Leadership hiring bucks economic downturn
While leadership hiring continues to be strong, what has changed, however, is risk-averse organisations taking longer to zero in on the best talent for a CXO level post.
While leadership hiring continues to be strong, what has changed, however, is risk-averse organisations taking longer to zero in on the best talent for a CXO level post. This has resulted in prolonging of the process of hiring, said hiring experts.
EMA Partners, an executive search firm, said it has signed up as least seven-to-eight CEO searches in the last one month. Executive Access India, on the other hand, has signed up five new assignments within the last 30 days. Sapphire Human Solutions CEO Ankit Bansal, said: “Across India, there have been over 400 CXO movements in August alone, as per our internal research. The number has remained more or less the same over the last few months.”
Bansal said although there has been a flurry of new mandates, decision making has slowed down and is delaying the process. “For a placement to close in August, work would have started in January-February this year. One would have to wait for CXO placement numbers for December-January to understand the real impact of the current slowdown”
EMA Partners regional managing partner (Asia) K Sudarshan, said: “We believe while CEO hiring has not taken a beating in a bearish market, the process of hiring has certainly lengthened. Organisations are also cautious that they want to hire a CEO who will hit the ground running as there is no appetite for trying someone who is untested.”
Given the demand, CXO talent is weighing options to see which side the bread is buttered. Executive Access India MD Ronesh Puri, said: “Talent, which is not looking at retiring soon, is taking advantage of the situation to look for new opportunities. Premium talent continues to command an even bigger premium as organisations are competing with each other for outstanding talent. Premium talent is keen on moving out at more than traditional 20% hikes. Their ask is now around 40% as they know they can today command a higher price.”
Average talent is being weeded out and facing the axe as companies are becoming tough on average performers. “We are getting a number of calls from candidates as well. They're restive and apprehensive about their future and job security,” said Puri.
With regard to the new mandates it has acquired, Puri, said: “We have signed five new interesting assignments with in the last 30 days with family-owned companies wanting to further professionalise the management. Four of these are from the Indian family owned businesses. These are companies of the size of Rs 2,000-4,000 crore and want to professionalise their leadership and scale up their businesses even in a slowdown as they feel this is the best time to hire quality talent."
The trend of companies hiring CXOs from another sector to bring in fresh perspective has, however, witnessed a slight change. “When times are hard, companies like to shuffle the pack. There are firms who do not want to hire from the same industry and, at the same time, there are companies which ask us to bring talent from the same industry. Both these trends are running parallel,” said Puri.
Some of the resent examples of lateral leadership hiring include the appointment of Rajesh Tapadia as CEO of Bharti Airtel's data centre and cloud business, Nxtra Data, the appointment of Anup Rau as CEO & MD of Future Generali India Insurance Company and the appointment of Neeraj Bahl as MD & CEO BSH Household Appliances.