In this interview, we talked to Lucie Shaw, from Amrop UK, about the results of the 2016 BlueSteps Executive Job Outlook report and her advice for candidates. Download the full report here.

Many executives expect the number of executive jobs to increase in 2016. Is now the time to make a move?

Irrespective of what is happening within the broader economy, we all need to have a high level understanding of what is important to us in our next roles and, beyond that, in a longer term career. Executives should be very clear on what their personal objectives are and what they can contribute to a business; this will enable them to assess opportunities as they come up on their own merits and against their own goals rather than being swayed by what’s going on in the wider economic context. If a role and business fit well against your objectives and strengths, go for it – whether that’s this month or next year!

lucie_shaw_executive_job_outlookWhat global economic trends do you see having the most impact on executive jobs in the coming year?

Clearly events in the oil and commodities market and China are creating volatility and uncertainty at a global market level. This in and of itself has an impact on confidence and therefore on hiring levels. In the UK, we also have the very real threat of an exit from the EU with the in/out referendum now set for June this year. The impact of an exit on business, on the EU and UK economies is still very unclear, which again has consequences for business confidence and executive-level hiring. 

How can an executive best present him/herself to get noticed by executive search consultants in today’s marketplace?

This is an ongoing process that will build over time. My advice is to look to your own track record and reputation first and foremost. Ultimately, if you are focused on building a strong track record through creating a great legacy, your reputation will grow and you will be noticed both by your industry and by executive search consultants. I would also strongly recommend that people increase their visibility by proactively building their own networks, contributing and getting involved outside of their own immediate organization, e.g. with industry bodies, speaking events and so on.

What would you rank as the major challenges for executives at the moment, and what executive skills are in high demand considering those current challenges?

Challenges are keeping ahead of the competition and staying close to your customers. It may sound obvious, but when you look at the dashboards of executives, they are so complicated, with so many KPIs and indicators, that keeping a macro-level view - really understanding exactly what it is that is important to the customer - is not always obvious. The skill sets that we are seeing to be in high demand are partly related to that: Right across the consumer industries from retail through to FMCG and leisure, we are noticing an increased demand for people who can champion the overall customer experience at the most senior levels. Digital remains critical too: There are still a great many organizations, both globally and locally, that are in the midst of the enormous transformations occurring as a consequence of the changes being driven by digital innovation around the world.

Why do you think most executives valued executive coaching and digital/social media training over other forms of additional training/education? Do you agree that this is the best way for executives to stay relevant in the job market, other than on the job experience?

Both of these areas carry tremendous value for executives. Coaching is a great way of understanding your own strengths and weaknesses; it is extremely useful if you find the right coach and build a solid relationship. Digital and social media training are also absolutely essential in today’s fast-moving, hyper-connected world: You can do so much good and so much harm through both channels that understanding how to work with them is vital. However, leading businesses is a complex, demanding job and it would be dangerous to suggest that these two things on their own are enough. Staying relevant is about constantly learning – be curious; stretch your network and boundaries; keep awareness as broad as possible across all key areas: Customers, competitors and technology.

If you could offer one key piece of advice to today’s senior leaders, what would that be?

This is one thing that doesn’t change! Be authentic and ensure that you enjoy what you do: Everything else follows on naturally from there. 

For more one-on-one interviews and commentary from leading executive search consultants, download the full report here.


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