CBN Business Highlights | In Conversation
How can today’s enterprises search for executives? In the face of the Internet and digital transformation, enterprises need disruptive yet versatile leaders.
The CBN Weekly article, “CBN Business Highlights | In Conversation,” interviewed Russell Reynolds Associates CEO Clarke Murphy about his thoughts on the current state of executive search. The translated article is below.
Current President and CEO of Russell Reynolds Associates, Clarke Murphy, has been in the executive search industry for 29 years. He stated that the industry has dramatically evolved over the last decade. "Today, we assess a candidate not only based on his competencies and values, but also determine the spread of both his positive and negative traits – how agile he can span across these traits, whether he can adapt and if he is suitable for the future strategies of the enterprise.“
CBN: Today, most enterprises have developed new executives roles that did not exist before, e.g. Chief Ecosystem officer, Chief Experience officer, etc how can we help these enterprises search for such roles?
Clarke: Cyber security, digital operations, etc. brings about a lot of changes for the C-suite roles. Take Chief Digital Officer as an example, first of all, age is not a problem. The experience of one who has operated in technology, digital, radio, telecommunication or retail operations for many years – one who has worked in a complex and evolving environment – will be able to understand and adapt to changes in the digital age, this candidate may not necessarily be very young. Secondly, the Chief Digital Officer requirements are very comprehensive. Twenty years ago, some technicians will only tell their staff "you must hear me, you should do so." Today, a successful leader not only must be visionary and a thought leader, but also has the abilty to galvanise the team, to convince and encourage the team to collaborate to transform and innovate. Enterprise must have clear and well defined functions for such roles when recruiting this type of position. Otherwise, it will fail.
Depending on the different industries, enterprise developmental needs are not the same. For example, industrial, oil and gas industries may require business process changes, and the publishing industry has to focus on how they survive in the Internet age. We have seen the various changes in executive roles requirements due to business transformation, and will conduct the search and assessment based on their needs and focus, and help crystalise the appropriate approach.
CBN: With the development of technology, there will be some changes to the structure of the enterprises, how does the Board of directors or CEO deal with the current employment pressure now, and set up an efficient Board?
Clarke: There have been various changes to the board governance and regulation in recent years, as seen in Japan and the West. Most Board of Directors have different expertise, such as financial, government policy and technology, and so on; there are many enterprises focus on ensuring diversity, to best represents the interests of the shareholders and customers. In our view, the Board's role is to help regulate, rather than operational role. The Board of Directors may not have to be from specific industry, but able to understand the multi-disciplines and ecosystem.
Compared to five years ago, we have grown our business to help Board to be more effective. For example, we help optimise the Board and organisational structure, communications effectiveness, distribution of Board roles, Board and management communications, as well as Board search and advisory.
Although the China market has not much Board structuring requests, the business is still at its initial stage. More multinationals are beginning to consider Asia, including China executives, to join as members of the Board of Directors.
CBM: Today, many Chinse enterprises have expanded overseas, how does Russell Reynolds Associates help these enterprises to search their executives?
Clarke: There are two parts, one is to help the enterprises to find the right expatriate executives; the other is to help identify the right local executives to enable seamless communications with the Chinese headquarters and help penetrate the overseas markets. The same applies when we used to help multinational companies to enter the Chinese market. When selecting candidates for these enterprises, we assess both their competencies to see if they are qualified, and if they fit into the corporate culture by conducting enterprise cultural fit assessment. We will also discuss and interview the hiring executives to understand their corporate plans and culture.
Local private companies and family businesses, mainly IT, consumer goods, as well as financial services companies, are our fastest growing business in China. There are increasing focus and demand to leverage on digital technology, science and data, to attract more talented people to help realize innovation. Multinational companies in China are learning fast, and their efforts in grooming the local executives in China headquarters and exposing them overseas are in good progress. Now, there are mostly local managers working with Chinese enterprises in their overseas offices, and there are also Chinese executives in charge of the overseas offices to better communicate and educate the overseas markets situation to the China headquarters. In General, it is a hybrid state.