Interview with Mary Kramer, Global Service Group Leader Human Capital Solutions at SpenglerFox
If we speak specifically about the key services SpenglerFox offers as part of its HCS package, there is strong interest in leadership development across all geographies. If we look at career transition counselling, then there is higher demand for that service in Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Europe compared to other markets, i.e. such as the Middle East and Russia. At present I see that the current wave of M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) processes drives interest in career transition advisory. Overall, it depends on companies‘ individual situations and the overall health of the local economy.
What we do find though, in the Middle East, is that clients are increasingly asking for team building and team effectiveness development services. This is because, in that region specifically, ompanies work with a lot of diverse teams of expats: as concerns nationalities, religions and cultures. There are a lot of mixed backgrounds. So company and organizational management is looking for smoother leadership styles and greater fluidity in team leadership processes.
In our day-to-day advisory we focus, for example, on management style. We had one project in the Middle-East, where we worked closely with an expat GM, who felt his leadership team to be slightly dysfunctional. So for that company we launched a specific tool analysis project: examining how each person’s individual leadership style fit within the style needed for the overall management team. We ran a series of workshops analysing a) how people work in teams; b) what conflicts might arise due to different points of view/levels of experience across the team and c) how to work with and leverage the team members‘ diversity to benefit the entire management team and its common goals. This resulted in our defining a list of actions that could be taken to promote acceptance of diversity and differences in management styles.
Overall, I think it’s a willingness to invest in people. To look at their personal traits and dive below the surface. To be successful, businesses need to look at management team effectiveness and the leadership traits of persons running these teams. At present, I see a lot of our clients expressing interest in competitor benchmarking. This is a service that SpenglerFox has offered for the last 3 years now. Basically, our clients want to know how their business, their organizational structure, their leadership and their employer branding holds up against their competitors. Our clients want business intelligence (BI) data so they can learn how to compete best in the market.
It’s also important to note that businesses’ subsequent approaches to competitor benchmarking processes are as varied as the customers they serve. For example, we had one client come to us with a request to analyse its talent organizational structure. It needed an analysis of the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) business to see how companies treat and work with their employees so as to foster innovation: how do companies motivate employees and business teams to drive innovation. The project involved extensive talks with employees on the topic of innovation and related issues. We did a broad battery of interviews with talent throughout a range of FMCG-oriented organizations.
The degree of our (SpenglerFox’s) input varies according to the situation. In some cases this depends on how far along a client is in a particular process. For example, our counsel could go as far as to recommend stopping a process or, alternatively, working with the client to determine how to make the best of a process that it has already implemented.
Another project we’ve been involved in required a partner for mapping overall candidate and talent perceptions of the regional pharmaceuticals market. The client asked us to look at candidates’ views of different pharmaceutical companies: i.e. what is the company known for? what is its reputation? Some companies are known for innovation, some for career development potential (i.e. job assignments and job rotation), some for compensation packages and some, unfortunately, may have a negative positioning, i.e. be known for something negative such as an autocratic management style for instance.
With the above-mentioned competitor benchmarking projects, it is important to note that penglerFox succeeds in this area, because of the access we have. If you look at leadership and development or career transition services, those projects are usually self-motivated, i.e. the client approaches us with a specific need. However, with competitor benchmarking, tat type of support evolves from good, long-standing relationships and internal discussions of client needs. We usually sit down with clients to discuss and assess how decisions are taken within the company and how the company analyses what it expects to happen on the market. We work through a number of question sets to determine how benchmarking services might ultimately benefit the client.
I’d like to wrap up my answer here with a mention of our Time to Perform (Executive Onboarding) support services. I think this is an important part of our HCS offering and it’s something that might not be familiar to everyone. What we look to do with this service is support new talent in a company or existing talent, who have recently undertaken a new role. We take on the role of career coach for these executives. We help management teams to understand where the new recruits are coming from, what challenges they see for the business, etc. Meanwhile, we also work to liaise with the onboarding executive on the company’s vision for their leadership role (i.e. based on our long-term experience working for the given client. We provided this type of coaching for two General Managers recently in a leading multinational beverage company.
Although it’s not a new service per se, it is a new form of support for executive roles and can be offered as an add-on service to executive search projects. We adapt our onboarding counsel to the specific needs of our clients; in most cases focusing on mutual understanding (executive to business and vice versa) of business needs and on further honing new executives’ soft skills where necessary.
Technology has facilitated the practice of virtual teams. I’ve seen a strong rise in the number of virtual teams; it’s getting bigger and bigger. While virtual structures used to apply to specific business areas, they are now going broader. I think you have to be careful how you manage use of technologies though: you need that initial focus on face-to-face encounters. It’s important to have personal contact before letting management teams evolve into virtual set-ups. Also when working in teams driven by technologies allowing for virtual presence, you need to bear in mind generational factors. Younger people may take online chats or video calls as a given, while older generations may lack a feel for how to communicate using these products.
It’s clear that the cost-cutting aspect of tech is valuable for companies, but management teams do need an awareness that these same technologies change how negotiating is done; how people act and behave. They require greater levels of awareness and a need to notice nuances or subtleties in conversations. Then there is the issue of managers and their employees never “turning off”. Businesses have to weigh the potential negative consequences of that new reality.
Generally though, I think the proliferation of tech inside businesses affords management teams many opportunities. We see more managers going virtual, which allows them to expand their teams and to work in wider groups. We also see more talent being brought to management teams from remote areas; thanks to the connections new technologies make possible. Technologies also help businesses (in some cases) work around relocation issues. Overall, I think technologies are a benefit to business growth and management processes. But they can be difficult to use properly, provided the strong, good, underlying personal relationships are not in place. You need to build the personal behind the tech to make it work.
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.