Evita Fragkogianni: In what kind of change process(es) have you been involved?
Christina Exarchou: During myemployment at Reuters, I was involved intwo global initiatives. The first one was the transformation of HR and Functions,through few design and delivery model for both functions globally. That was a cost saving exercise resulting in massive redundancies. We had to keep the engagement and commitment at the right level, retain talent and at the same time secure business as usual. The huge change management involved training to all population on new processes and systems and also educate people on how to facilitate their job with the new shared services model (employee and manager self-service). The project rolled out in 2004 and spanned 18 months. The second one was the merge of Reuters with Thomson in 2008. This was a very challenging project with global impact across all functions, policies, processes, systems and operations. The project was completed in just 9 months with full harmonization in place. Another additional difficulty was the fact that the merge had to remain confidential until the due diligence was completed.
Evita Fragkogianni: What kind of role did you have during the process?
Christina Exarchou: In both cases I was the Head of HR for Central & Eastern Europe (including Russia, Turkey & Israel). I was also part of the project steering committee again on both initiatives. My role was to implement the strategic initiatives which formed part of the company’s vision for success. This task had lots of angles: provide legal guidance, work with the management on actual implementation, identify risk and work on mitigation plans, communicate the changes and what it meant to the employees, show the benefits to the business and people. It was crucial to communicate everything clearly and help people feel secure during a period of such change. We worked on career and developments plans to retain high flyers/talents and performed role assessment in order to identify the skills needed to drive and support the business, i.e. making sure we had the right bench strength to support the organization. We worked with work council on communicating the changes and get the green light. Last but not least, we had to maintain and even increase the engagement.
Evita Fragkogianni: What would you say, was the most challenging part through that change?
Christina Exarchou: The most challenging part was definitely getting the communication right. We had to communicate the changes demonstrating it was for the greater good. Employeeswanted to understand how the change would add value to their work lives and what the benefits would be.
Evita Fragkogianni: What did surprise you most?
Christina Exarchou: I would not say we had any surprises. I believe the key for that was the clear, transparent and engaging communication from top down. Targeted communication was done at all phases and employees knew from the beginning what was coming. We had prepared outplacement or retention plans. Also the assessment on people were done in full transparency. Another important factor was the right project planning. We had done serious and detailed preparatory work, we had set milestones and assessed risks and potential consequences.
Evita Fragkogianni: Retaining talent could be one of the most important missions during such a change process – what did you/your company do, to retain the talent?
Christina Exarchou: This was indeed a very important mission especially during the merge where various opportunities came out from the acquisition and we had role transitions as well. What we did and was very successful was that we involved top talent from both parties (Reuters and Thomson) in the process. Top talent, as they had been identified through annual performance appraisals and talent workshops, formed part of a cross- functional steering committee which provided useful input throughout the implementation. They would advise for example, what’s the best way to communicate this change to the client. In that way, it was not a project handled by HR only, there was significant input and help from different stakeholders making them part of the future.
Evita Fragkogianni: Is the retained talent still at your company?
Christina Exarchou: Talent was retained at least for two years that I had evidence. Most of them evolved in their roles and assumed additional responsibilities. This was more applicable to certain functions than others. Today I believe still 50% are there – it has been a while anyway.
Evita Fragkogianni: With your today’s experience and looking back at the change process then, would you do anything different?
Christina Exarchou: Looking back at the merge process, I see that the 9 months we had set as a timeframe for the full harmonization was too stressed as a target. Switching from one software to another at all locations across the globe was too demanding. We could have had a lighter software deployment system, I guess.
Evita Fragkogianni: Is there anything you took away from the changing process?
Christina Exarchou: For a change to be successful communication is key! The acquisition or any change has to be well managed and planned, it is a project. You have to be transparent and pragmatic with people, show them the benefits, make them part of it. You also need to take into consideration the differences of each region (for example the culture or the particular legal frame) and adjust your channel of communication. A change process is definitely a challenging, stressful and demanding period but it is also a learning experience.
SpenglerFox are pleased to announce a strategic alliance with Cowley Brown Recruitment which will see both companies look to grow and expand their retained executive search business in Ireland. Cowley Brown is based in Dublin with a mix of retained and contingency search business mainly in the Irish healthcare sector and as a consequence, also in the UK and Middle East. SpenglerFox is a leading retained global Search & HR services firm, with Irish heritage, across multiple territories serving both the mature and emerging markets. This new alliance will target the retained executive search business in the Irish market with an initial focus on C-suite roles in Life Sciences and related sectors, but will also create an opportunity for Cowley Brown to engage with SpenglerFox jointly on assignments in other countries around the globe. Through this strategic alliance both companies will bring considerable added value to their respective domestic and international clients, Cowley Brown having successfully built up a considerable local footprint in Ireland and SpenglerFox having a strong international brand as a retained executive search expert, with a wide international reach for sourcing the best talent for their clients. Jens Friedrich, CEO of SpenglerFox, added ‘’Following our Management Buy Out in 2017 we have been focussing on increasing our specialised expert industry knowledge as well as expanding our geographical reach and Ireland has been a priority market on our radar. We are delighted to form this new alliance with Ken and his Team at Cowley Brown. Such an alliance will give SpenglerFox the executive search exposure in the ever improving Irish market, while also continuing to strengthen our Life Sciences practice and serving our international clients who are expanding into the Irish economy.‘’ Ken Cowley, Director of Cowley Brown, is very excited about this new alliance for his firm, and says; ‘’We feel this was the perfect time for us to strike this arrangement with the team at SpenglerFox due to the continuing growth in the Irish economy and our own growth over the last 12-18 months. We have seen an ever increasing demand from our clients for assistance in helping to fill key C-Suite roles, so we are very much looking forward to the prospect of tapping in to the resourcing strength, market-specific expertise, and the global reach that our new business colleagues at SpenglerFox will provide. Also, we feel that the values of our two organisations are highly aligned, with a massive level of enthusiasm for finding top talent and for putting our clients at the centre of everything we do.’’ Both companies feel that there continues to be significant opportunities in the Irish market, as both FDI and indigenous Irish companies continue to expand. The combined set of strengths of both teams, as well as the level and quality of existing contacts and candidate-reach, means that ambitious targets are being set by the new strategic alliance, and both companies are very much looking forward to an exciting future, collaborating on multiple assignments together, both in Ireland and internationally in the best interest of our respective clients.
The Budapest Business Journal – Book of Lists 2018/2019 is an industry guide unique to Hungary and provides company data of 2,500 of the largest companies in more than 70 fields. We are pleased to share that SpenglerFox ranked 3rd amongst Executive Search firms in Hungary. I am delighted once again by this recognition of our services to the Hungarian market. Since our Budapest office first opened in 2005 we have been continuously identifying the very best senior executive talent for our clients businesses. As we now enter the second year of our MBO in 2017 our team in Budapest is continuing to grow and our Research team strengthened to further support our client and candidates as they evolve. Jens Friedrich, CEO
Delighted to gather our entire company in Frankfurt one year post our MBO for two packed days of relationship building, learning and fun. Since our MBO in July 2017 this was the first All Staff event, there was an incredible atmosphere and energy, we certainly needed the energy to help us through the networking, workshops and of course the party! No event is ever complete without an award ceremony, so we presented our staff with more than 10 years tenure travel vouchers, we’re really proud that 50% of our Foxes have been with SpenglerFox between 5 and 14 years! Damien Stork, Chris Beedle and Dan Godsall from Chamonix Hard Cross joined us on day two to take us through their Personal Eco System program. Showing and reminding us why our environment, sleep, exercise and nutrition can help our mental performance, and find more time for that work/life balance. It was great to get the family together once again, so many friendships strengthened, already looking forward to the next. Jens Friedrich, CEO.