Local executives replace expats at lead of intl companies in SEE

Irena Bushandrova, Country Manager for Bulgaria at Pedersen & Partners

Pedersen & Partners is an international executive search fi rm, operating 50 offi ces in 47 countries: 33 offi ces in Europe & CIS, 7 offi ces in the Middle East & Africa and 10 offi ces in Asia & the Americas. www.pedersenandpartners.com

How has Southeast Europe’s executive search market been evolving in the past few years?

The demand for senior experts and executives has been rather stable. Corporates are more actively promoting internal candidates and this is indeed a great trend, yet, they also hire professionals externally to bring in special expertise, get fresher look at their business or boost team spirit. The recruitment process itself has become more transparent now that companies use social media to post job advertisements, and even approach potential candidates directly through internal talent recruiters. Since 2008 we see a focused and better organised recruitment process and more stringent requirements when it comes to candidates’ profi le in contrast to the past when business was growing fast, hiring was more aggressive and companies were prone to make concessions.

How long, on average, does it take to recruit a manager in SEE, and is this process longer than in Western Europe?

The executive search process both in SEE and in Western Europe usually takes about four to six weeks on average. To recruit successfully in the region, one must have local presence to be able to reach out to a wide pool of executives and get market recommendations. Managers in some countries in SEE are still conservative when they receive calls from head-hunters and it is a challenge to attract their interest. Another issue is thesmaller pools of professionals in relatively ‘new’ industries in the region such as outsourcing or automotive production given the fact that the SEE countries have been on the way to market economy since the 1990s and we have seen new industries setting foot in these countries since then.

Would global companies rather recruit local or foreign managers for their operations in the region?

We do see a change related to recruitment of local versus foreign managers at global companies. Fifteen years ago the SEE market had high demand for experienced expat professionals who brought in international corporate culture and Western standards. As business developed and expanded, global companies gradually started replacing foreign managers with local executives. A local manager would know the market environment and national mentality better.

Managers tend to be changing their job ever more often. What motivates a manager in SEE to change their job?

Managers are usually motivated by clear, long-term career opportunities, a greater array of responsibilities, challenging goals and more freedom to act. Last but not least managers also look at the corporate environment or culture and take it into consideration when changing jobs. SEE managers are also attracted by the possibility to broaden their experience and work outside their countries.

In which sectors in SEE is demand for managers most acute?

We see greater demand for managers in consumer goods, technology and industrial sectors whilst for example the pharmaceutical industry has become less active in hiring top managers in the last year or so. The demand for managers follows industry trends and is usually most acute in sectors that are in a growth.

How important is an MBA degree when recruiting managers in SEE?

 Employers in SEE defi nitely appreciate an MBA degree and it is always an asset. A large portion of local managers opt for an EMBA or MBA and are eager to learn and develop. Executives in Southeast Europe are well-educated and some usually hold two or three university degrees.

Do you see due diligence of potential managers becoming a common practice in SEE in the coming years?

Now that employers put greater emphasis on personality and ethics, people due diligence would become a must when hiring managers.

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