Market Update Q2 2020 - Executive Search

Tribe's Head of Accounting, Brad Gatehouse, Head of Sales & Marketing, Cameron King, and Head of Knowledge, Chelsi Clifton, share their insight on executive search for Q2 of 2020. 

As we transitioned down to Level 1 over the past three months (Q2), Tribe’s executive search division has been one of our busiest teams.

Yes, the world is currently working its way through a significant health and economic crisis, but businesses currently need exceptional leaders more than ever! These are business-critical roles providing strategic, financial, commercial and leadership capability to organisations during some of their most challenging times. It is why at Tribe we continued to recruit six executive search roles throughout lockdown, when 80 percent of our roles across our eight other disciplines were put on hold. There were a couple of exceptions - some were newly created positions where significant responsibilities had been split off from a larger executive role and the decision was made to revert to status quo until more certainty returns to the economy. 

However, there is a downside. The pool of potential executive talent has shrunk dramatically due to the New Zealand border closure preventing non-NZ citizens or permanent residents from being eligible. For the time being, we can’t truly search the global market, which is an interesting new dynamic we need to get our heads around. Luckily, NZ is packed with great talent and we are seeing an increase in offshore Kiwi execs returning or at least indicating they are keen to return.

The other big factor influencing executive search post-lockdown is the decreased appetite when we ‘shoulder tap’ executives about a potential new role. Pre-COVID-19, the percentage of employed executives that expressed an interest in discussing a new role was high, at around 60 – 70 percent. Post-lockdown, that has dropped to between 30 – 40 percent, with executives unwilling to risk their current roles due to the uncertain economic climate.

It’s hard to predict what the rest of 2020 holds. Unemployment has actually decreased from 4.2 percent in Q1 to four percent in Q2, much lower than economists had predicted. We are hopeful the impact of COVID-19 won't be as significant as initially thought. Private Equity investment remains strong and they are preparing for growth, which is very positive and something to keep an eye on.