The rise of low-cost airlines means that international travel is no longer the obstacle it used to be for professionals. Indeed, for some it’s nothing more than a weekly commute. With this in mind, it makes sense that corporations should consider candidates at a global – or at least international level – rather than just what’s on their doorstep, when making board appointments.
In a country that is as culturally diverse as it is populated – the UK population now stands at 62 million – one could be forgiven for limiting their search to the British Isles. However, when you begin to factor in the various, specific requirements of your company, you may quickly find that the pool of qualified candidates is worryingly small and that in a world with more than six billion inhabitants perhaps it would be beneficial to expand the radius of your search. From our experience the main reason given by client companies for not considering international candidates is the perceived high remuneration packages they would expect.
When a client company approaches an executive search firm the one thing they have on their agenda more often than not is; 'Can we get top talent to fill our executive position and will we be compromising on talent because we are now under downward salary constraints?'
The reality is that top executives will look at an opportunity on its full merit and not just the remuneration package. Hence we urge our clients to cast the net as far and wide as possible and remove geographical boundaries when seeking to make a high calibre appointment.
Top executives consider a range of factors when presented with an opportunity: What is the scope of development for this corporation? How central to that development will this role be? Is this opportunity going to provide me with the required exposure for the development of my own career? How committed is the company to achieving its goals? What mistakes have they made in the past? Have they learned from the mistakes they have made in the past? Who else is on the exec team? If I am in a succession planning path in this position, will I grow and develop my experience under the stewardship of the current CEO?
You may have noticed that remuneration for a top executive is not on the list above. Yes, it's a major piece of the puzzle and one which is never over looked. However, its weight is just as important as each of the above topics, which must be considered before examining a new career opportunity for any exec. Thus these are all questions the corporation should ask of itself when developing its offering.
What is most important for your business is ensuring that you have a clear and in-depth understanding of what the position will entail in order to select the right person for the job. Too many corporations do not give this area enough consideration; they don't analyse the full skillset required of the potential appointee; they don't factor in future challenges that the succeeding board member may face. This can have serious repercussions for the firm as the result is often an underequipped appointee, lacking in the skills to drive the business forward in the expected fashion. So many major corporations, which were household names, are suffering as a direct result and are struggling to survive today.
In summary, my advice to HR directors is to consider the various social, cultural and professional benefits your company can offer to any prospective executive or non-executive appointee. Britain is a country with so much to offer. In the past year alone, London has dropped seven places (to 25th) on the World Cost of Living Survey, yet the standard of living remains one of the highest in Europe. Dipping into the global talent pool and considering all options for your next appointment can only have a positive effect on your business.
John Harty is a director at Harty International, UK & Ireland Executive Search firm