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C-Suite Hiring Forecast: The Ability to Innovate Will Be Key in 2007

It’s no secret that 2006 was a tumultuous year for the C-suite. Accounting scandals related to back-dated stock options have instigated resignations across the board, leaving open positions to be filled in 2007. Combined with a steady economy and improved strength within the technology sector, the stage is set for an increase in executive hiring at all levels and within most industries, says global executive recruiting firm Battalia Winston International.

Whether dealing with the convergence of ever-changing technologies or melding and managing a multi-ethnic work force, savvy executives who can demonstrate the ability to innovate in the rapidly changing business environment will be in the greatest demand in 2007.

Battalia Winston International identifies the following as trends to look for in executive hiring in the coming year:

  • Silicon Valley on the Mend. Until recently the tech industry in Silicon Valley—burned by the dotcom carnage—had become more conservative in its hiring and had failed to invest in the leadership and organizational development executives who can maximize their human resource investments. However, a steady economy and an influx of venture capital has spurred a wave of searches for senior leadership development executives.

  • The New CIO. A growth surge among technology companies has created a need for better business management. Companies that formerly had very few employees but now have many, are seeking CIOs that have the business skills needed to manage teams and lead the company through further growth and development. In some case, companies are even searching to replace current CIOs that are “too technical.” This presents an interesting challenge for recruiters who note that only about 50% of CIO candidates have the newly required level of business savvy.

  • CFOs on the Move. There are an increasing number of chief financial officers looking to leave the public forum. Recruiters are seeing that now more than ever, CFOs are leaving public companies in favor of consulting positions and roles in start-up companies. Strict regulations and increased shareholder scrutiny are aiding  CFOs' desire to jump to privately held companies. Since the implementation of Sarbanes Oxley, the augmented regulations, increased shareholder scrutiny and amplified accountability, coupled with the possibility of personal legal action against him or her, has made being a CFO a somewhat thankless job. CFOs are instead moving toward consulting positions, allowing them to make more money and decrease responsibility and accountability. As a result, salaries have increased for CFOs of publicly held companies to entice them into returning in-house or not to leave in the first place.

  • Blurry Boundaries. We live, work, and play in a digital era where technology has facilitated a blurring of boundaries among traditional media and entertainment channels. Convergence continues to present a challenge to media companies striving to keep pace with technologies that once had distinct functions that are now overlapping with others. Media businesses are aggressively competing for executives that are "plugged in" and can understand the intricacies of how a song recorded for radio can be re-purposed for mp3 players, cell phones, satellite and, of course, the Internet.

  • Gray is Still Good. With increased life expectancies and the aging of the baby boom generation, businesses are increasingly willing to entertain hiring older executives. Once viewed as unmarketable due to mandatory retirement ages, today executives in their late fifties may work another 10 to 12 years. In a survey conducted by MetLife, 6 out of 10 adults between the ages of 60 to 65 were working or actively looking for a job. “Gray Hairs” can use their age to their advantage by combining their experience with creative outlets such as teaching, networking through professional Websites, or blogging.

  • Learning to Lead Global Operations. Now that manufacturing has flourished in emerging markets and operations are there to stay, efforts are being made to ensure that plants worldwide are collected together and follow corporate strategies that reflect the core busines goals, objectives, and principles of the company. This is being conducted in a two-part process: first, by finding the best local plant managers to run operations on the ground, and, second, by developing leaders in the U.S. that can ensure these managers work as a cohesive unit, regardless of country locale, while encouraging autonomy and cultural consistency.

  • Psychometric Testing. More than one- third of employers now give job candidates personality assessments, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. In fact, from the variety of tests offered by assessment firms, it is evident that the market for psychometrics is not only growing but diversifying into every industry and job level. Candidates at any level should be aware of psychometrics testing, knowing what to expect, why they are used, and their privacy rights.

  • Recruitment McCarthyism. There has been much debate of the appropriateness of Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulatory initiatives to improve corporate governance in the wake of major business scandals. However, in the area of senior executive recruitment it would seem that corporate America has been more than adequate in policing itself, as executives with even remote ties to scandal-ridden businesses have become persona non grata. But, in many cases the marketplace is overreacting as individuals that had nothing to do with well-publicized scandals are being penalized.

    For more information, visit www.battaliawinston.com