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Global demand for senior executives still high

Stanton Chase International picks ‘diversity’ as top skill global executives must have

Top officials from a leading global executive search firm said the senior executive consultant market is still in high demand around the world despite the global economic slowdown.

Speaking in an interview with The Korea Herald this week, the board members of Stanton Chase International stressed that the senior executive search business has become more competitive to satisfy the clients’ needs.

“The trend in the U.K. is slightly different (from that in the EU) because Europe is in a recession,” SCI chairman George Cross said, referring to the ongoing financial crisis which caused numerous EU-based business corporations to restructure.

According to Cross, one who can run a business when it’s growing is often very different from one who can run it when it’s crashing.

“If the economy’s really booming they’ll go with people from the sales or marketing background, because they just want to grow sales. If the market hits a recession, they can often switch and promote the finance director because all they’ll (want to) do is to chop out costs, and of course get the cash flow right,” he said.
Stanton Chase International chairman George Cross. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
Stanton Chase International chairman George Cross. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

The growing executive market has led Stanton Chase International to form partnerships with other organizations, especially with the American Association of Executive Search Consultants, which Stanton Chase managing director and vice chairman Ward Garven calls “the top brand organization in the world for quality.”

“The executive search market, where we specialize, at the most senior level on the global basis with very specific skills is growing,” Garven said.

SCI picked “diversity” as the top priority skill that a global senior executive candidate must have.

The firm also stressed that diversity is not just about language skills, but more about global capacity and leadership, which mostly comes from strong professionalism in specialized fields.

SCI pointed out that the global conglomerates are becoming gender-neutral, which is best represented by prominent female CEOs of global business giants, such as new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, now in her sixth month of pregnancy.

The innovative global business corporations don’t discriminate on a candidate’s gender, acccording to the SCI. “Quantitative experience and a proven success story” are what these firms are looking at, SCI vice chairman and head of practice groups Mickey Matthews said.

Touching on the Korean market, company officials said Korea has been relatively late in joining the global human capital market compared to Europe and North America due to the Korean culture where nationality has played a significant role in taking up the leader’s position in business.

Kim Kuk-gil, chairman of Stanton Chase Korea, said, “Now Korean conglomerates are looking at ideal business leaders from different angles.”

He said that big Korean firms such as Hanwha, Doosan and Woongjin now prefer senior executives with a background in engineering, unlike in the past when those with a business management background occupied most key positions.

Finding proper candidates for senior executive positions at such companies can be very demanding since they have to be well experienced in certain fields without being near retirement age in order to avoid legal complexities, he said

Female students who want to become top global senior executives should concentrate on leveraging strong leadership and professionalism rather than sticking solely to academic studies and foreign languages, SCI Korea head Kim said.

Established in 1990, Stanton Chase International is one of the leading global executive search firms. The executive search consulting company operates through focused industry practice groups, each led by a global practice team leader.

KK Consulting Inc. joined Stanton Chase International to become Stanton Chase Korea on Jan. 1, 2012.

By Chung Joo-won (
Korea Herald Youtube