Is there such a thing as an ideal client?

By Mark Senior – Henley Research International

Is there such a thing? To put this in context most of our clients are pretty good and some are excellent.  And we’re not about to start a beauty parade for fear of upsetting someone… Recent discussions here resulted in five key components which invariably characterise our very best clients:

1 A great briefing – not just a Job Description and a few pointers but a face-to-face or telephone conversation that truly brings the search and the role to life. Why is the role vacant? What is the culture like, what sort of people work there? What is the search territory – sector, geography, company size, ownership profile and so on? What are the candidate ‘need to haves’, ‘nice to haves’ and disqualifying characteristics?  A good briefing not only ensures there is a clear understanding of the job in hand, but can also be highly motivational in ensuring the researcher feels real ownership of the success of the search.
2 Realistic candidate expectation – it’s important that both the client and the researcher(s) buy in to the anticipated deliverables for a search. Every search is different and a combination of factors determine how many “great fit” candidates will result. For the most attractive roles (great company, great location, great prospects, package etc) we may be able quite efficiently to get up to say 20 great candidates.  For other roles that figure may be fewer than three. The key issue is that client and researcher(s) are aligned in their thinking, otherwise disappointment will result.
3 Sensible timelines – we’ll move as fast as we possibly can, but we need to agree sensible, achievable timelines. Whilst name identification can generally be done within a few days, it is the process of approaching candidates and having dialogue with them that invariably takes a little time. A client intent on unrealistically short deadlines will miss out on some of the most talented candidates.
4 Prompt, clear feedback – even with realistic timelines, time is almost always of the essence and therefore our best clients are those who constantly provide early, constructive feedback. This is most important when we submit candidates to them – it ensures we are on message (or perhaps need to adjust slightly) as we continue the search, but also (critically) means we can get quickly back to a candidate and let them know the next stage.
5 Outcome communication – and finally, a good client will always let us know the results of a search, whether the role was filled and whether we found the successful candidate.  After all the effort we put in, it makes such a difference to know the outcome.

ERA welcomes new committee members!

We welcome Liz Shay from the Miles Partnership and Carol O’Driscoll from Archer Search to the ERA Committee, together they bring a wealth of experience which will only enhance further our ongoing training and events for the benefit of our members.

Heather Travis – Armstrong Craven talks about “Singapore’s Growth Trajectory and Implications for Talent”

Singapore’s Growth Trajectory and Implications for Talent

By Heather Travis

The vibrancy of the talent space in Singapore, together with a safe and cosmopolitan environment, makes it an ideal location for companies looking to expand into Asia.

Singapore is an attractive option for those looking to gain international experience that will set them apart in their careers. In the 2014 Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings survey by Mercer, Singapore was ranked 25th, making it Asia’s top location in terms of quality of living. INSEAD, in partnership with Singapore’s Human Capital Leadership Institute places Singapore in second place behind Switzerland in its Global Talent Competitive Index which measures elements of human capital and its connection to competitiveness.

Source: INSEAD and HCI Singapore (2013)

National commitment to talent development

In 2010 the Human Capital Leadership Institute was established along with the Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Economic Development Board (in partnership with the Singapore Management University). The Institute offers best-in-class faculty staff, thought leadership, and the provision of insight on doing business in Asia.  Through its efforts, the institute aims to develop global leaders with a strong understanding of leading in Asia, as well as to build Asian leaders with the ability to lead on the global stage.

Few governments have made such an investment in talent development at a national level. Whilst Singapore has demonstrated its commitment to the development of corporate leaders, the pace of economic growth in recent years and demographics of the nation mean there continues to be a reliance on expatriates in the short to medium term.

The appeal for multinational companies

Companies such as BASF, UBS, Sony and Unilever have set up talent and leadership development centres in Singapore.  Unilever’s Four Acres Singapore is the organisation’s first corporate university outside London.  Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Paul Polman commented on its opening in June 2013:

“Singapore sits at the nexus of the developed and emerging world. It’s a leading hub for leadership and innovation, and a gateway to the rapidly growing Asian economies. When our future leaders come here, whichever part of the world they come from, we know they will gain exposure to new insights and perspectives.”

For organisations that are committed to developing a global mind-set in their future leaders, Singapore can be an ideal market in which to nurture them. Our research findings, particularly within the banking sector, show that the majority of individuals at leadership levels are non-Singaporeans with international work experience prior to taking their current posts. Although the local talent pool at an executive level is fairly shallow, there is a population of Singaporeans at a mid-management level that are being prepared to step up from ‘ready later’ candidates into ‘ready now’ talent that can step into more senior roles.

Singapore as the gateway to Asia

Singapore is known as the gentle gateway to Asia due to its culture, efficiency, weather, schooling and location, thus attracting talent to the country is less of a challenge than in some of its Asian counterparts.  Armstrong Craven’s talent reports have frequently noted that once expatriates have left Singapore they are often open to considering a move back.

Singapore certainly has the feeling of a market on a growth trajectory. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was interviewed on 14th January 2015. He said: “Singapore has come a long way in the last 50 years, but this milestone should be seen less as a final destination than a springboard to an even better future. The 50th year is a good time for us. It is like reaching the end of a fifty metre swim. I touch (the wall), I take a breath and I swim on.”

Heather Travis is Director, Asia Pacific at Armstrong Craven. She can be contacted at

About Armstrong Craven

Intelligent people improve performance by creating an intelligent business. At Armstrong Craven we use our people to provide a future business view. Business success isn’t about yesterday, it’s about what you do today to secure the people you’ll need tomorrow. So Armstrong Craven digs deeper, travels further, looks longer, thinks harder – about what people need.

We provide insight, search, pipelining and leadership risk intelligence services to business leaders all over the world. We help organisations to better understand the markets they operate within and the markets they hope to enter. And we provide the people they need to make it work. For more information visit