It has been fascinating to note the impact that the Covid-19 response has had on our search assignment portfolio. Any number of clients have ‘paused’ on hires until some version of normality resumes, but just as many (on my desk, at least) are forging ahead with hires that are either new in response to the crisis or simply more critical to the survival of the business than ever before. These include roles in the space of IT Infrastructure, Security and Transformation.
Preparing for a remote workforce has accelerated many businesses’ change imperative, and ‘work-from-home’ requires robust information security and infrastructure availability – not just a challenge for the ‘tech’ but also with demands on workplace behaviour. And workplace change is not just about enforcing old-school compliance and governance – it’s as often about helping leaders to manage differently. Or finding leaders who do. So we’ve actually seen newly-created roles which respond directly to the crisis – ‘Workplace Change’ roles which offer support from induction through to senior leadership development, challenging traditional mindsets and ways of working.
Perhaps more exciting in terms of leadership talent demand is the surge we see in the need for Leaders within “Social Impact” initiatives. Food security, public health, water and power, education, and financial inclusion have all seen a tightened focus and reconfirmed priorities. In all of these areas, there is a strong role for technology to play – and no greater opportunities or risks than within emerging markets. The lack of legacy makes for swifter adoption of new technologies than in developed countries, and the younger populations represent the next great consumer markets. The underlying drivers for growth remain as implacable and powerful as ever and businesses are wise to protect their presence and leadership talent pool within these markets.
In the midst of crisis there is always opportunity, and always organisations and individuals who rise to a challenge. The silver lining is that we may be laying the foundation for an environmentally sustainable, pro-poor, resilient and inclusive future.