Jens Friedrich, CEO at SpenglerFox, assesses his first six months at the helm of the global executive search firm after successfully completing a Management Buy Out (“MBO”) of the company last summer and outlines the challenges that lie ahead for the business during the remainder of 2018 and the years to come.
One of my most critical priorities, post the MBO, was to ensure that all interest parties maintained trust and confidence in the business and also to ensure the business didn´t lose any trading momentum because of the distractions caused by the MBO process. Given we were building up into the typically slower summer period at the very time of the transaction, it was important the business would not get additionaly distracted. At the same time it was crucial we addressed our team’s anxieties and undoubted questions that they would have relating to the firms changes as swiftly and efficiently as possible. To address the challenges, I spoke to as many employees as possible, listening to their views and answering their questions as best I could.
Additionally, I worked with our marketing team to set up a structured communications process. One of the first initiatives was to conduct a thorough staff survey across the company. After gathering and assessing the results, we followed up with a company-wide virtual town hall (webinar) so that we could discuss important issues as a group. We received a lot of positive feedback from our team. This was a crucial indicator that our staff were responding to and appreciative of our efforts to involve them as much as possible in the transition process. Perhaps not surprisingly, these discussions uncovered additional matters that we hadn’t previously thought of, before concluding the MBO. Such discussions ran the gamut, from how do we address new employment contracts, to establishing governance for internal and external communications. I spent a lot of time with my team working through best ways to address all the aspects related to entering this new period for the firm.
Diversification and utilising our people’s strengths. The key to this has been placing people into the right roles, roles in which they will have the highest impact on the business and from which they will get the highest level of satisfaction. My personal focus has been to carefully select the leadership team, as this group will be leading by example and will undoubtly have a significant impact on the focus and positive involvement of all other team members. Another major aspect was to empower and give key people accountability for critical projects. For example we have developed a new talent management and learning & development programme which was rolled out in December 2017. This initiative is led by one of my partners and Country Managers. I also formed a new executive board to act in both the shareholders’ and the company’s best interest and added trusted independent board advisors for additional constructive and high impact support.
The shift in ownership has clearly reprioritised our focus in creating a competitive advantage for the business while delivering a more consistent and enhanced customer experience. Our emphasis is now on continuous improvement as well as diversification of our services. We are in the process of strengthening our strategic partner network and also widening our global geographical footprint, through exploring opportunities in new emerging markets such as Israel, where we have recently signed a new alliance. Additionally, we have introduced new services and products, such as Recruitment Process Outsourcing and we are building a Technology practice to add to our core vertical expertise.
Overall we are in the process of revitalizing our true core values, whilst at the same time in a positive way challenging the status quo and reinvigorating our firms strong DNA and culture. Given we are now the owners of the SpenglerFox business, such significant change in the business ensures that we are empowered to drive the business and to shape it´s future in the best interest of all stakeholders.
Our client responses have been overwhelmingly positive. We haven´t missed an opportunity to share the positive changes that the MBO has had on our business, particularly when in personal meetings with our clients and have experienced tremendous support and backing for our entrepreneurial endeavor. Very encouraging for the future of our business.
I have also made sure we had a continuous flow of internal opinions and views on the MBO transformation process. That way we could use staff feedback to inform and guide the process and react to concerns in a timely manner. Other internal activities have focused on reviewing our business operations and expenditures. Moving forward we have spent a considerable amount of time rationalizing our business cost profile, planning how best to use company resources as efficiently as possible, while at the same time ensuring that the DNA our entrepreneurial spirit has, continues to flourish.
As a business, one of our key objectives is that we continue to offer services to our clients that are consistent, sustainable and reliable, whilst also ensuring that we retain our existing client base and grow in the future in new sectors and jurisdictions. Ultimately, by ensuring our clients are satisfied, perhaps even exceed their expectations, our future is bright. My focus and that of my partners is to continue to drive the business in that direction.
At SpenglerFox we believe in care, appreciation, understanding and making a positive difference to people's lives through our talent processes. The business is built to serve and add value to our clients organisations. This will always stay at the forefront of what we are doing.
Internally we will prioritise on the personal development, involvement and empowerment of our own people and ensure everyone has a clear sense of direction. In these times of change and beyond, this will be clear success factor. Other aspects will be linked to topics like digitalization, which I believe will have a major influence on how we and our clients will innovate in the coming years.
New technologies will shape and influence the services we provide. We will be ramping up our activities in the Tech space and explore how latest technologies impact our other practice groups. Additionally, I believe the manner in which technologies are penetrating the workplace will overtake cultural and gender diversity issues as a top concern for businesses around the globe. We will certainly be speaking more and more to our clients about their tech transformation.
Besides that, diversification of our service portfolio is on top of my list. The traditional Executive Search service is reshaping and we aim to innovate, leave a mark, and be at the forefront of this transformation.
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.