The following is an excerpt from Ahead of the Curve: Persistent Low-Yield Environment Drives Changes for Insurance Asset Management Teams by Keith Macomber, Partner with CTPartners. Read the full report here.

The five years since the onset of the global financial crisis have offered witness to major changes across all financial markets and business sectors. So it is no surprise that the insurance industry also finds itself grappling with significant new developments and challenges related to the management of general account assets. Increased scrutiny around risk, federal and state regulatory changes and uncertainty, and the persistent low-yield environment have combined for insurers to drive the need for higher-yielding assets, more diversified portfolios, and increased investment in risk management. Together, these factors are spurring hiring by insurance companies across business segments for top-grade investment and risk professionals.

Recently CTPartners released the latest report in the Firm’s Trend Talk series: Digital Expertise in the Boardroom. Following is an excerpt.

One of the most sought after credentials for corporate board members today is digital expertise, and there should be no mystery as to why that is the case. Only a few years ago, companies would have considered just a narrow range in which they might deploy digital technology to build their businesses or solve business problems. Yet today, digital technology is being utilized across a much larger swath of business areas and initiatives, with objectives that include customer engagement, cost reduction, product development, and increased productivity, to name a few.

And while many companies have been beefing up their management teams with digital experts for a number of years, many still lack digital orientation and know-how on their boards of directors. This makes it difficult for a board to fully participate in strategic discussions regarding the opportunities presented by digital technology and digital-based services, or even ask senior management the right questions.

Given the broad business impact of digital technology today, it seems clear that demand for directors with such knowledge will only increase in the future. Identifying leaders with digital expertise for board roles is not as simple, however, as tapping a programming whiz to run software management or product. Board roles demand accomplished leaders who have the depth of experience, operational understanding, strategic business insights, and gravitas to provide strong leadership and influence on digital matters addressed by the board.

Marc Gasperino, Managing Partner and Global Head of CTPartners’ Digital Practice, notes that businesses of all sizes are trying to gain an edge by improving their digital footprints. “Whether it’s through the improvement of online channels and mobile platforms, the expansion of brand presence and awareness through social media platforms, or an overall emphasis on customer experience and satisfaction, digital executives who understand how to swiftly implement and execute such strategies are in high demand and there is a low supply. Getting the right one to join your board isn’t easy.”

A seasoned board search partner with an extensive global network and deep knowledge of the digital leadership talent pool can be an invaluable ally in identifying the right kind of potential board leaders with depth in digital, as well as an ability to serve effectively as a director.

To read the full CTPartners report, visit: http://www.ctnet.com/TheFirm/TrendTalks/

Recently CTPartners released the latest report in the Firm’s Trend Talk series: Higher Growth Emerging Markets. Following is an excerpt.

Within any emerging market, the stakes are high and the calculus involving these three factors is a complex one, sometimes rapidly shifting. In the current macro environment, global financial markets show signs of increasing volatility while many developed economies face continuing challenges. This has complicated matters further for even the most promising emerging markets around the world.

In a mid-2013 assessment of the “growing pains” affecting the world economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund scaled back various growth projections, warning that “emerging market economies have generally been hit hardest, as recent increases in advanced economy interest rates and asset price volatility, combined with weaker domestic activity, have led to some capital outflows, equity price declines, rising local yields, and currency depreciation.”

The unpredictability of economic conditions across the globe—perhaps best epitomized by recent “misreadings” of the extent of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s commitment to economic stimulus—only serves to make matters that much more confusing, and potentially problematic, in the short run.

Despite the challenges, however, higher-growth emerging markets throughout the world—in Latin America, EMEA, and North Africa—continue to offer both compelling business prospects and the long-term potential for investment returns that will be robust, sustainable, and likely to outperform the possibilities offered by advanced economies.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that multinational, regional, and domestic organizations alike continue to recruit talent aggressively in higher-growth emerging markets. Significantly, their focus tends to be on building the leadership and expert teams necessary to identify and capture longer-term business development opportunities that will be both profitable and sustainable.

To read the full CTPartners report, visit: http://www.ctnet.com/TheFirm/TrendTalks/

The following is an excerpt from a CTPartners Perspective by Peter T. Metzger, Vice Chairman, CTPartners and Paul Groce, Global Head of the CTPartners CIO Practice.  Read the full report here.

It is sometimes startling to remember that only a decade ago, cybersecurity was almost an afterthought for corporate leaders around the globe. Today, few topics are more present and pressing in C-Suites and boardrooms than that of cybersecurity. The escalating risk of theft, disruption, or destruction from cyberattack for companies, consumers, and government bodies alike is documented daily in news reports of cybersecurity breaches and corporate espionage, as well as the increasingly regular experiences of consumers who have been “hacked.”

While the specific nature of the threat might vary by industry, companies in all business sectors and all global regions must confront this rapidly expanding and business-critical management challenge.

In response, cybersecurity matters have skyrocketed to the top of priorities lists of CIOs across all industries. Companies increasingly are building out or upgrading their information security teams, often adding a Chief Information Security Officer—for the first time—to partner with the CIO.

Among the greatest challenges as companies grapple with information security is identifying and retaining the expert leaders who possess an information security skill set that is as sophisticated as the cyberthreat itself—and capable of evolving just as quickly. Frequently, such talent comes from the federal intelligence or defense establishment. Needless to say, such talent is scarce, the competition for this talent is nothing less than fierce, and that competition seems bound only to grow in the future as companies fully recognize the essential nature of information security roles.

In this kind of environment, companies must be able to turn to an executive search partner with the marketplace knowledge and resources to access the very best candidates. CTPartners’ unparalleled knowledge of the top information security leaders, including the federal intelligence and defense community of leaders, provides clients with unique access to the experienced professionals who possess the technical and strategic expertise for critical information security roles.

The following is an excerpt from Ahead of the Curve: Latin America’s Growth Prospects and Talent Challenges Reward Fine-Tuned Board Strategies by Eduardo Antunovic, a Partner with CTPartners. Read the full report here.

Latin America’s role as a global economic powerhouse has been evident for some time. As home to some of the world’s fastest-growing and most promising economies, the region offers profitable and unparalleled opportunities to local, regional, and global corporations alike.

Yet for corporations that pursue the region’s opportunities, there are formidable challenges to be confronted. First and foremost is a relative lack of talent, which is evident across all growth sectors in terms of skilled, managerial, and executive professionals.

Latin America’s talent shortfall originates from a number of factors. But in simplest terms, the speed with which individual countries—and the region as a whole—are growing has far outpaced the speed at which the region is producing the educated and experienced talent that business growth depends upon. The problem is pronounced
throughout the region and especially confronts growthoriented corporations in Chile, Peru, and Brazil.

The following is an excerpt from Ahead of the Curve: Analyze This: Venture Capital Analytics Track Deals and Talent by Dayton Ogden, Managing Partner with CTGrowth Partners.  Read the full report here.

Venture capital analytics are getting plenty of attention in Silicon Valley these days. Many venture firms are designing proprietary software systems that will allow them to more competitively identify appealing investment opportunities and business trends, help their portfolio companies to share resources and data, and also keep track of talent that is currently—or may someday become—of interest. And those venture firms not interested in designing their own systems often are turning to the growing number of startups that will build such systems for VC firms.

Venture capital industry leaders such as Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, DFJ, and others all are utilizing internal analytic engines.

The obvious goal of these systems is to build a competitive advantage. These analytic engines collect data from a wide variety of sources, including editorial content, blogs, social platforms (i.e. LinkedIn), business and industry websites, SEC filings, and more. Then, the modeling and predictive characteristics built into these platforms can help the venture capitalists get out in front of deal flow, anticipate talent movements, understand sector growth trends, and respond in real time to identified opportunities. If the early bird catches the worm, these analytics are designed to give VC firms a leg up on trends, companies, and talent.

Recently, CTPartners organized a seminar led by Dona Roche-Tarry, Managing Partner, Board Services on the topic “Transitioning to a Plural Career”.

Drawing from her experience as Managing Partner of Board Services and from the interviews of professionals in her book: “What’s Next? How Professionals are Refusing Retirement” Dona has observed an increase in the number of senior executives who are seeking coaching and advice on getting their first non-executive directorship, and more important on how to transition into this type of activity. She has discovered that this is a global phenomenon and has observed several themes worth noting:

  • Most executives begin thinking about this transition in their mid-fifties to late sixties, and many even earlier.
  • All of these executives are at the top of the ladder, and feel that they have done all they can in their current area of expertise.
  • These professionals are looking for a change – not a next job, but a new working model to restructure their activities differently.
  • Although the final outcome may be similar when constructing a plural career, the journey and the final mix of activities is unique for each individual.

To read more about this seminar, visit CTPartners Insight page to read the full report.

Recently CTPartners released the latest report in the Firm’s Trend Talk series: Private Equity CFO.  Following is an excerpt.

With the recessionary lull now clearly in the rearview mirror, a resurgence of private equity activity is again evident across industry sectors, and most notably in the U.S. marketplace. Hand-in-hand with that increasing business activity is an escalating demand for the sophisticated senior executives capable of leading these rapidly transforming PE portfolio companies.

Among the roles most in demand is that of the portfolio company CFO. Perhaps no other portfolio company role has a more highly defined and non-negotiable skills profile than that of the impactful PE portfolio company CFO. Similarly, perhaps in no other industry does the strategic business model rest more heavily upon procuring fast-moving and uniquely qualified top talent—and doing so with all due speed. Indeed, in the world of private equity, there is no such strategy as accepting the status quo.

These factors combine to make the CFO selection one of the most critical hires for PE firms. And given the unique characteristics of the PE talent population and business marketplace, it is also a hire that simply demands expert guidance from a knowledgeable and entirely plugged-in executive search partner (see sidebar, “A Unique Landscape”). The stakes are just that high.

To read the full CTPartners report, visit: http://www.ctnet.com/TheFirm/TrendTalks/

This article by Kathryn Yap, Managing Partner, Singapore at  CTPartners first appeared in The Business Times of Singapore on April 6th, 2013.

Recent research by Insead shows that the top 100 CEOs from around the world delivered, on average, and impressive total shareholder return of 1,385 per cent during their tenures and increased their firms’ market value by $40.2 billion.

Indeed, many of those who we see appointed into CEO roles hope to make such a significant impact on their organisations and find that the first 100 days are often a rite of passage towards success or the start of a bumpy road.

CEOs are ultimately measured by their ability to resolve issues, set strategy, grow the business and achieve objectives. The first 100 days are a time for making careful assessments about the task ahead, and winning the trust and confidence of key stakeholders before implementing changes.

First 100 days
Wider stakeholders and investors, and even the chairman, may use this early period to determine whether their new CEO is off to a good start, and how he or she is faring as a leader. We have seen how such evaluations can impact a company’s stock price, positively as well as negatively. Therefore, it is important to formulate a communications strategy and timetable quickly. In the very early stages, it is crucial for CEOs to size up the organisation and its people. Failing to understand the business and failing to develop the right relationships can undermine the position of any new executive, and ultimately, the company’s performance.

At CTPartners, we find that the typical concerns of those who take on the CEO title, whether for the first, second or third time, will surround how they can transition into their new roles smoothly. Whether it is an internal promotion or an external appointment, moving into a CEO role is certainly not the same as moving into an extension of a previous job.

Build mutual understanding
Good communication is vital. Every conversation will be of value in providing insight into the company and its culture. It is important to define the prevalent management style, identify the individuals with whom the CEO will need to build relationships with, and ascertain what the organisation expects of them.

New leaders will benefit from proactive support in deciding how they form effective relationships at this level and what behavioural changes they may need to make to ensure that they are effective in their new role.

New CEOs can also make an effort to make their presence felt in subtle ways, by engaging with the organisation, being visible, and communicating and enquiring among those identified as key stakeholders.

Allow time for reflection
Often, the expectations of a new CEO are that he or she will make an early announcement of a change of strategy, but a new leader should resist the urge to act immediately, and instead spend time listening to colleagues and customers to gain insights about the business.

Unless there are urgent issues to deal with, it helps to take some time to acquire the information needed, to gain a real sense of the organisations culture, identify what is important and to differentiate between the signals and the noise.

Also, CEOs need to take time out to reflect on any unexpected issues that have arisen, so that this learning can be incorporated into their personal success plan for the role.

Fortify core teams
It’s important to develop strong relationships quickly with the key people in a CEO’s executive team – usually it’s the financial director, the chief human resources director and the key business leaders first. In general, CEOs are very reliant on these leaders, as they have been working for their companies for a while.

During the first 100 days, it is important to meet regularly with those people who report directly to the CEO. This will help a new CEO understand what each person does, what their skills are, and where they are coming from in general. The meeting groups are best kept small in order to build rapport and trust.

Reaching out to the wider organisation
In days 60 to 90, CEOs should be ready to reach out to the wider organisation. When it comes to communicating with employees and divisional teams, most senior executives now understand that an all-staff email won’t do. The best will offer employees a range of options, from town hall meetings to a webcast or video conferencing and small group Q&A sessions.

CEOs must also be clear about their personal values and ensure that these are in line with the values of the business. They need to be sensitive to the organisational culture, as seemingly minor missteps can send the wrong message. There will always be specific challenges and pressures that apply to senior management or board level roles, and CEOs will be expected to get it all right; the systems, the business strategy, the team building, and the people development.

CEOs cannot hope to successfully meet these new challenges without first understanding their own strengths and weaknesses. Some may find executive or leadership coaching or mentoring useful in ensuring that they pass their first 100 days with flying colours.

The following is an excerpt from Ahead of the Curve: HR takes its (rightful) seat on the board by Daniel Kaplan, Managing Partner with CTPartners Human Resources Practice.  Read the full report here.

It’s been a long time coming. But as corporate boards adjust to a complex and challenging combination of transformative business trends, tough new regulations, lagging economic conditions, and troubled political environments around the world, a promising development seems likely to gain momentum, with more and more seasoned HR executives taking their place on the board.

There’s a profound logic that supports this important development. After all, whether corporations are designing and implementing new initiatives, expanding into new markets, responding to competitive threats, or restructuring to address thorny problems, success depends upon getting the “people” part of the equation just right.

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The premise of this blog is to share lessons that come directly from business leaders around the world with you. Our partners worldwide will post articles based on actual conversations with executives that are willing to share lessons with all of you. These are true leaders – ones that have made it to the top and are now willing to give back to the global corporate community; to help build the next generation of leaders.

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