shailjaShailja Dutt, MD of Stellar Search, talks to Sangeeta Yadav about the rising demand for executive search consultants and how it has become $150-million industry in India

Executive search consultants have become a rising career option these days…

Globally it is considered a career choice at par with management consulting. It is also a financially rewarding career option. In India is a $150 million industry, at the top of the recruitment pyramid. Organisations today rely on a search consultant’s expertise in identifying and selecting high calibre talent to fuel their growth. Search consultants are respected for their industry knowledge and influencing skills.

What are the roles of executive search consultant?

Executive search consultants provide global exposure to industries and functions. Search consultants influence organisations and senior management at a strategic level.

What are the latest developments?

The industry is going through a phase of growth in India. Many new European and American companies are setting up their branch here. Also a large number of senior professionals are quitting large corporate roles and are setting up their own ventures. The industry is poised for a shakeout and consolidation in the next 18-24 months.

How can one make a successful career in this field?

Hard work, passion and tenacity are the essential ingredients. Executive search firms offer a lucrative and a challenging career. One can easily take up senior management roles on the corporate side, entrepreneurship, making a move to general management consulting are just some of the options. In terms of personal traits, excellent inter-personal skill, ability to build and nurture relationships with influencers and decision makers goes a long way in carving out a niche for yourself in the industry. Being true to the process and have a very strong customer orientation, analytical skills, EQ, networks and knowledge.

How difficult is it to get access to the top talent?

Access to talent is not a differentiator in the industry. Building, nurturing relationships with top talent and being seen as a knowledge expert who can advise them about their career in an objective manner is the differentiator segregating the wheat from the chaff in this industry.

What are the challenges in finding and recruiting the right executive for various organisations?

Today the greatest challenge is not to find top-notch talent, but convincing a senior management to take the final plunge and actually make the switch in their career. We are in a phase where demand for top management outstrips the supply putting us in a candidate driven market place rather than a client/mandate driven market place. It also becomes very difficult for professionals in executive management roles to dislodge their personal relationship with promoters/boards and change to another company.

What are the best ways to deal with the retention problems at the top-level?

Retention at the top is driven by personal connect, emotional connect, challenge within the role offered, the ability to build a strong legacy and equity or profit-sharing. Unlike popular belief, compensation is a hygiene factor at this level.

What key skills do companies expect for top executives?

They look for the ability to lead a very diverse workforce comprising, GenY, GenX and the Millenials. Have flexibility and openness to change, agility and understanding of technology and connectivity in the digital age.

How is the trend of womentrepreneurs and mompreneurs picking up?

The economy is opening up and the opportunity to work more creatively and the perceived benefit of being one’s own boss are some of the key reasons more women are entering into entrepreneurial roles. Society as a whole is now more open and receptive to the idea of female entrepreneurs. Moreover, with the Modi Government encouraging more and more start-ups, we are going to witness a further increase in the women opting this role.

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