How to find the right executive in times of uncertainty

Leadership StrategiesLeadershipExecutive Search
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十月 19, 2018
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Leadership StrategiesLeadershipExecutive Search
The Valor article, “How to find the right executive in times of uncertainty," interviewed Russell Reynolds Associates CEO Clarke Murphy on how crucial it is for executives to be agile and able to adapt to change in such a period of innovation and uncertainty. A translated excerpt of the article is below.


The industry’s transformation process towards automation has influenced the selection of executives worldwide. Even though the search is not for technologists, companies from virtually all sectors are looking for executives who are familiar with this new business environment and have the agility to respond to these changes rapidly. "The response time is shorter," says Clarke Murphy, six-year CEO of the global executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the leading firms for top-tier recruitment. 

During his visit to Sao Paulo, he told Valor that having agility today is about more than being flexible. "It's being agile within such flexibility." Murphy states that in the richest nations automation is happening much faster than imagined. "Since they have the scale to do that, change has been dramatic," he says. Knowing that people will be required to maximize such digital transformation, companies are aware that they will have to retrain professionals in different learning tracks. "Executives need to be alert because this means being competitive. Retraining is possible within a period of six to twelve months." 

Such agility in reviewing the way we operate and understanding that business cycles are different nowadays is what companies expect from executives. They also need to be good communicators. "In Brazil, in this political and financial crisis, you need to have strategic thinking, to operate with excellence and to know how to communicate with employees, shareholders, regulators and the board," he says. In the trade war between the US and China, for instance, Brazil can gain space in the Chinese market. It is this type of agility that companies require. 

Murphy says the focus on the operating model that is being challenged by the entry of disruptive companies in various sectors is testing the response capability of executives. He gives the example of the cosmetics industry. "Before there was a lead time to produce and plan the launching of a product before it reached store shelves; Now smaller companies pose celebrities wearing what's new on Instagram and immediately start to distribute it in online stores. With it, they decrease delivery time to consumers," he states. Large cosmetic chains are having to reinvent their business models because of this. "Procter & Gamble, for example, backed down and sold all its business in the beauty space," he says. 

To read the full article in its original Portuguese, click here.