1st Executive Blog

16 Sep Is Executive Search Really International?

There is no doubt that Executive Search is, and arguably always has been, international! One of the trends that we are seeing in Australia will, in our opinion, provide Australian businesses with a competitive advantage. This trend is that as Generation X moves into the ultimate leadership positions in many companies, Australian CEOs are far more international than their US counterparts and are more likely to have been internally promoted.

This is just one of many findings in Apollo Communications Australian Top 50 CEO Report. Just looking at this small cohort, Apollo Communications revealed that almost half of Australian CEOs were born overseas. If you combine this fact with the finding that many are promoted from within, Australia’s most successful companies are seeking their global talent at an earlier career stage to give them time to assimilate into Australian business conditions and traditions before taking the top job.

The report states that of 24 foreign born CEOs from the top 50, nine were from the UK, four from the United States of America, three from South Africa and two from New Zealand with Ireland, France, India, Colombia and Vietnam all having one each.

In addition to half of CEOs being born overseas, more than 80% had worked overseas. While, in its interpretation of the report, the Australian Financial Review suggested that international experience was valued more by boards them by customers, we believe that to be a secondary issue.

As Australia sees its economy continue to move away from manufacturing to services, finance, engineering and science its major companies play in an increasingly global marketplace. Of course, Australia has the imperative to expand its activities overseas because of its population size. It currently ranks as the 14th largest economy in the world based on GDP, and GDP per capita with a population of just over 25 million – 55th in world rankings.


It therefore makes sense that as these businesses use Executive Search specialists that they bring senior executives into Australia from overseas to join the C suite and just below. They should also proactively source Australians working overseas and benefit from their international experience, often gained in much larger organisations.

With America increasingly looking inwards and the British looking beyond Europe into a post Brexit future, Australia’s Executive Search professionals can help shape the future of Australia’s business reach into Asia and the post Brexit desire of the USA and UK to do business with us. Businesses may find too, that they need to look at Executive Search providers with large boutique connections outside of the main global cities.