The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), who own and operate BlueSteps, hosts two annual conferences each year, bringing together AESC member retained executive search consultants. This year, the America’s Conference attracted over 130 consultants from around the world, who discussed key global business issues and the current challenges and opportunities for the retained executive search industry. Each presentation and panel discussion was well received, and here we focus on Ian Davis’s review of ‘The New Normal: Challenges and Opportunities’.

Ian Davis, Senior Partner McKinsey & Company

The term ‘the new normal’ was originally coined by Davis in reference to the changing economic order which has now become reality; specifically the speed and growth of rising economic power and financial markets in countries such as China and Brazil.

‘The new normal’ offers both a challenge to our current understanding of global business, and an emerging positive environment for expanded opportunities. With regard to talent management and the global interchange of senior executives, Davis suggested that western executive search firms should focus on how they can place talent from emerging markets in western organisations, rather than only developing services to place western talent in the emerging markets. This is because not only are western corporations looking to expand into emerging markets, but emerging markets are looking to expand into western markets. This is particularly true when considering the higher profit margins available in established economies, especially in the US.

Focusing on McKinsey & Company’s experience in China, Davis also discussed how to do business in foreign economies. He advised that local talent must be employed to train and guide foreign born executives, and that expansion into foreign markets must be considered a long-term investment with little short-term gain. Despite the focus on the emerging markets, when asked to choose the 5 countries we should watch in the future, he candidly chose the US to fill 4 of the top 5 spots. The executive search consultants at the conference clearly hoped he was right, but took his predictions with cautious optimism as the effects of the hiring freeze spill into 2010. Despite this reality, things are definitely improving - take a look at a recent AESC report that demonstrated an increase in confidence from 2009 to 2010 on the part of our search consultants.

Finally, in response to a question about Brazil, Ian Davis expressed confidence in the expanding economy by predicting that this time the ‘star of Latin America’ is likely to avoid the many problems of the past such as inflation and others. There will no doubt be hundreds of new globalisation models as academics and analysts grapple with the continually evolving national and global markets. However, what will be interesting is how our organisations, peers and ‘local’ environment adapt and evolve. Does your personal development plan or organisation strategy include preparation for an increasingly global talent market?

Audio highlights of the 51st Annual AESC Americas conference are available to all AESC and BlueSteps members. See below for more information.


This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at


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