We were briefed by a global services organization that sought to employ in HK a Sales Director to lead their local operation (a Greenfield role). Offering a range of services inclusive of CRM, e commerce, digital, social and BPO solutions they sought to recruit a senior executive that was managing and servicing the financial services and insurance sectors across the Asia Pacific region.
Although well positioned in Europe and China there existed a credibility gap in HK with respect to clients, and the ability to attract qualified executives hinged on several key factors. Notably our client represented themselves as being quite entrepreneurial, a fact supported by the market and key executives (internal) interviewed prior to taking on this mandate. The ability to operate fairly autonomously and with considerable flexibility, with support from their head office, should attract executives seeking greater freedom from which to operate.
With no adequate base in HK it was clearly determined during the briefing phase that we should be seeking to attract executives that also deem themselves to be entrepreneurial, thereby securing a strong cultural fit.
It is fair to suggest that our client did not enjoy a favourable reputation in HK being better known for their adherence to matters operational, and unable to compete favourably with their seasoned competitors in the areas of digital and social media, customer analytics, customer segmentation etc, where exceptional IT systems and supporting organizational structure (including on-going investment programmes) to be in place.
By canvassing several of their clients we soon determined whilst they did enjoy a strong profile, there existed a mismatch between investment pertaining to traditional operational V’s new age technology further dampening our ability to attract.
Over the course of 6 weeks we made contact with 93 executives including the Sales Director of a high profile global agency offering a wide range of related business services inclusive of customer analytics, risk services, customer acquisition and customer management services.
Interestingly we made contact with this key HK based executive on five occasions, only to be rebuffed each time. On the sixth time I asked her the following question which ultimately led to us sharing an informal coffee chat. “Do you regard yourself as entrepreneurial? If so how might you qualify your response?” By clearly outlining to her the views of our client pertaining to their entrepreneurial culture and their desire to attract an executive with corresponding drivers and qualities, we were able to secure acceptance and a small dose of confidence.
Following approximately 5 informal meetings over the following month, we were able to secure the interest of this executive and following a day long session in Shanghai she was unanimously selected to join their team.
Five months into her tenure this impressive executive was made redundant as the decision makers in Europe decided to abandon their venture into HK. Needless to say she and I were most devastated, with an urgent call to action required on my part.
As I personally felt a huge responsibility with regards this highly undesirable outcome we took this executive on as a special crusade in order to secure for her an outstanding career pathway. Considering that she enjoyed a terrific network within the financial services business community, enjoying a strong pedigree in the areas of customer analytics, customer segmentation, risk management and digital media, and coupled with the fact that she had been a consistent high achiever (sales) for the majority of her career, we were quite confident of a successful outcome. Oh and she is decidedly tenacious with exquisite networking skills.
We suggested a suitable senior position with a global management consultancy would be a preferred option. She needed little coaxing with only the target to be determined and accepted. When we suggested the target consultancy and noting her well grounded financial services (orientated) career pathway to date, there was no “push back” only enthusiasm. We did not predict that other options would prevail.
We called upon the MD Financial Services of the targeted consultancy only to be greeted with mild scepticism, to discover later that they had been searching the HK community for about 12 months seeking such a profile. A meeting was arranged.
During the final phase of client interviewing another global consultancy offered this executive a similar position. In complete fairness and with total objectivity we met to discuss both career pathways without reference to the merits of the final offer (remuneration inclusive of soft benefits).
It was agreed that she accept an offer from our client.
This executive is in possession of the following key skills and experience that was deemed most worthy by our client:
a) Enjoys an outstanding regionally based network within the financial services community.
b) Enjoys a history (10 years +) of overachievement within solution selling roles.
c) Technically proficient in the areas of consumer analytics, customer behaviour and acquisition, risk management, decision analytics and digital and social media.
d) Skilled at networking and drawing C level management to her point of view.
e) Culturally adaptable and decidedly tenacious.
f) Team orientated and able to manoeuvre stake holders to a common goal.
g) Excellent consulting skills.
h) Abreast with current technologies.
i) Adept at problem solving.
j) Interpersonal and influencing skills.
Almost 20 months later this MD Financial Services is literally career flying with several new clients secured and meeting her budgetary expectations with a host of executives “singing her praises.” The many executives that we have since met have reinforced what a tremendous appointment this to be. Her immediate manager is simply thrilled.
The mark of industry recognition is to be widely accepted by your peers and in this respect our placed executive is fast becoming a strategic and important contributor and member of the HK Financial Services team.