Business / Economy

Multinational and domestic firms vie for senior talents

By Hu Haiyan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-24 10:55

China's executive talent market is facing a changing environment and the competition between multinationals and Chinese firms is becoming more fierce, say executives from Russell Reynolds Associates, a leading global executive search and assessment firm.

"Since our company came to China in 1997, we have noticed an evolution of the executive talent market," said Grace Cheng, the Russell Reynolds Associates' country manager for Greater China. "Now companies need new skills and competencies in senior talent to manage and grow business with increasing levels of ambiguity and complexity.

"Our own experience tells us that today's organizations require senior talent to go way beyond their typical functional responsibilities-such as demonstrating strong management, leadership and communication skills-and serve as strategic partners to other senior leaders.

"For example, over 90 percent of our successful candidates from our CFO searches in the region have had leadership experience outside the finance function. They stood out due to their commercial acumen, communication capabilities, relationship-building skills, and strategic mindsets. Moreover, multi-sector experience and an appetite for innovation and digital knowledge have become significantly more desirable compared to five years ago," said Cheng, who has 18 years executive search and assessment experience.

She said senior executives in the market are more sophisticated in seeking career opportunities and are selective and demanding when making career changes.

"Our research shows that executive talent in China wants significantly more to switch jobs-the 'switching premium' averages around 25 percent and that percentage is almost three times as much as that of leaders from outside of China, and the second-highest in Asia, just slightly trailing that in India," Cheng said.

She said her company also analyzed drivers of attraction for executives in China.

"We found that compensation, respect shown by the organization and future career opportunities are the most important factors influencing leaders in China's selection of potential employers. They also appear to value manager quality and leadership reputation more than their peers outside of China."

She said that during the past three decades of rapid economic growth, China's market drivers and environment have gone through drastic and fundamental changes, as has the competitive landscape for MNCs and Chinese enterprises.

"It is not an understatement to say that MNCs and Chinese firms are on the verge of a full-scale 'war' for executive talent," she said.

She said that while MNCs still remain a strong brand for employment, they are losing appeal for some top professionals who are increasingly concerned about intense competition and uncertain strategic directions MNCs face, as well as a glass ceiling for their career development.

"Before our clients were all from the MNCs, mostly the Fortune 500. Yet now the revenue from Chinese domestic companies already contributes 50 percent or more in some sectors of our business.

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