Interview: IESF Officers Discuss Global Search Conditions

September 15, 2010 – The International Executive Search Federation (IESF) is a retained executive search group with 160 offices in 40 countries. Jacob Hoekstra serves as joint president of IESF and Mark Geary is founder and joint vice president of the organization. In 2003, Mr. Hoekstra took over the Italian executive search firm Kilpatrick and immediately affiliated the company to IESF and built up the business regionally to become a leading player in international searches for both Italian clients abroad and multinationals trying to define key players in Italy. In 2006 the firm opened offices in Romania (Timisoara and Bucharest) and later in the Netherlands. Mr. Geary is also the owner and chief executive of AsiaNet Consultants, an executive search consultancy in the Asia Pacific region with offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, London and New York. The firm has a sister company, Asia Sourcing Network, which assists companies in setting up offices and source suppliers in China. In the following interview Messrs Hoekstra and Geary discuss the current state of the executive search industry.

Explain the IESF and what it brings to its members and clients?

The International Executive Search Federation is the world’s largest executive search federation with 160 offices in 40 countries and brings to its members unparalleled global search capability.

How many executive search firms and recruiters does IESF currently have?

The International Executive Search Federation currently comprises 40 search firms and 360 consultants worldwide.

Discuss your global reach?

In today’s global marketplace all major multinationals are looking to the emerging markets to expand their sales and reduce their costs of production. Identifying executive talent with international experience in these markets is what IESF can do better than any other search group as it has more offices in the emerging countries that any other group.

Are there any new regions in which IESF is looking to expand?

Yes, we are currently looking to expand further in the Middle East and South America.

What are some key challenges your clients have experienced in terms of talent management and what was your approach in overcoming them?

Discussions with our clients have identified that they have shortages of management talent both in the emerging markets and also in the ranks of their HQ senior management. We are increasingly involved in talent mapping projects for these companies to develop talent pools to assist both recruitment and succession planning.

Do you think the economic climate has improved in the last three to six months – and do you think the recruiting industry has bottomed out or are markets still declining?

We have seen a definite improvement during the last six months in China and India. In the U.S. and Europe the picture is more mixed, but companies with strong balance sheets have been increasing their sales and business development capabilities.

What industries or sectors are showing the best improvement and which industries or sectors do you think are showing the least?

The sectors where we have seen improving conditions are construction, infrastructure, banking and life sciences.

What is your advice to organizations in terms of retaining the best talent for their workplaces?

The No. 1 one reason why employees leave is the way they are treated by their boss! Line managers need to become better people managers. If part of their bonus is linked to employee turnover they may pay more attention! Companies also need to invest more in learning and development in particular to attract and retain management talent in the emerging markets.

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