Interview: International Executive Search Federation Founder Discusses State of Executive Search

November 25, 2012 – The International Executive Search Federation (IESF)is a retained executive search group with 130 offices in 40 countries. Mark Geary is founder and Global President of the organization. The Federation also has three Regional Presidents coordinating each of IESF's regions: Americas (Normand Lebeau), Europe – Africa (Jacob Hoekstra), AsiaPac – Middle East (Vivek Ahuja). IESF has the widest coverage of any international search firm in the Emerging Markets serving international companies operating or starting new operations in these markets. The Emerging Markets are a core part of the business model. As multi specialists the IESF Partners run 12 sector practices that bring all the specific leadership and knowledge directly to the client. In the following interview Mr. Geary discusses the current state of the executive search industry.

Describe the current state of the global search market. Which global markets (North America, Europe, Asia) are up and which are down?

IESF has just held its 10th Anniversary Global Meeting in Milan, Italy. With our 130 offices in 40 countries we were able to get a good picture of the current state of the executive search market. Not surprisingly Europe is the weakest sector but with Germany and Scandinavia doing better than Southern Europe. USA has been holding up well for us where our strengths are technology, engineering, manufacturing and pharma/ healthcare. We do not have much exposure to banking. China has been very resilient with US clients continuing to grow their businesses in China. Our strengths here are technology, engineering, manufacturing, sourcing and supply chain again with limited exposure to banking.

Describe IESF’s global reach and how do clients benefit from your services? Are there any new areas the organization is looking to expanding to?

With our extensive coverage of global markets more and more clients are talking to us about how they can enter those markets. IESF is able to provide them with market entry advice as well offering recruitment services. Markets that continue to attract attention are Latin America, Russia, India, Asia Pacific and increasingly Africa has seen a lot of recruitment activity.

Is global hiring generally growing, slowing, or staying stagnant?

A development we have noticed is that more of the Fortune 500 companies have been setting up their own in-house talent acquisition departments. These talent acquisition departments are taking a much more strategic approach to talent acquisition and are developing talent pools which is creating new business opportunities for some of our partners.

Has the current state of the global economy affected the way firms approach a typical search assignment? What are the next five years going to look like for the search industry?

In our Milan Conference we discussed what would be impacting our business over the next five years. Our unanimous conclusion was Generation Y. This will be the key talent pool of 30 – 40 year olds. By 2020 45 percent of the work force will be Generation Y. Companies and executive search firms will need to find new ways to reach out and engage with them than they did in the past. Smartphones are taking over from the PC as the preferred communication medium. More companies are using Facebook and developing Facebook corporate webpages. Generation Y no longer believe what companies tell them, they use Glassdoor. Generation Y does not believe they have to be at a desk to be at work. In 2010, one in five people worked outside the corporate environment. By 2015 it will be two in five. IESF is busy preparing for this challenge!

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