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I’ve just returned home from a global IIC Partners meeting which was held in Hong Kong this year.  We had three days of meetings with our partner firms from around the world, and spent a lot of time talking about talent, leadership, executive search and executive assessment.  There were 35 firms participating in the conference from around the world:  18 from Europe, the Middle East and Africa; 6 from Asia Pacific and 11 from the Americas.

I’m always struck by both the similarities and differences in our work across the globe, and I learn a great deal from our discussions of best practices, industry trends and new developments in our field.

Here are some observations and takeaways gleaned from the three-day meeting:

  • The Rise of Digital. One of the presentations focused on the explosion of digital tools that impact the executive search industry. Although our firm uses every one of the ten tools discussed, over 40% of the firms report that they don’t use social media resources at all.  That was a shocker to me.
  • The world of retained executive search is diversifying. Many firms spoke about their executive assessment practices and the development of market mapping tools.  This is particularly true of firms in Europe, where retained executive search seems to be a bit less prevalent.
  • While every firm is obsessed with how to provide the highest quality services in the shortest amount of time, there is a growing sentiment that excellent work in executive search takes a bit of time. There is no doubt that all of the research tools available to us have accelerated our identification of potential candidates, but we still have to entice those candidates, get them to speak with us, convince them that they should consider the opportunity and fully assess them.  Technology offers very little to speed up those steps.
  • Broadening Assessment. Clients seem to have a growing interest in the use of assessment tools when evaluating candidates. There are many tools out there, but clearly clients are looking for additional data points when choosing executives.
  • Succession Planning. Much time was spent lamenting how difficult it is for firms to find and hire consultants to join them. Beyond multiple references to the “shoemaker’s children”, there was lots of discussion about how difficult it is for consultants from the large global firms to be successful in mid-sized, independent firms – where there is a greater focus on teamwork and client service.  Like so many of our clients, we are very focused on the next generation of leaders for our organizations.

The competition for the most unexpected phrase appearing in a Power Point presentation was won, hands down, with this headline taken from a New York tabloid:

Wall Street recruiters had boozy, naked romps

I’ve been at this for almost 20 years and had no idea how glamorous our industry is.

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