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Executive search update 2020


The move to online shopping has been significant, its driven upgrading of skills and the focus on channels and media focus away from main revenue channels. Product mix has changed and that has caused considerable impact on supply chain and manufacturing. Critical impact has been on logistics and warehousing to manage greater direct to consumer sales mix. All this is reflected in the need for Board skills mix to include technology and digital, and leadership teams have made significant efforts on efficiencies and technology support for functional leaders. Next stage of this is greater focus on data as part of culture and decision making.

Professional Services

Source Global has forecast for the year as a whole; they expect the global professional services / consulting market to contract by 13% this calendar year, compared to the last. Asia Pacific remains the least impacted region, although within Asia, as in other regions, there are significant variances between individual countries and firms. In Australia we are seeing the Big Four Accounting firms have stable revenue, whilst the Mid Tier and Corporate Law firms are seeing increased revenue in some of their divisions.

Transactions are happening, albeit at a more subdued level and this isn’t expected to pick up until we have freedom of movement nationally and globally.    

Aside from Victoria, firms have bounced back reasonably well from April on the revenue side, with Mining, FS, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Renewables positively benefiting. Unsurprisingly Cost Out, Technology Transformation, Cyber Security & the 3Rs: Regulatory reform, Remediation and Risk continue to be in high demand.

Financial Services

Outside of the big four banks who have taken a view to support those who have come across difficulties as a result of this, broadly the sector is stable and looking to position themselves for the new world. In some cases, they have seen increases in asset flows and decreases in costs (more people using digital platforms and paying through channels that benefit the bank than ever before).


As NSW and the Commonwealth came through the initial lockdown, we have seen a number of roles being brought to market simultaneously, as they returned to 'normal operations'. We have seen a consistent demand for executive search from the public sector since then with a particular focus on areas that have touchpoints in the health, human services and infrastructure areas.  We expect government stimulus to continue to drive buoyancy in the infrastructure sector as new and existing projects are fast-tracked. Areas such as digital and telehealth, data and analytics systems to support public health and epidemiology, will also see growth.

Underpinning all of this, we continue to see Government driving transformation and consolidation within departments, with most jurisdictions coming off recent machinery of government changes within the last year. Commonwealth looking to now think and plan about longer term strategies and how the right knowledge, skills and capabilities of their people will set them up for that. We are seeing the continuation of the trend of the Commonwealth seeking skills from the private sector.

With the extended lockdowns in Victoria, particularly in Melbourne, there is plenty of anecdotal commentary that VPS executives have been stretched, at times beyond capacity. Many executives have been deployed into a range of secondment roles to provide extra resourcing and cover as departments and agencies managed their way through the crises.

Private Equity

Typically are able manage short term shocks as their commitments are over a multi-year strategy rather than a six monthly or yearly reporting cycle. Many firms still experience increase in capital and looking for investable assets. Leadership has certainly been highlighted during these times to see how firms, teams and individuals navigate this climate.


Well positioned for any short term changes as a result of the pandemic with the longer term macro themes of an ageing population still driving investment and leadership decisions.

Not For Profit

Significant growth. Earlier in the year we shared how Watermark had contributed in connecting high calibre talent to charities in need, for no charge. You can read more on one example of this here.

Click here to see the insights of our recent Interim Management Team's polling series