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Talent mobility and succession trends across Turkey, Middle East and Africa

20 May

Talent mobility and succession trends across Turkey, Middle East and Africa

Once a month we get together as a business, involving all our people across EMEA, for a business development and fact-finding day on a particular topic or region. Last week we focussed on the META region (Middle East, Turkey and Africa) to gain some valuable business insights from our clients across the region, and to reinforce our presence and market intelligence of the region amongst our clients who may planning to expand into any of those markets.

I sat down with Cedric d’Halluin, Head of our Russia and META Region (Middle East, Turkey and Africa), to get his feedback from this event and discuss some of his findings, notably about talent sourcing and succession across the region.

Many corporates across the META region historically relied strongly on expatriates for many of their key positions. However, feedback from businesses across the region following from your recent META region business development day, suggests that there is a very strong push away from that trend and that business now focus on hiring local talent. What you think is behind this?

Hi Jacques, it is not really a new trend. Multinationals have been committed to replacing expatriates with local talent for years now. The motivation behind this were firstly for obvious cost reasons, and secondly to meet their inclusion and diversity objectives. It is not consistent to talk about diversity when you do not trust and empower local people. In some markets, authorities accelerated the slow transition by imposing nationals into certain roles. For example, Saudi Arabia’s agenda for Saudization was first looked at with scepticism. It is now a reality and a success.

Am I correct in my understanding that notwithstanding the preference for local talent, there are some difficulties in sourcing qualified personnel for niche role?

Yes but not in the same way across the META region. Turkey is a net exporter of talent in the region. In contrast, Gulf countries have deficits in talent for many functions. It will take time, but a younger and highly educated generation is emerging. We remember how the “BRICS” markets faced the same challenges in the years 2000. That we know is history already and one can find great talent there.

How do you and your team support clients in sourcing local talent?

Being locally rooted in the region for over a decade certainly helps a lot. Over the years we also grew deep expertise in relocating nationals to their home country. We leverage our global presence to source those META nationals who now live in Europe, US, Canada or Australia and approach them with opportunities that often beat what they are currently doing, both financially and in terms of career growth. Some may not want to return home, but many will consider.

Does this localization of talent mean the end of expatriate employees?

This is a long-term evolution and not all companies are equally promoting diversity just yet. Expatriation is still a way to incubate talent through mobility. There is no better way to spread corporate culture far from the headquarters. However, there is a notable reduction in expatriates coming from the west to the east as more META nationals are heading home after an assignment to European and US head offices.

The SpenglerFox motto is “Talent, grown”. How do you and your Leadership Advisory unit support clients to grow their local talent and reduce the reliance on expatriates?

There is an abundance of local talent present across the META region. Combined with enthusiasm, ambition and resilience, you have an amazing mix of competencies in the region, ready to take over. Some work has to be done to adjust to the mainstream western corporate culture and codes though. Hence, companies invest a lot on nurturing the next generation of leaders with executive coaching, assessment centres and development programs. We play a role in this process by designing and executing development programs from Algiers to Riyadh and Johannesburg to Baghdad. From Executive Search to Leadership Advisory, we are engaged along the entire employment life cycle. Our mission is not over after we find the right talent. We continue to help people grow and develop professionally throughout corporate careers.


To learn more about our office network and human capital solutions across the region, please visit our website


Jacques de Jager

Head of PR & Corporate Communications


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