Christine Hayward

By Christine Hayward
Executive Director
July 14, 2017

The Rise of New Industries

Over the years, many catch phrases have been used to encapsulate the current state of the executive search industry. Whether it is the “War for Talent”, “Trusted Advisor” or “Leadership Consulting Services,” the reality remains that our industry is undergoing a rapid transformation. History has demonstrated that evolution is not about the largest players surviving but a company’s ability to adapt in new environments.

One change in particular is the rise of new industries for executive search. There will be a strong demand for senior executive leaders in emerging sectors, and finding this talent will be challenging for several reasons:

  • It will be harder to identify candidates as they may have taken non-traditional career paths.
  • Relationships between search consultants and executives will be developed in new and distinctive ways. Consider the building of trust and knowledge sharing via digital media as opposed to the previous standard of meeting in-person to develop a relationship.
  • Negotiations around packages will involve more than the standard compensation and benefits. Individuals will seek more flexibility in working arrangements and desire more opportunities to benefit from the success of a company in the short-term.

Search firms must be prepared for these market changes and be ready to respond to these new industries. Innovative leaders will be critical to drive these newly emerging sectors into the next phases of development and expansion.

An example of an emerging industry for executive search is the E-Sports sector. E-Sports is a competitive tournament and spectator event where people watch professional gamers play video games. The number of viewers and fans worldwide is predicted to soon outnumber those of the NHL. “E-Athletes” are sponsored and treated like famous athletes in football, basketball and golf. In 2014, Amazon moved into this industry by acquiring Twitch, the first E-Sports global streaming channel, for nearly $1 billion.

Another example is the legal marijuana industry in the USA. It is a $7 billion industry and is predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2026. Retained executive search firms may want to consider entering this market or think about how they will respond to client requests for servicing this new sector. If a search firm enters this relatively new industry, one of the main challenges will be identifying candidates. Executive search firms will be critical in this capacity but will need to be creative in their approach to sourcing candidates, references and industry experts. Executives may need to be lured from traditional industries in order to fill this talent gap.

There are many ways to enter into these new industries, however an approach that worked for you previously may not help you gain traction today. You must be adaptable in your outreach, flexible in your offerings and willing to learn something new. These will be critical to expanding into these rising markets.

To create a network of qualified executives, search firms may need to hire a search professional to lead research and outreach in new markets to start developing a network. Get involved with industry associations and think tanks for these new industries to better understand them and identify what success looks like for leaders in these markets. Another strategy may be to offer your services to rising companies that are trying to understand compensation packages involving ownership, stock options and equity.

As the search industry landscape changes, the term “emerging industries” will continue to signify key markets where executive search services are not only desired, but required by organisations and clients that want to succeed. Search firms that diversify into these lines of business early on will be able to find new clients to serve, and will ensure their success in this industry.

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