Eduardo Drummond is a Partner at Signium Brazil, responsible for Consumer & Retail. Eduardo has a solid experience in Executive Search for the past ten years. He has worked in top leadership positions in different business areas and sectors of th...
02 December 2021
Ireland is an important country in Signium’s global operations, predominantly in the life sciences, technology, aviation leasing, environmental and value-added food sectors. To get an insight and better understanding of the Irish business across a number of industries and specialisms, Eduardo Drummond, Managing Partner – Signium Brazil spoke with Martin McEvoy, Managing Partner – Signium Ireland.
Martin shares his views about the prospects for commercial recovery, Brexit, the most difficult moments of the pandemic and the main markets that move executives in the region.
How do you evaluate the executive search sector in your country right now? With the possibilities of economic recovery and the hope of a reduction in pandemic numbers.
Martin McEvoy: Ireland had a natural hiatus from March – September 2020 where the vast majority of hiring activity was paused while organizations were figuring out what the future might hold. However, with vaccination levels of ~80%+ the economy continues to be robust – particularly underpinned by Global investors in Ireland as a base for R&D, operations and manufacturing.
The IMF GDP growth forecast of 13% is viewed as a false measure as it includes contributions from the large corporate inward investors whose trading footprint is Global. A more realistic measure is what’s known as Modified Domestic Demand, which more accurately reflects the domestic economy, and this growth is forecast to be 5.25% in 2021 and 6.5% in 2022.
Despite Brexit, given the above, from a long-term perspective Ireland’s development outlook is positive; underpinned with a strong educational system – it has one of the highest percentages of 3rd level graduates in the world. In fact, 51% of adults in Ireland have completed higher education, which compares very favourably with just 13% back in 1990. This, allied to having the youngest population in the EU (33% under aged 25) provide additional structural strengths.
What were the main difficulties that Signium faced in your country at the most critical phase and how did you get through it?
Within the March-September period of last year the majority of client assignments were paused and new business intake was very poor. There were reasonable Irish Government wage subsidies and given that our firm’s overhead is heavily weighted on colleague’s salaries that effectively allowed us ‘ride the storm’.
Clients in the travel, aviation, tourism, leisure and day to day entertainment and hospitality sectors have been hugely impacted and there is still some uncertainty as Government restrictions have not yet been fully lifted.
Which sectors of the economy are most stimulated in your country today?
Growth is being experienced by the following:
Life Sciences (Pharma & Medical Devices). Ireland is 3rd largest exporter of pharmaceuticals globally with 9 of the top 10 World’s Pharma Companies having a presence and 50+ FDA Approved Pharma & Biopharma Plants.
Technology Development & Manufacture (including Data Centres / Cloud Based Solutions Providers). Reputed for being the heart of ICT in Europe, Ireland currently has a presence of the top 5 Global Software Companies, 9 of the top 10 US Technology Companies, the top 3 Global Enterprise Software Companies and 4 of the top 5 IT Services Companies.
Aviation Leasing – Ireland is the global centre for aviation finance and aircraft leasing; more than half of the world’s leased aircraft are now owned or managed in Ireland, 14 of the world’s top 15 aircraft lessors are based in Ireland with a 65% share of the global aircraft leasing market.
Other growth areas include environmentally focused utilities / Renewable Energy enterprises (2nd highest penetration of wind energy in the EU with 16% of energy being from renewable sources), Professional / Financial Services including Fintech along with Primary and Value-added Food manufacturing.
It is worth noting that as part of our approach to keeping up to date with diverse organizational leadership challenges, we also conduct interviews with successful business leaders in trending sectors – please see links to recent Signium Ireland Interviews with the Founder of Mainstream Renewable Power who have a strong global presence including Chile and the CEO of AerCap the largest Global Aircraft Leasing company. A library for all of these leadership interviews is also now available on podcast.
Were there any changes in public policies during the most critical phase of the pandemic? How are the wages & salaries now?
Restrictions of movement and socialising were very strong during the most critical phases mid-2020 and early 2021 – e.g. 2 km walking distances / 30% only essential retail / masked occupancy etc. As well as the obvious economic consequences, this had a huge impact on lifestyle, mental health and wellbeing.
Government wage subsidies are being phased out as most organizations (with the exceptions of tourism, leisure and day to day entertainment and hospitality sectors) are in a gentle growth curve or at least in a position to independently trade.
However, with the ongoing Global supply chain restrictions, increased costs of shipping / fossil fuel-based energy and the unique effect of Brexit on the Irish economy, I sense that no matter how good public policies are, the Irish and European Union Governments will struggle to control inflation.
With the acceleration process of digital transformation, what requirements became more relevant in the profiles of the new leaders?
Ability to lead in an ever-evolving hybrid/virtual world will obviously be critical.
At a more granular level, evidence of a proven track record of successfully leading teams to deliver digital based structures and processes in departments, divisions or enterprises. Typically, this will include internal and external communications and very often development and leadership of an ecommerce sales function for international and possibly omni-channel products/services.
Assuming that the digital transformation includes the commercial function; experience of creating broad routes to market via B2B and B2C (to include marketplaces such as Amazon) will be important. Leaders will probably also need to have proven technical and data analytics skills and at least an understanding of best-in-class process platforms for delivering superior customer experience and sales performance in a digital context.
How has Signium been operating in your country offering other services than executive search, such as leadership development, coaching and another assistance?
The majority of Signium Ireland’s focus is on delivery of high value added, best-in-class Executive Search services. We positively but deeply interrogate the client requirement in the context of overall organizational vision, strategy and possible transformational requirements. This is hugely underpinned by our ability to develop a deep understanding of the cultural dynamics in an organization and – if there is to be a cultural shift – clarity on the type of talent to deliver this.
Additional services in recent years have included providing a number of Private and Public Sector Non-Executive / Board evaluations and appointments, consulting on organizational structure & reward reviews along with a significant number of high-end career transformational services.
What are the Signium differentials in your country and how do you benefit from the company’s global presence?
Differentials include consistency of delivery (i.e. conversion rates of 90%+), our ability to develop a deep understanding of the cultural dynamics required for leadership and specialist talent to succeed in hiring client organisations; along with strong market credibility and longevity – Signium Ireland celebrated 25 years in 2020.
As part of the Signium Global Firm, we are privileged to have access to Global client relationships and leadership talent with and through our Partners.
Being part of a Global firm also provides additional comfort to prospective and existing clients of our ability to access and commit international talent in a very professional and credible way. This can enhance the perception of the client employer brand and further support Signium’s delivery of richer shortlists.
What are the main Signium offices and countries where you have been building alliances? What is the relationship with Brazil?
Over the years Signium Ireland’s Partner commercial relationships have been mainly European Union, US and UK centric. Specifically, we have had clients referred to/from Signium Partners in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, UK and the US as well as a couple of assignments previously referred to a Brazilian Partner.
Through a combination of direct support, strategic review committees, practice group and Global conference participation, we are well connected with our Brazilian Partners; and of course in ‘pre-lockdown times’ you hosted a fantastic 2018 Global Conference in Rio.