New Global Association to improve the future of the Executive Search Industry

Crystal Ball

In light of the virus, we are accelerating our plans to launch the Not For Profit association for the executive search industry announced earlier this year. Our hope is to support, protect and propel the search industry towards emulating some of the smarter industries it serves.

What exists at the moment? The AESC, caters for an estimated 0.005% of the executive search and leadership firms in the world.

Whilst the AESC has been heavily criticised over the years by non-members and members alike, the same is true of most organisations in the executive search industry: we all have famously strong opinions and it’s easy to see their faults rather than their value.

To be fair, nobody is holding them accountable so it’s hard to be the best in class and keep up your own standards of work when you’re sitting at a rotting desk and you’re the only one in the classroom.

The argument that ‘faith’ is shown to them by membership renewals is of course flawed since many current members admit to wearing the membership as a shiny badge rather than because there is any true value. In some cases they don’t even know what the AESC really does. They are not alone.

The premise of upholding standards and ethics in the executive search industry is admirable of course, it’s just a real pity that their lack of innovation and agility is symptomatic of the worst aspects of this industry that we love: if the beacon of light is itself flickering and dying then what hope is there for those that are following it?

Admittedly, whilst the AESC caters to such a minuscule proportion of the executive search and leadership firms in the world, their relatively few members include many of the larger firms which traditionally led the way in terms of innovation and influence.

The keyword here is ‘traditionally’. Korn Ferry now clearly distinguishes itself from the remaining SHRE, almost magically proving to be innovative and future-proof despite its astonishing growth.

The remaining four firms, however, are to some extent left groping around in the dark for now, looking for that chink of light. Maybe they’re looking for the initial of another search firm to join their ranks and make up another neat acronym? SHREW? SHORE? I don’t think so.

It’s been a really exciting time for the industry over the last 18 months, with more monumental changes than ever before. Whilst we are not under-estimating the challenging impact the virus has had on the industry, this rude awakening will inevitably have many positive impacts for those embracing the need to finally future-proof themselves once and for all.

This industry is full of really fantastic and super smart people, who are not doing as well as they deserve to be. They are ‘Thought Leaders’ for the industries they serve and now they need to think about becoming true leaders of their own businesses.

Let’s start planning for the future, for 2029 and not just 2021: hopefully the new Not for Profit for the industry can help get us there.

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