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A new era of executive recruitment is quickly unfolding in the Middle East, according to a panel of industry specialists who shared their insights at London Business School's Middle East Management Forum reported in AMEinfo.com.
According to the panellist, who included Dr Nairouz Bader, CEO of Vision Executive Search, Jonathan Holmes, Managing Director of Korn Ferry International, Mark Houghton, Managing Partner of Odgers Berndtson and Metin Mitchell, Managing Director of Metin Mitchell & Co. Peter Felix, President of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) the Middle East is still an attractive place for international talent, but there is growing competition from emerging markets, including China, India, Brazil, countries in eastern Europe and Latin America.
The Middle East's dependence on expertise from Western expatriates is no longer required, according to Metin Mitchell, who runs his own executive search and management advisory firm in the region. He also believes expatriates already in the region are too expensive and they are now in direct competition with talent from "distressed markets" such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland who will come and work for less.
The main markets for recruitment growth in the region are Saudi Arabia and Qatar (particularly in infrastructure for both countries), with Lebanon also providing a growing level of opportunity despite the spill over from the conflict in Syria.
Nationalisation is becoming more of a focus in the GCC countries, with a significant movement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeing nationals looking to negotiate 40-50% on their present packages.
In addition, companies are now looking for Arabic speakers first, as they provide much greater integration and a broader network, according to the panellists.
Multinational corporations are not recruiting at the levels they were before the global economic downturn. They have large entrenched workforces around the world where they move people from A to B.
Despite the considerable economic and political uncertainty in many parts of the world, the executive search industry has held up surprisingly well. At the end of this year, it is expected the industry will be at its third highest level ever for worldwide revenues, according to the panellists.
Jonathan Holmes, Managing Director of Korn Ferry International, also believes the Middle East continues to grow at levels far exceeding the vast majority of the world.
"This spawns tremendous opportunity for talent," said Mr. Holmes. "Regional conglomerates are focusing on recruiting and retaining high quality, world-class professionals from all over the globe, irrespective of ethnicity."
Dr. Nairouz Bader, CEO of Vision Executive Search added that in the Middle East, specifically the life science, oil and gas, the chemical and the retail sectors are growing significantly. "Functions such as market access, sales and marketing as well as very technical positions are being urgently requested. As other emerging markets have evolved, talent has become more scarce. The Middle East is in competition with talent with the rest of the world - it is not only competing with its own anymore, it is competing on a global level."