Executive search in the age of digital disruption

Executive search in the age of digital disruption

Finding talent to lead the way on digital transformation calls for finesse, subtlety and expertise.

“Of course, digital disruption is affecting the executive search business, but not in the way you might think,” says Mark Braithwaite, Odgers Berndtson Managing Director – Asia Pacific.

“The disruption is not coming from our competition, but from the changing needs of our clients."

“The pace of change because of digital disruption manifests itself in organisations way beyond technology."

“The digital transformation that many of our clients are in the midst of is rapidly changing their business models. This, in turn, requires leaders to accept that they need to let go of the legacy and adapt quickly to a very different world that will continue to change at an ever-faster pace.”

Transformation in mind

“Handling the transformation of this kind demands a leadership mind-set that welcomes change and new learnings. Or it requires a change of the leadership, itself!

“As an executive search firm, we are evolving quickly with our clients to help them define and measure the ability of their leadership to be successful into the future, so they know where to develop and where to replace leaders.”

“To help in this process, our LeaderFit™ Model and Profile is designed to identify the leaders able to thrive in a world of disruption, complexity and uncertainty.

“This lifts our offering way above the recruitment transaction and brings us much closer to our client in a more strategic partnership,” says Brathwaite. “I believe that we are entering the most exciting time for the executive search industry. What we do for our clients is now more important than ever.”


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Beyond the transactional

While the advent of technologies like AI and automation will inevitably change the way companies recruit at a volume or transactional level, the strategic nature of executive search means it will see the least impact.

That’s because executive search differs from most forms of recruitment as it requires a higher level of expertise and human interaction.

“Our service is people and knowledge-based and focused on convincing executives to make career decisions, even when they are satisfied with the role/company they are in,” says Michael Drew, Partner & Global Head, Technology & IT Services Practice.

“We act as a change agent and aim to divert them onto a different path and typically a higher career trajectory.”

“We use judgement and experience to determine skills and cultural fit and a degree of intuition built from experience. Technology can’t simply replace the core elements of executive search, because it requires finesse and subtlety to bring two parties [employer and employee] together for mutual benefit.”

Human impact

One aspect of the search professional’s job is to understand and interpret human nature and its impact on the decisions made to facilitate change. Relationships fostered with executives, often over decades, are crucial. Trust is paramount.

“In many ways, we are disrupters, as we engage senior people in life-changing career decisions and this simply can’t be replaced by technology,” says Drew. “Not yet. And, maybe, not ever.” 

Find out more about how Odgers Berndtson executive search can help your company.

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