executive search

“We need to recruit a new CXO. Can you search our competitors to see who is the best candidate?”

“We need to recruit a new CXO. Can you search our competitors to see who is the best candidate?”
This is the PROBLEM with some senior level searches today.

Companies are looking for more of the same. They want to hire the best from their competitors. And whilst in theory that is ok, that may not always be wisest.

Not in today’s context. Where the market is changing so fast. Where disruption is most likely coming from outside your industry.


Best is to think out of the box. Take some risk on some positions but with potential for high reward.

One client of ours from the pharma industry specifically asked us to find them a regional board member from FMCG. To help them adapt, be faster and learn to listen to the market more.

Another logistics client hired a CIO from the gaming industry. To help them digitalise the company, bring newest technology and do the change management.

One heavy asset based client hired a great candidate from an investment banking background to rethink their strategy around how they utilize their resources.

Does this involve a degree of risk?

For sure.

But the biggest risk is not changing. Or not changing fast enough.


What do you think? Comment below.

Executives, Shut Up more during the Interview!

This article was firsts published on my Linkedin Profile – here.

It feels nice to be on the top of a headhunter’s list of an executive position, doesn’t it?

It’s what you deserve, after all – you’ve been doing your work diligently. You’ve met expectations and exceeded them. You’ve made things happen. You had results. You feel like you belong in the 2% of applicants who get to the interview phase.

And naturally, when you get to a meeting with a hiring manager, you have stories to tell. You want them to be smitten by your experience. You want them to see that you’re the best person for the job, the ONLY person they should consider to fill the position.

So you talk. You make sure that nothing you think should be mentioned slips your mind. You give the hiring manager a hundred and one reasons to remember you when the time comes to make the choice.

But they don’t. You don’t get the call saying that you’re the new COO at Company Ltd. And you’re left wondering why.

Here’s the most common reason why: You probably TALKED too much! And did not ASK them enough questions!

Being a person who is in the position to be approached by a hiring manager for an executive position, there are some things you should be aware of. The most significant one is that businesses, at least the good ones, do not use the services of hiring managers to find people for whom they will tailor-make a position. When businesses are looking for new executives, they have a clear agenda. They have a need, and you’re the person they think might fulfill it. That’s what hiring managers are looking for, and that’s what you need to be.

A solution!

The single most important thing you need to do during the interview is to make sure you come off as a solution for the hiring company’s problems. And for that:

  1. You need to find out what are the hiring company’s problems are
  2. Demonstrate your experience, personality and skills are the answer to their problems

Revisit the Basics of Interviewing

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that you don’t necessarily have to know why the company is looking for a new executive. Maybe the old one retired. Maybe he was fired. Maybe he got promoted to another position. Maybe the company is branching. In some cases, the hiring manager might volunteer that information. In other cases, you might get a vague explanation such as “the company is thinking about taking a new direction.” Or even worse, you might get some meaningless phrases in business-speak thrown at you.

That’s why it’s important that you do your homework before the interview. The interview 101 you knew by heart when you were looking for your first job mentioned it. It’s still relevant – you need to find out as much as you can about the company and why they are looking for a new executive as you can before facing a hiring manager. You can look into the specifics, but you can also become familiar with the recruitment trends in your industry. That will greatly increase your chances to becoming an answer to the question they will never ask directly.

If You Haven’t Done Your Homework, Pay Close Attention!

But if you’re not able to do all of that digging, listening and asking questions at the interview could do the trick. So, when the hiring manager asks you something, don’t see that as an opportunity to boast with all of your accomplishments. They know them. They’ve done their homework. Give them an answer to the question they asked, nothing more, nothing less. If you don’t understand something about their questions, or you think they could provide you with information which could help you give them a better answer, ask them. And listen to their answer.


It’s paramount that you and the hiring manager stay on the same page during the whole interview. Some positions, for example, can be held in different kinds of industries. You might have experience working in different industries. You might even be targeted because of your cross-industry experience, as this is one of the tactics advised to employ to get quality talent and facilitate much needed change.

But when a hiring manager comes knocking, make sure you use the same language they are using. Don’t speak about your accomplishments in a tech company if they’re looking to hire someone who worked in the financial sector. Speak about your experiences in the financial sector, even if your most recent employment was in a tech company.

Keep in mind – an interview is not the place for you to display your magnificent ego. It’s not a place where you will have your praises sung. It’s a place where you go to become a solution for a problem. You don’t have to be the best in your field. You have to be what the person in front of you is looking for.

Some of my other articles on Linkedin:

Always happy to connect on Linkedin for future interactions!

The fight for talent – Logistics Start-ups vs Established MNCs

This article was firsts published on my Linkedin Profile – here.

Rise of Logistics Start ups

In today’s tech-enabled world, just about anything can be ordered anywhere in the world from a smartphone. However, traditional supply chain and logistics services are yet to catch up. A shipment across continents requires multiple layers of providers, takes days and is often complicated to manage. This has provided a golden opportunity to a variety of startups, in Asia and worldwide, that have emerged to tackle the shortcomings. From intra-city delivery, to on-demand storage and innovative web-based tools and platforms, startups are now catering to varied logistics needs for all kinds of businesses.

One of the most experienced companies in growing ecommerce startups – Rocket Internet – has focused a lot on growing their Lazada and Zalora ecommerce brands. And just this week, Alibaba announced it agreed to buy a US$1 billion controlling stake in Lazada. Moreover, this investment, together with US$250 million into SingPost, Singapore’s national postal service, means Alibaba is trying to get their foot in the door into South East Asia ecommerce market.

Further looking at the start-up battleground we have a few remarkable players. Thailand’s aCommerce, has had an impressive growth. With offices and distribution centres in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines and over 140 enterprise clients and 300 percent growth, things are looking up for them. The start-up is providing end-to-end services with focus on ecommerce clients. They have raised over US$20 million in funding and arranging an offline-to-online shift after an investment and partnership deal with DKSH, a major Swiss company.

Another example of a fast growing start-up, Singapore-based online grocery company RedMart is close to raising a massive $100 million Series C round. Their plan is to expand their service across Asia. They already secured over $50 million from investors like Garena, SoftBank Ventures Korea, Visionnaire Ventures, and Facebook co­-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Big players in e-commerce are also busy with expanding their footprint. Infrastructure developments in the region is happening on the border of Hong Kong and China. Over 2 million square feet of e-commerce warehousing are being constructed, that nearly triples e-commerce logistics capacity in Hong Kong since 2014. TaoBao, JD.com and others are driving the expansion as they continue to enable China’s consumer desire for genuine products and foreign-made brands in South China.

But it’s not just about ecommerce. There is a lot of excitement around the future for on-demand platforms like Uber or Grab. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced the company will eye logistics as its next frontier “We’re in the business, today, of delivering cars in five minutes. But once you’re delivering cars in five minutes, there’s a lot of things you can deliver in five minutes.”

So “Uber for logistics” is well on the way. In Asia, however, where the logistics industry remains less sophisticated than that of the US or western Europe, this wave is already happening. Companies offering logistics-on-demand face growing demand by the day . It’s more important to get things done than have a great plan. By doing without fancy black cars in favor of white vans and trucks, Lalamove, Ninja Van and Gogovan have beaten Uber.

Funding for Logistics Startups in Southeast Asia has been on the rise

Who will get the best talent: Startups or Established supply chain organisations?

With the startup wave rising, the logistics industry is witnessing employee movement, especially in mid- to senior-level, from established 3PLs or Supply chain organisations to new age ventures. Employees are moving to startups mainly because of the exciting work culture, sometimes even substantial pay rise and significantly larger roles. All of the above can be clearly attributed to “meaningful aspirations” employees have today from their work and workplaces. Startups are also wooing employees with stock options. This allows them to engage employees for a long term. Candidates view this as an attractive opportunity with the potential of cashing-in when a company is bought over or announces its IPO.

Additionally, established start-ups are easily able to attract talent thanks to their appealing employer brand. Top young candidates would be reluctant to go join an established 3PL or supply chain organization because of its perceived conservative culture. However, the same candidates would probably jump at the opportunity to work at Uber, Amazon, Grab or why not Red Mart.

Working as a senior executive in a MNC means making a high salary, maybe driving a sports car, using a corporate card and other perks. So why would anyone give that up to take a pay cut, network with programmers and give up the fancy corner office for a desk at a coworking space?

The answer is – to change the world!

A 2011 report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the No. 1 factor that young adults ages 21 to 31 wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning. The Google Careers homepage sums it up in their simple yet bold headline: “Do cool things that matter.”


As a great example, RedMart, managed to hire ex-eBay marketing director Todd Kurie last year. Take Lazada and Zalora’s management teams, who are made up almost exclusively of finance professionals, ex McKinsey and other high flying individuals who are leaving their corporate careers behind for the technology industry.

This has been the trend at Rocket Internet’s companies, as portrayed by an ex employee: “Everyone was coming from a banking or consulting background. Rocket Internet CEO asked himself where he could find the biggest overachievers. He knew that type came from Goldman, McKinsey and other consultant firms. They had the pedigree that made it easier for him to raise money – every investor respected these employees because they had the same background.”

So should established 3PLs and Supply Chain organisations be concerned?

Yes! Absolutely!

Given that top-tier people with such a broad profile are hard to find. A recent survey of 400 executives of multinational companies by Deloitte found that 71% have difficulty recruiting senior leadership for their companies’ supply chains; 74% said they would need strategic thinking and problem-solving skills in their supply chain managers, but less than half said their companies are good at it now.

Companies that don’t invest in hiring or cultivating talent now will suffer greatly 3 years down the road. This coupled with the fact that the top young graduates will continue to prefer joining a Uber or Amazon rather than a brand perceived as traditional, will spark serious trouble for a lot of companies.

As I have written before, the investment needs to be done in employer branding and building a talent pipeline. But even beyond this two points, established organisations need to walk the talk!

And their senior management needs to move beyond hierarchical and usually slow decision making and to much faster ability to respond to market conditions. And give these high flyer and overachiever profiles enough scope to make an impact. Fast!

Moreover, companies should consider injecting new blood from outside the traditional industry into their executive teams, to be catalysts for these changes. Because at the moment, the picture is not very rosy. And most established organisations failing to adapt fast enough. And this is something we are hearing again and again from our C-level candidates themselves!

Innovation is the key!

For example, an obvious question, looking at the 3PL organisations: why is there none of them implementing their own GoGoVan or UBER? When these startups were small, they could have even been an acquisition target. Though time is not lost, with more start-ups coming and growing aggressively. However courage and ability to take tough decisions is required.

And don’t get me wrong, there are some companies which can be shared as positive examples. XPO is probably one of the more aggressive and progressive out there, having allocated $400 million annual investment in technology worldwide to drive innovation.

Also, take DHL, they were the first and fastest to create the ecommerce business in response to market conditions. And subsequently, SingPost and their logistics arm, Quantium Solutions, actually built on DHL strategy, attracting their top senior management and then establishing themselves as key players in ecommerce themselves. Not to mention they also were quick to name at that point in time two key partners of McKinsey, Wolfgang Baier and Sascha Hower, as CEO respectively COO, to drive the change.


The market today is more dynamic and moves faster than anything we have seen ever before. Supply chain and logistics are obvious catalysts for productivity and cost improvement and are prone target of these fast changes.

Hence, in order to stay relevant and keep attracting top talent, the key questions senior executives of established organisations should ask themselves are:

  • How can we speed up our decision making process?
  • How can we attract and give freedom to take decisions to our top talent?
  • How can we leverage our top performers to to reinvent our business?

Established organisations need to pay attention to the fast pace of change that happens in the industry – from start-ups to new technology. And try to keep up! The more nimble you are, the faster you will adapt.


Always happy to connect on Linkedin for future interactions!