Top Insights and Trends in Executive Search for 2023  

February 14, 2023 – With market uncertainty on the minds of senior executives as we move deeper into the new year, the executive search industry is poised for change. Executive search firm ON Partners recently reviewed the most popular insights and topics that it has delved into on its website in the last year, all with an eye to what it means for the year ahead. “Beyond those critical macroeconomic issues experienced across organizations, the articles that were most widely read focused on the rapidly changing profile of key executive roles, the demand for more diversity in the tech sector, and the evolution of the operating partner role in private equity,” said ON Partners.

Of the many subjects covered, said the search firm, five particularly stood out:

1.The Rise of the Operating Partner Role in Private Equity

Last fall, ON Partners sponsored a live interactive webinar, in collaboration with Hunt Scanlon Media, discussing the rise of the operating partner in private equity with Anna Tye from Carlyle, Ed Richards from Marlin Equity Partners, Steven Berman from Accel-KKR, and Ryan Greene from Francisco Partners. The session was moderated by Tindall Hein and Jeff Hocking from ON Partners.

The webinar examined how PE firms were viewing the importance of the operating partner role, how it has shifted over the years, and the impact the role has on portfolio companies’ success. “The market has become so competitive that it’s not as easy to generate returns,” said Ms. Tye during the session. “You really have to do it through adding value. So the more operational expertise you have to do that, the better.”

2. The NEXT Series: Evolving Profiles of Executive Roles

Virtually every organization has had to evolve its leadership structure to accommodate the demand and evolution of executive roles including supply chain, adding an ESG component, marketing, and sales, to name a few, said ON Partners.

The firm researched the various consulting assignments it has conducted over the past few years to summarize the evolution of specific executive roles and the attributes and experience required to take on a leadership position in this ever-changing business environment. These included supply chain leader, chief revenue officer, leaders shaping ESG and its future, and chief marketing officer.

3. How to Increase Diverse Executive Hires in Tech?

While many executive search firms proudly tout their diversity practices, Mr. Hocking, a partner with the firm, emphasized that all ON Partners searches are diverse searches. Increasing the number of diverse executives in leadership positions has been a priority, he said.

Related: Hunt Scanlon Looks Back at a Whirlwind Year in Executive Recruiting

With a focus on placing senior executives in the notoriously white male-dominated technology sector, Mr. Hocking said he understands the challenges associated with placing diverse candidates – and how to overcome them. “We approach every search with a commitment to presenting a client with a diverse candidate slate,” said Mr. Hocking in his report. “We know that human nature is to gravitate toward people who are similar to each other, so we always skew heavily toward underrepresented, qualified candidates to ensure there is a diverse view of opportunities from the start.”

4. How Have Boards Developed in 2022?

Shawn Oglesbee, a partner at ON Partners, discussed developments in corporate board rooms with the Board Leadership Journal as organizations look to move beyond the current challenges facing them. The past year has seen one of the most volatile business environments in memory, he said. Political, social, economic, health, and regulatory factors combined to form the perfect storm, creating a turbulent path for boards and those in the C-suite to navigate.

Executive Hiring Predictions for 2023
ON Partners recently asked its consultants to offer predictions and insights about the executive jobs they expect to be in demand in 2023. The past few years have seen one of the most volatile business environments in memory. Political, social, economic, health, and regulatory factors combined to form the perfect storm, creating a turbulent path for boards and those in the C-suite to navigate. According to ON consultants, embracing transformation in an uncertain landscape, continued digital transformation efforts, and building strong financial organizations are among the key factors expected to drive executive hiring in the coming year.

“Companies should be investing in roles that support transformation and forward thinking in to 2023,” said Lynda Robey, partner. “We’ve learned from other market dips that companies that didn’t simply brace for the changes but actually leaned into transformation during changes came out winners. Readiness for what may come as well as the knowledge that the organization will be stronger for it coming out of any macro impact should be the focus.”

As a result, bringing together the right executive leadership team to unlock a brand’s potential has never been more critical, especially as the demand for leadership talent has increased. “Building a board team with the right mix of experience and perspectives has arguably never been more important to an organization’s success,” said Mr. Oglesbee in his report.

5. Why Product Leaders are in High Demand 

Competition for senior talent is fiercer than ever, with COVID putting the ability of businesses to effectively solve customer problems front and center. Over the past year, ON Partners consultants have seen a dramatic increase in demand for senior-level product roles across multiple market sectors, said the firm.

“Whether it be IT, supply chain, banking, or retail, companies across nearly every market sector have had to become more responsive and agile, with the product executive tasked with leading the organization to solve problems,” said the firm.

Experienced Recruiters

With a primary focus on technology, consumer, industrial, and the life science sectors, ON Partners recruits C-level and board talent for public and private companies, as well as venture capital and private equity firms. Founded in 2006, the firm’s consultants work from offices in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Dallas; Menlo Park, CA; Minneapolis. MN; San Francisco; and New York. ON Partners was named one of the fastest growing search firms this year by Hunt Scanlon Media. The firm is now ranked as one of the 20 largest search firms in the nation.

Related: Fostering Relationships in Recruitment

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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