1st Executive Blog

12 Feb How an Agile Executive Search Strategy Plays Out

The Australian Financial Review on Feb 5 2020 carried a piece by Edmund Tadros in which the CEO of Rio Tinto, Jean Sebastien Jacques explains how he uses an internal management consulting team to do work previously done by external advisors. In responding to “The Australian Financial Review’s Annual Chanticleer CEO survey” Jacques admitted that Rio Tinto do use external consultants to provide specific niche expertise to support the Rio Tinto team but that he wants his core team to develop strategy and projects.

If large organisations are going to do this successfully, the vision needs to start with their Executive Search strategy. Essentially what this entails is the sourcing of senior executives to lead specific functions who have cross functional experience and capability. It may not be necessary for a C-Suite executive to be a real generalist but increasingly we are seeing examples such as Chief Marketing Officers who have been Sales Directors, Chief Operating Officers who have been Financial Controllers or Chief Information Officers who may have led a high-tech manufacturing operation.

The clear benefits that this executive search strategy produces are in the provision of at least a duality of skills to a specific role and also the potential to contribute effectively to an internal advisory team. Obviously, at this level, there is a reasonable assumption that the executive is operating at a high enough level to have his or her team operating independently and effectively. They must have the capacity as well as the capability to support broader strategic initiatives when working with with other executive colleagues as internal consultants.




This will often represent a significant change in behaviours and culture and the smart organisations are more likely to shy away from traditional advisory services in favour of executive learning that helps senior people and their direct reports create additional capacity, while developing broader capability via an internal problem-solving “language” of tools and processes that they are all familiar with.

Consequently, we start to see organisations who espouse the nurturing of their own teams, turning to the kind of leadership development support that is focused on transferring skills, enabling executives to be more effective in their roles and to make a broader contribution to their organisation.

In turn, this is more likely to produce organisations that are closely aligned behaviourally and through their business activities with the longer term mission, vision and values of the corporate entity.

#executive search #leadership development #advisory #riotinto #Jean-Sebastien Jacques