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KTA Associates - 20

Whole new ballgame for C-level executives

In International

The new landscape in which executives – and aspiring C-level talent – find themselves in today is a lot tougher than prior to 2008. But there are opportunities to be had.


Executive search activity has always been a good barometer of short to mid-term economic confidence because of the lead time involved in recruiting key top leaders.


Three clear trends are emerging in the executive search sector for the years ahead.


The first is that organisations are now a lot leaner. Before the global crisis, size mattered – how big was your revenue? How many staff did you employ globally? Now, organizations have become very lean. C-level executives cannot expect to have an army of staff supporting them. There are no longer jobs for armchair leaders.


To fit into these lean, mean organisations, C-level executives need to be able to roll up their sleeves and get involved and engaged, and be able to operate at all levels.


As organisations do not have the luxury of hiring extra back-up headcount, as was commonly done previously for succession planning, senior executives must be happy to be hired for roles that they are currently more than qualified for. Today, organisations want to hire executives who have the bench strength for the future.


Singapore has consistently been a fertile source of regional talent, but a second emerging trend is that increasingly, global experience is expected. One example is in the maritime industry, where more foreign shipping companies are looking to the east of Suez to fuel their business growth. As one of the very few countries to provide favourable tax incentives, stable fiscal policies and a good reputation as a leading arbitration centre, Singapore is emerging as a desired global centre. Examples are Rolls-Royce moving its maritime business from London to Singapore, and IM Skaugen re-locating its holding company and Norgas, its fleet management subsidiary, from Oslo to Singapore.


This is an area where Singapore C-level executives are not keeping pace with foreigners who have more impressive international credentials gained across continents, in Europe and the Americas.