[Interview] Sarah Fitzgerald, Managing Director, Executives in Africa, UK
Sarah Fitzgerald is Managing Director at Executives in Africa, a company engaged in executive and upper management placements in sub Saharan Africa, identifying local African talent, Africans in Diaspora and expatriate managers.
Would you please introduce your company?
Executives in Africa is an Executive Search firm, based out of the UK, focused purely on delivering executive and senior management level hires for roles in Africa.
Our extensive international network, combined with the understanding of recruiting into local markets in Africa, gives Executives in Africa an unrivalled ability to identify the best business leaders for our Clients today who are committed to developing the leaders of tomorrow.
Our Search Process is thorough, efficient and tailored to the specific needs of each Client. We expect and offer honesty and integrity when working in partnership with our Clients, valuing long term relationships above short term gain.
When and why was Executives in Africa set up?
Executives in Africa was founded in March 2010 by myself and Richard Putley and combining over 40 years of recruitment expertise with our established international and Africa networks.
At the time, there were very few search firms focusing on Africa, and those who were trying to work on the continent were not effectively accessing local talent. At Africa Conferences, there was a consistent message that there was ‘not enough quality talent in Africa’. The talent was actually there, but no-one knew how to access it. The demand was there for a company which understood the continent and how to access the best talent through effective, yet traditional, search techniques.
As our reputation grew, Executives in Africa changed the way many companies thought about their talent strategies by giving them access to high calibre African talent in key leadership roles.
What are the USPs of your business?
We have developed a defined search methodology, the EiA Search Process, which is formally project-managed and has been proven to deliver results, even having succeeded where other firms have not. Our shortlisted Candidates all undergo our rigorous proprietary SuitAbility Assessments against agreed Critical Requirements. We believe these SuitAbility Assessments differentiate us from the competition and are one of the reasons behind our impressive success rates.
The SuitAbility Assessments involve first a forensic style CV-based Evidential Interview to ensure each possesses the technical skills, qualifications and overall experience required for the position. A second intensive SuitAbility Interview, undertaken by a different member of the Consulting Team, is designed to assess specific soft skills & competencies which will ensure success in this specific role and alignment with the long-term strategy for the organisation.
Being experts in interviewing, the SuitAbility Assessments ensure our Clients can have confidence that each Candidate presented is capable of delivering what is required. The result is evident in our 99% success rate of EiA placed business leaders remaining in their roles for a minimum of 12 months with most progressing into more senior leadership roles.
Has Executives in Africa entered into any strategic partnerships?
We see every relationship we enter into with every client as a strategic partnership. We believe we can have a positive and lasting impact on Africa through the quality of the business leaders we place with our clients. These are the business leaders who are building successful organisations, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth.
What can you say about the changes and developments, if any, in executive hiring in African companies?
Two main things. Firstly, companies are now really starting to understand executive search and where it will benefit their talent acquisition strategies. Previously, many companies were not embracing effective workforce planning, creating robust employee value propositions and other talent management strategies. As the benefits of effective HR business partnering has become more widely understood, and therefore valued (in the last 3-4 years especially) so business leaders have understood the impact that finding the best talent can have on bottom line results and growth and started investing in specialist firms to get it right.
Secondly, as the recruitment profession as a whole, from entry level right through to executive hiring, has become more established across Africa, access to the best talent has become more and more readily available. Through this, companies are starting to understand the talent landscape better and are now relying less and less on expatriate hires for senior management position, driving localization strategies strongly within their organisations.
What’s the latest news from Executives in Africa?
We launched our new marketing products in January 2018, with a website update concurrently. We are really proud of these materials which aim to provide more colourful and visual representations of our Search Process and better reflecting the vibrant continent we serve. So far our clients, old and new, have loved the new materials!
We also just got back from Lagos Nigeria (earlier in April) where I gave a Masterclass on ‘Practical Tools to Attract, Engage and Match Top Talent’ at the HR Expo Africa 2018. This was an exciting HR conference focusing on Leading and Managing Culture Change in Organisations with expert speakers from all over the world. We combined this trip with the opportunity to meet up with many of our clients and candidates on the ground in Lagos, both old and new.
What can be expected of your company the remaing quarters of the year?
My co-MD, Richard Putley, is taking a team out to Nairobi in May and we have further trips booked to Ethiopia and Rwanda to meet with clients. It’s important for us to invest in time on the ground in Africa and build long term relationships. This is a people business.
We also have a new CRM system going live in May. We are really excited about this because it will allow us to work even more closely in partnership with our clients allowing them to log on and see real time progress of the Search as well as adding their own comments and notes to individual candidate files. It will offer our clients true transparency over the work behind the Search and give greater confidence of the due diligence behind the final shortlisted candidates.
Who should contact Executives in Africa, and why?
Anyone who is looking to hire senior management or executive leadership talent to be based on the ground in Africa and needs to know they have hired the very best candidate in the market for that particular role. This might be for a critical leadership role or for roles requireing a very specific or technical skill set which is in short supply. Our Search Process can be applied to roles ranging from $70,000 basic salaries right through to million dollar packages.
Why would they use EiA? Simply because I genuinely believe we are the best firm in the world to deliver long term sustainable talent to roles based on the ground in Africa. We know Africa, we have a track record of success for over 400 mandates across 34 countries. In short, we deliver results, even where others have failed.
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