markets you have to extract a lot of information, you have third party consultancies providing market information and challenges, which you do not find in emerging markets.
Many of our clients have been keen on high level finance positions, controllers, finance managers and CFOs for generating additional financing and for implementing control procedures for financial departments. The situation is quite difficult today as emerging markets are very young, many financial professionals who are familiar with off-shore financing and dealing with off-shore accounts do not have that experience.
Today we rely on the young generation who might be 35.
“Many of our clients have been keen on high financial professions, controllers, finance managers and CFOs for generating additional financing and for implementing control procedures for financial departments.”
The dream companies among executives are always the multinational organizations like Coca-Cola and Philip Morris. Blue chip companies are always at the top of their agenda. However, on the other side, small companies may allow higher commissions as there are no salary brackets. So working with small organizations one may earn more money and grow faster within the organization.”
Hiring activity worldwide
“The demand for executives is very different for different countries. We are today the emerging markets expert that has moved to mature markets. We have entered UK, and we have an office in Germany and Austria. However, we are predominantly emerging market experts, and of course there is a degree of maturity within these countries, which is driving the number of assignments we do.
In Kazakhstan there is huge potential and we are performing quite well there. Many of our clients are active, keen on entering or improving their current organization in Kazakhstan. However, the countries like Moldova, Romania, Macedonia, smaller markets and economies are not really essential for many of our clients to scale or improve the performance as investments are rather small.
We are doing rather well in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and also neighbouring countries. Moreover, we are doing generally well in recruiting in some of the smaller markets. It’s not a priority for the average client now to change the organization due to the scale of the economy.”
The key characteristics of CEOs
“The key characteristics of CEOs are probably growth potential and trying something new. Many these days have earned good money so that’s not the main driver. It’s about a new challenge, not necessarily running bigger P&L. These individuals would like to arrive at a new business to try and learn new things, and I think this is key – the new challenge. It is also important to get a salary increase but to be honest this is not the main driver in taking a job. However, when there are big positions available in the market with giant conglomerates, most guys would like to work for the big players for the recognition aspect.”
“We saw outsourced HR departments in the pre-crisis period. During the recession people were laid off or were moved to different departments but still performing the same task. Many of the companies in the post crisis period have put those individuals back to work to keep the expertise.
I think HR professionals are vital for an organization. Other executives are not going in-depth, building the payroll and duties of the HR department. We obviously understand the importance of HR which includes building a sustainable long term organization, all kinds of challenge management, retention tools and supporting an organization’s development.
In emerging markets HR positions have been taken rather lightly and not considered a very important position. In the recession the need for a proper HR department became more obvious. HR is not about someone just filling the database, but adding value to the company and strategic business partner. Currently we do not see many departments being outsourced unless there is a tight payroll as the added value of HR is returning.”