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APAC Companies Seek Executives with On-The-Ground Experience

In this interview, we talked to Stafford Bagot, from Heidrick & Struggles, about the results of the 2016 BlueSteps Executive Job Outlook report and his 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?

In Asia we’re in a state of uncertainty. We’re looking over our shoulders to see what’s happening in China and other places, with the election year in America as well. There’s a hesitancy for the people being so bullish. At the same time, this is a time when clients can use search consultants the most to try to find the best people for their companies. People aren’t madly leaving their jobs and jumping onto other jobs.
 

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

The biggest impact for the coming year will be the oil and gas sector coming to a massive slowdown. That’s really impacted a lot of our industrial clients and clients that deal with straight resources, such as transportation, logistics, manufacturing and trade in general. We’re seeing this negative impact in Australia, South East Asia and the Middle East.  
 

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

You’ve got to be good on your game and solid and be the best you can be. You’re only as good as your last search. Show your track record of what you’ve done in other tough market times as well. So I think clients are looking for a global approach and teamwork.
 

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?

Clients are looking for people who have truly global and regional experience. It’s really important, in this part of the world, that candidates have had experience beyond a single country. Not only understanding how trade works, but also the cultural sensitivities across different markets. It’s different as opposed to someone running Asia by remote control from Americas or Europe. They want people who have had on-the-ground, regional experience here.
 

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?

It’s important, not only for candidates; it’s valuable for us all. We’re all reinventing ourselves and learning how things are getting done. Many of our clients now have a culture of instantaneous responses to things via email or other forms of social media, like WhatsApp or WeChat, or to a lesser extent Twitter. Forms of communication is instantaneous and news is instantaneous, rather than just once a day or twice a day. There are expectations that are placed on all of us, including executives to be instantaneous. We’re constantly running and I think we need constant training to keep ourselves up-to-date on all of this, so I think it’s very valid. Anyone that’s remaining “old school” is going to get left behind. I’ve seen very senior-level executives and board directors who are now communicating via web communication platforms, such as Skype, rather than traditional telephone.

Executive coaching is absolutely valuable. We offer that to our clients as well and I think it’s valuable for all executives to go through. I’ve seen it work. People are under pressure; they need to have an edge or stay ahead. We’re in a culture now where coaching is not seen as a weakness.
 

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

Stay fresh, stay relevant and stay agile. Be open to new ideas and new ways of business. If you’re interested in China, come down to China and visit – don’t just read about it – jump in and stay curious.


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

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