This report may as well be titled: ‘Good times are here again’.
At varying rates, markets around the world are rising out of the trough of the slowdown. Companies are beginning to take stock of their current – and long-term – management needs, and opening their doors to talented senior-level hires tasked with achieving success in a highly competitive global marketplace.
Companies in the US and Europe, particularly, are willing to invest top dollar in hiring and developing key senior talent. In the UK, digital economy and infrastructure are creating a demand for skilled senior professionals, and prospects are looking better all around.
But the real story is in emerging markets. The slowdown did not hit some economies as hard as the others, and these economies are now looking to compete aggressively by bringing in experienced professionals with exposure to global markets and trends. In a recent survey, companies in Taiwan (+39%), India (+33%) and New Zealand (+21%) reported the strongest first-quarter hiring plans. Meanwhile, Singapore’s net employment outlook is only just below New Zealand’s, making it clear which direction your compass should point, this year.
European companies with a foothold in Singapore and Southeast Asia are boosting their presence here, with a view to taking advantage of emerging growth opportunities. CFOs, supply chain managers, business development and senior sales professionals are in demand. The region is financially stable and protected from volatility, further adding to its attractiveness.
Regional sales leadership and technical positions in the enterprise sales sector are in demand in Singapore, as many companies look at upgrading their systems. There is a lot of interest in Pan-Asia emerging economies such as Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia, leading to a boost in recruitment there.
Meanwhile, ageing populations across countries in Asia have served as impetus to the healthcare sector. In this sector, the ability to expand beyond borders and develop international networks by adopting a customer-centric approach is key. In the context of medical tourism and greater cost-consciousness among patients, this means aggressive hiring at the senior/ managerial levels.
On other fronts, increasingly, head-hunters are looking for profiles that bring together key functions of finance, marketing and sales. The focus is on bringing in senior talent with experience of working in large and diversified companies and who have a background in data analytics. If you have also worked in a smaller, more cost-conscious organisation, then that further qualifies you as a well-rounded professional. Over time, we are going to witness the merging of CIO and CMO roles, as technology and marketing roles continue to overlap.
China is hiring for C-level professionals in consumer goods and retail sectors, especially at the regional head level. Professionals with knowledge of Greater China or Asia-Pacific markets have the advantage. Where financial services are concerned, people are watching keenly for the establishment of the new free trade zone in Shanghai and its impact on business.
India is hiring for senior profiles in manufacturing, mining and construction, finance, insurance and real estate. But most of all, the country is looking to sell technology services to the world, for which IT firms are refreshing senior-level talent and reprioritising core HR areas such as talent development to develop next-generation leaders.
On the whole, in developed Asian economies, this year, the demand for talent in the business services sector will exceed 50%, and demand for talent in life sciences will grow by 8.2%.
Middle East and Africa
Even when economies were down, the Middle East and Africa saw strong demand for leadership talent, especially in core sectors such as energy. Companies are looking for higher returns from oil and gas fields and focusing on cutting costs involved in field development activity. JVs, farm-ins, divestments and production sharing agreements are rife, and you need strong leadership to make sure these go through smoothly. There is demand for senior executives with exposure to technical, government relations, social responsibility and supply chain capabilities in the energy sector. Professionals with expertise in development of mature assets and field production opportunities are particularly in demand.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE are investing heavily in infrastructure and hiring for senior-level profiles in government and semi-government institutions. Ever since Dubai landed the bid to host World Expo 2020, the pace has become feverish, kick-starting massive investments in services and infrastructure.
In Africa, as consumer and retail sectors grow, creative and technologically savvy strategy and marketing talent is in demand. Working with a diverse and sophisticated market of highly aspirational and informed customers builds complexity into every business model, and companies are looking for those who can make sense of it all – even as they bring winning strategies to the table.
A significant number of multinationals are looking at Africa for their next growth wave; 7 of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are located on the African continent. Professionals with an understanding of the complexities of operating across the enormous diversity in this region are, naturally, in great demand. Supply chain, manufacturing and operations skills, in particular, will take you places.
Senior HR roles are in demand everywhere, but particularly so in Africa. The demand for high-level HR strategies that drive the delivery of commercial strategy has made this function indispensable. HR professionals with talent management expertise enjoy a real advantage, particularly in the areas of engaging and retaining a global workforce.
Ever since the Liberal Party was elected, there has been an uptick in hiring expectations in Australia. The competition for senior-level execs is heating up, and mining and resources projects are looking to grab a chunk of the action in this sphere. If you have expertise in mining, you would do well to explore opportunities with the large LNG companies in Northern Australia.
Sales and marketing are in demand in Brazil. The aim is to maximize profitability in the face of a slowing economy. Even though salary levels have dropped, smaller companies are offering stock options to senior hires.
The Global View
Profiles in financial services, IT, retail and hospitality remain in demand, in almost all countries.
The slowdown has made companies more aware of the importance of adopting financially sound policies, and compliance, regulatory and risk professionals are in great demand.
In the insurance and securities industries, the focus is on profiles in operations and technology, product development, wealth management, capital and risk management. With a view to cutting costs and increasing efficiency, head-hunters are going after senior professionals in the financial and IT sectors.
In some cases, senior finance professionals have received salary hikes of 35-40% in 2013, as opposed to the 15% levels seen a couple of years ago.
Where technology is concerned, even at the Board level, CIOs are in high demand and a growing influence. Technology is being seen not only as a means to achieve cost savings, but also to create a competitive market edge. Companies are fully aware that technology can change and improve the way they interact with customers. The CIO function is the best place to start to achieve that.
A recent study found that technology is now succeeding in doing what business executives have long demanded: bringing more of a business focus to IT operations. 45% of CIOs now report to the CEO, 27% to the CFO, and just 9% to a business unit executive.
Soft skills are a key asset for senior executives everywhere and there is growing demand for experienced female candidates who are generally considered to be adept at achieving a balance between technical and emotional intelligence.
Across borders, there is high demand for profiles in Business Development, Sales, Technology, Operations, and Strategy/ Business Planning. For job seekers at the Director, VP and SVP levels, you will need to be a complete package, bundling not only functional knowledge in your own sphere but also mental agility, strategic thinking, an appetite for risk taking, creativity, openness to innovation and adaptability. In compensation, look beyond salary and be open to creative, alternative rewards for your work.
Make sure you’re taking advantage of the latest senior roles available by searching Career Intelligence. Ensure your job alerts are set up so you receive an email alert each time a role fitting your criteria is added. Take advantage of the growth in 2014 for securing your new career move.