Executive Search in Egypt
By Ahmad M. Ismail, Country Manager for Egypt
Optimistic Outlook for Egypt
Egypt emerged from the economic crisis of 2008-2010 reasonably untouched mainly to strong regulation of its banking sector and low susceptibility to downturn in the international financial markets since the country is not yet wellintegrated into these markets. Other favorable factors were considerable amount of public investment, strong domestic consumption and continued growth in such key sectors as telecommunications and construction.
The majority of businesses show optimism in their outlook for the future. According to data from the CEO Economic Outlook Survey conducted by Egypt's International Economic Forum, 81% of CEOs viewed the current state of the Egyptian economy favorably and almost 80% of the respondents were confident that their companies can successfully weather current and coming economic conditions. Additionally, Egypt has strategic positioning, which often makes it a natural point for the European and Middle East firms for launching operations across the African continent.
Executive Landscape in Egypt
Egypt’s management talent pool is characterised by a vast and expanding landscape of executives that are well educated and possess diverse experience from regional roles in the multinational companies or from working in the Gulf region, Europe or the USA. Additionally, managers in Egypt are multi-lingual with multi-cultural background, which is a big advantage for international firms seeking to expand operations to this market and hire local executives in leadership roles. The demand for the local managers is now on the rise, especially since some organisations are shifting their regional head quarters from Dubai to Cairo. The strongest demand for executives is in the telecommunications, consumer products, real estate and pharmaceuticals sectors, which are currently experiencing growth and are fuelled by exporting and regional expansion, as well as growing purchasing power and domestic consumption.
For Egypt’s executives the local market is also becoming increasingly attractive due to optimistic economic outlook and attractive compensation for top managers, which is becoming comparable to that in the MENA region. We are also observing a trend of management talent returning home from the Gulf and the USA.
Another interesting development is that multinationals are now not the only ones who offer attractive compensation packages for senior executives. Large local companies are also vying for top professionals and ensure competitive compensation for them. It is common to see now the executives moving from multinational companies to local ones attracted by both pay and status, such as prestigious job title/profile.
Increase in salaries was championed by the banking and telecom sectors, as the competition in these sectors for top talent is the most intense, followed by the pharma, Oil & Gas, and consumer products sectors. Posts in high demand are within the finance function - CFO, Financial Director, Investment, Risk, Compliance and Internal Audit - triggered by both the trend towards going public and legal requirements related to IPOs, and also by desire of the organisations to streamline their operations and become more cost-effective.
These trends also affected the HR function: it is now maturing as the HR managers now need to understand strategic objectives of their organisations in order to be able to set up HR programs and procedures adequate for attracting and retaining key leadership talent. The demand for HR professionals has been on the rise for some years now, but a hike could be sensed recently.
Sales and marketing executives are still maintaining their strong position, with sales taking the lead for the past few years.
A new function that is now emerging on the executive landscape is the supply chain function. As a newcomer to the Egyptian professional market, and with supply of such professionals fewer than demand, executive pay within this area is experiencing a rapid increase.
Other characteristics of the Egypt’s executive talent pool are:
- Younger age of executives - 30-40 years old instead of 40-50 the last decade;
- MBA degrees are becoming a standard, and a new trend is to have an MBA from outside Egypt, Ivy league or other top tier university;
- Professional certificates in the finance/investment banking sector are also becoming standard (CPA, CFA, CIA, etc.);
- Increased percent of women executives particularly in banking, IT and FMCG sectors;
- Increased level of benefits for executives (executives cars, health/medical coverage, low interest loans, etc.)
Executive Search Service
With the increasing demand for senior professionals and growing number of multinationals setting up their operations in Egypt, the competition for the top talents is intensifying. However, there are obvious gaps between what the local recruitment service providers are offering, and the level of professionalism that the large foreign, and increasingly local, entities require. They place significant emphasis on having a strong leadership team and therefore, they understand the importance of having a specialised human capital solutions provider in this competitive marketplace that is able to find and attract competent executives. Currently, there are very few Executive Search firms catering to their needs of confidentiality, sophistication and top candidate profiles.
Executive Search is a global industry with 50-year old history. According to the latest industry report by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) the revenue from senior executive hiring worldwide has increased by 32% in the third quarter of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. The number of new searches for the same period has grown by 18%.
Executive Search differs from recruitment in that it is a consulting service, which in essence represents an assessment of a current situation of the client, and offering an adequate recruitment solution. The market analysis, search and candidates’ assessment are only a part of this process.
The goal of an Executive Search consultant is to get to the core of the problem faced by the client organisation in order to be able to create correct and detailed candidate profile. Only then an effective search strategy can be formulated, and market research process begins.
Executive Search is a well defined and managed process, which means that initially defined candidate’s profile is fine-tuned during the course of the search assignment through ongoing communication with the client. Each search project is treated as a unique individual assignment as no business organisation and no candidate profile is the same. Therefore each Executive Search project lasts between 4 to 6 weeks depending on the complexity of the management role the client organisation is looking to fill.
A professional Executive Search provider also understands the sensitivity related to hiring a senior manager by a client, and the issues related to a career change for a senior-level candidate. They will therefore approach the search mandate responsibly and will ensure confidentiality for both sides, as well as thorough research of the market to identify the best leader to fill the role. Executive Search recruiters will also conduct reference checks, which are of paramount importance for highly visible senior positions, as the tainted reputation of a newly hired manager can have a negative impact on a company.
Once an executive is hired, the work of the executive recruiters is not finished. They maintain contact both with the client and the manager in order to ensure that the integration process goes smoothly, the new manager has a good fit with the client organisation, and in order to identify any issues at an early stage.
Last but not least, although Executive Search firms primarily act in the interest of the client organisations, professional Executive Search consultants also take time to build long-term relationship with the potential candidates and offer advice on career development, thus building a strong candidate network.
Pedersen & Partners is a leading international executive search firm. We operate 43 wholly owned offices in Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Our values Trust - Relationship - Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives.