Serving Clients During Critical Times

December 18, 2020 – Alex Cormack, group managing director at Sheffield Haworth, is responsible for global practices within the London-based search firm. Additionally, he oversees the organization’s alternative investments business. Mr. Cormack focuses on senior executive search in financial services, working in partnership with a range of clients including institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, asset managers, alternative investors, and investment banks. He has a notable track record of executing senior searches across several different functional and specialist areas, including at the CEO, CIO, CFO and COO level.

Mr. Cormack has worked at Sheffield Haworth for 14 years and before that worked on the structured finance desk of a search firm in London. He started his career as an economic and political consultant at the European Economic and Financial Centre. Mr. Cormack recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the global pandemic and its impact on the London executive search market. He also sends a message to his clients during these trying times for businesses.

Alex, how has COVID-19 impacted your business?

As is the same for the rest of the industry we have been required to adapt to new working methods and ongoing uncertainty in business levels. At Sheffield Haworth we have all experienced firsthand the sadness caused by COVID-19, and due to this we have become closer as people. We have become more flexible, agile and have increased our focus on well-being to allow our colleagues to get the best out of their careers during this situation

Do you think search work will continue to be conducted in a virtual manner post-COVID-19?

We think there will be a natural mix of virtual and in-person. We have been quick to adapt to virtual search, which promotes more ingenuity in the industry, and when combined with face-to-face interaction, as appropriate, it enhances our ability to provide solutions to our clients

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working with clients in a non-face-to-face setting?

Undoubtedly our interaction with clients has become more efficient. In a virtual world we have been better able to expose our clients to the wide range of people and skills in Sheffield Haworth, regardless of their geography or sector, allowing more diversity of thought in client interactions and ultimately a better service. Of course, we can’t underestimate the intimacy and trust that is built in face-to-face meetings and must also realize that virtual interactions are not for everyone, as it can often be harder to express your personality through a screen.

Is Sheffield Haworth looking to expand in London or any other regions as we prepare to exit the pandemic era?

Last year we set our Vision 2025 which drives the continued growth of the company across geographies, sectors, and solutions. We have been actively pushing ahead with this agenda and despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 we feel very well placed to achieve our goal. Our geographical growth in the near term is focused on North America and China. Our North America business has been a success story for us over recent years and we have grown our footprint in 2020 by opening a Los Angeles office and are actively looking at other locations and sectors as part of this expansion. Similarly, we have opened an office in Shanghai over the last year because we believe in the growth story for China and the opportunity that brings.

What has Sheffield Haworth done to prepare for an unprecedented time like this?

In recent years we have invested heavily in technology, systems and processes enabling us to operate seamlessly from wherever we are located. We are limiting the number of face to face meetings, using video conferencing facilities such as Zoom, Skype for Business, FaceTime and Microsoft Teams to ensure interviews, briefings and meetings can continue and lines of communication are kept open. We will also be looking into ways in which clients can more easily access information to ongoing projects. Our global network of employees are on hand to advise and support our clients, ensuring that they still have access to the best talent, expertise and market knowledge.

What would you like to say to your clients during these trying times for businesses?

Sheffield Haworth’s purpose is to help companies and people realize their potential. With this at the forefront of our minds, we are committed to partnering with our clients to advise and assist them in achieving their goals and to navigate challenges. While these are trying times, there is also significant opportunity and excitement for the future and we would like our clients to know they can rely on us to be a trusted advisor, providing a flexible, agile and solutions driven approach.

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