A profile that fits the culture

This is increasingly important: searches cannot be limited to the closed sphere of a specialty or department. The ability to adapt to a company’s culture carries as much weight as someone’s professional career and experience. There are many companies that appreciate this essential point and they are the same ones that hire executives most successfully.

Objective: find a legal department head and board secretary for a leading multinational in the energy sector.

Project: looking for a person who fits the culture of a markedly multinational company, with a very strong focus on teamwork, multiculturalism, and in a highly regulated sector.

Outcome: an atypical search is launched, with emphasis on analysing adaptation to the corporate culture as well as to the job. The position has been covered with a high degree of satisfaction for three years.

Executive recruiting is often accompanied by a mandate specifying the technical requirements of a job for which only a small group of professionals is eligible. Aside from preparation and experience, sectors tend to be endogamous and feed off their own talent, especially those that are regulated.

Up to this point, we are talking about a classic talent search. But there are companies that go farther and think beyond a professional’s theoretical knowledge, looking at much more demanding values: they need a person who fits their corporate culture well. This now becomes something more than a traditional search—it is a project that demands evaluation of the candidates’ capacity for cultural adaptation as one of the client’s core requirements.

An open search

In this case we present a complex, atypical search in the multinational sphere. Along with the candidate’s technical requirements, the company gave a lot of importance to attitude. The classical part of the requirements was limited to:

  • head of a legal department in a highly regulated sector that a priori included a command of legislation (which was not decisive in the end, as soft skills were given priority)
  • the position demanded a command of law, compliance and a very advanced knowledge of corporate policies

The company’s own structure added another element of complexity:

  • a lot of weight at headquarters, which meant that the Country Manager of Spain did not make the decision on the new hire—the choice would fall to the legal department and the corporate HR department
  • the processes are complex: the job required reporting to the head office and on-going work in Europe and the United States, as well as legal support for the business in Spain
  • the company had a high level of demand in reports

And, moreover, the organisation put forward several requirements that complicated the choice of profile further:

  • an international profile took priority over knowledge of the business
  • one of the essential requirements was that the person fit culturally in a multicultural, multi-country environment involving teamwork with the other European directors
  • within its gender quota policies, they were looking for a woman director to balance the structure of the executive team

The key to the search was extending it to include professionals from other sectors completely different from our client’s business, and giving absolute priority to candidates’ cultural adaptation as opposed to pure experience. The result is that the position was filled, with a high degree of satisfaction on both sides.

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