It is not quite a return to pre-2008, but executive search for really good talent is beginning to heat up again.
The companies on the hunt for this talent, however, are different this time around. A reporter recently asked me if I was beginning to see a flow of candidates from Heinz and Kraft due to the recently announced acquisition of Kraft by Heinz owner 3G Capital or from P&G as they continue their brand portfolio restructuring initiatives. The answer is yes, but nobody wants them; at least, not yet.
It’s nothing personal, but the reality is that much of the current activity is happening at smaller companies who are in the first stage of growing and scaling. Resources at these companies may be limited, and entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit run high. Many of these smaller company clients love the blue chip sales and marketing pedigree, but they want to see how the candidates have successfully transitioned away from the mothership and proven they can apply their experience and skills in a smaller company environment.
It’s not that their executive search won’t take a gamble on big company candidate profiles, but they really need to be convinced the candidate can apply the experience and skills acquired in the $ 50 billion to hit the ground running in a $ 50 million company. I’m of course generalizing a bit to make a point, but here are two executive search takeaways:
- If you are in a big, mega CPG company, it’s probably not as big as one would think since chances are you may be working within a division, a brand, or a category (a separate profit center) which is quite a bit smaller than the sum of the whole. And with all the cost-cutting, you are working in more of a limited resource environment than one would think.
- As you have the opportunity, look at the smaller, scrappier (possibly riskier) opportunities, as these smaller companies can be professionally, personally, and financially rewarding. You’ll be a big fish in a smaller pond, can make a bigger difference, and have more control over your own destiny. Plus, you’ll have a lot of fun.