May 24, 2022 – LiqTech International, a clean technology company that manufactures and markets highly specialized filtration technologies, has been retained by Heidrick & Struggles to lead its search for a new CEO. In May, the company entered into a separation and release agreement with CEO Sune Mathiesen, who had previously taken a medical leave of absence. The company’s interim CEO, Alex Buehler, has agreed to maintain the position for the foreseeable future until a permanent candidate is identified and a proper transition is conducted. LiqTech International, a Nevada corporation, is a clean technology company that provides state-of-the-art ceramic silicon carbide filtration technologies for gas and liquid purification. LiqTech’s silicon carbide membranes are designed to be used in the most challenging water purification applications and its silicon carbide filters are used to control diesel exhaust soot emissions.
Heidrick & Struggles works closely with companies across the cleantech/sustainability spectrum that seek to define and achieve their own sustainability goals. The firm’s experience guiding boards and senior executives through organization-wide transformations helps Heidrick find and foster future-ready leaders who can authentically integrate sustainability initiatives that meet the rising expectations of stakeholders and of the companies themselves. The Chicago-headquartered recruiter is the fifth largest global firm as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media.
Insider or Outsider?
It is yet to be seen whether Heidrick will be targeting insiders or outsiders to fill this top position. Recruiters focused on finding talent for the C-suite say that at least half of all job openings are filled by internal candidates before the positions are introduced to the public job market. This may suggest that companies have relatively reliable bench strength even though leadership development is seen as stagnating at many companies. The main reason given: Companies prefer to promote from within.
For those searches that go to recruiters, with a clear mandate to look wide and deep both inside and outside a client organization, internal candidates still surface more often and get the job about 80 percent of the time.
Bridging the Skills Gap With Insiders
There has been an emergent skills gap that has plagued almost every industry. While organizations have implemented a series of measures to improve oversight of labor costs and value returns, they have focused more on improving the quality of talent acquisition than they have on sustaining employee performance.
Recruiters say clients generally like to be seen as making bold moves but in the end many remain risk averse when it comes to hiring elite executives, especially into their highly protected upper leadership ranks. They look at insiders as safer bets. Knowing this mindset going in, recruiters say they advise their clients that when they have an inside candidate who is 70 percent as strong as an outside choice to hire the insider. Fit and culture seem to be the deciding factor.
“There is a greater risk when you bring somebody in from the outside that it won’t work out,” said Kathleen Yazbak, founder of Boston-based Viewcrest Advisors, a boutique search firm focused on finding leadership talent for mission-driven and high-performing companies, social enterprises, and philanthropies.
Internal candidates know the business model, organization goals, and inside cultures, say recruiters, and oftentimes they have the requisite skills. They know the customers, clients, and co-workers. They have also established relationships with colleagues and their organization’s leaders. But, more importantly, they have already shown their potential. They can, therefore, assimilate faster and will likely be more satisfied in their new roles than outside hires.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media