Insider Media: Ask the Expert

BMC Recruitment Group’s Senior/ Executive division leader, Nicola Reid, gives her opinion on career moves for top execs in today’s World…

What makes a business leader move role?

In a year so far that’s seen the UK leave the EU, the spread of coronavirus and a rise in veganism of over 300% (since 2019), 2020’s proving to be interesting; so anything is possible and change is afoot!

I’ve been recruiting executive, senior and board level appointments across all sectors for over 20 years. As a result, I have an understanding founded on experience of what very successful people desire in their next career move.

I invest time in gaining insight into the motivators, goals and aspirations of my candidates to ensure their next move is the best fit for them and for the needs of the businesses and boards they join too. The words I hear more often than not in conversation with high-level candidates seeking a career move are: ‘challenge’, ‘change’, ‘transformation’, ‘impact’ and ‘autonomy’. In my experience, an executive is most attracted to a new role if it offers them the autonomy to use their skills to make an impact on an organisation and effect transformational change.

I have also found the changes being rolled out across the private sector concerning IR35 are prompting many senior leaders to transition back into longer term/full time opportunities although they also cite the issue of seeing the longer term outcomes of their work as a key factor influencing career moves.


What sets the North East Apart?

While the average length of time a CEO spends in their role recently fell below the global average, of 5 years, falling to 4.8 years, the North East’s business leaders at the helm are usually loyal and passionate and almost always they leave a business only when they feel they’ve done all they can to drive it forward. People leading businesses and boards here in the North East tend to stay in their roles for a longer period of time which can usually be attributed to the sense of community here at least in part.


Headhunting is a mutual thing

Reputation precedes presence, particularly in close-knit communities like the North East. Attracting the best talent often means ensuring the values a leader holds close are aligned with.

I find in my role that people looking to move between senior roles already cherry-pick the places they’d be happy to switch to and equally, they already rule out others. Of course for some people, they’re looking to turn a business around, and if so, part of the attraction is to join a business where they can illicit change and reverse perceptions so all hope is not lost with businesses which require an overhaul.

A number of my high-level candidates seek to join companies with a real buzz about them such as those with progressive attitudes, policies and values (or at least they aspire to be somewhere they can help create these). Flexible working, ethical procedures, workplace cultures which nurture mental health, fair pay policies, innovation and equality and diversity (among others) remain big issues for many business leaders. If this type of infrastructure is not in place, being part of the change is often at the forefront of the minds of leaders I have worked with.


Executive team diversity needs some work

It’s unacceptable that women are still grossly underrepresented in executive teams. In November 2019 Britain’s top 100 firms were found to have just 6 female CEOs.

In the Government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, companies succeeding in business most effectively were those in the top quartile for executive team diversity. Equality and success are synonymous! While I’m seeing a paradigmatic shift in terms of the attitude towards diversity in the workplace, which has been building momentum in recent years, we’ve got a long way to go!


Retaining talent

This is always a difficult one with executives given their leadership usually forms the basis of a great place to work and this cascades down to other staff working for them. The most important part of any job is usually culture and the people who work there; both of these are hard to change but the best leaders can!


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