Across Australia, the demand for experienced Executives & Board members remains consistently high.

Areas where we are seeing growth are:

  • Technology
  • HR
  • Not-for-Profit

Technology:

There is significant focus on Cyber Security and Risk at Board level.

For some organisations the focus is on ensuring that the skills to manage this sit within the Executive team. For others, that operate with significant data etc, the need is for skilled technologists with cyber and risk experience (CISO) to sit on the Board.

Coca-Cola Australia recently restructured to have their CIO report directly to the CEO.

In the past these skills were a ‘nice to have’ within an organisation. Now they are a ‘must have’, at least at Executive level.

The challenge here though is that as technology and digital skills are relatively new, candidates with these skills are often Gen Ys who may not yet have the required governance and Board skills.

This then requires Boards to rethink who, and how they hire. We are seeing some organisations establish Advisory Boards whereby people with the specialist skills, advise the board but don’t sit on it. This provides opportunities for technologist to gain board insight and to build up their experience for progression onto the Boards in the future.

Skills assessments within organisations are key to determine what skills are required and where they reside within the business. We are often called upon to conduct these for our clients.

HR:

It is a widely held belief that traditional HR leaders will become obsolete if they do not embrace the future world of work and the changes that this represents.

Tomorrow’s HR leader needs new skill sets that harness new technologies, predicts future needs and demonstrates agility in responding.

We are seeing a move towards identifying and attracting HR leaders through non-traditional sources.

Candidates that are progressive thinkers, modern leaders and influencers are attractive candidates for key HR roles.

Not-For-Profit (NFP):

Organisations within the NFP sector are starting to restructure themselves to accommodate senior Sales and Marketing roles. Business Development, Marketing, Digital, Branding; these are becoming more common as NFPs endeavour to become more commercial and improve their marketability.

Salaries are becoming more competitive in the NFP sector in order to meet market demand.

Diversity is a key area of focus at Executive and Boards level.

There is a conscious move at Executive and Board level to include greater diversity within shortlists.

This is not limited to gender but incorporates ethnicity, race and age as well.

In Government and the public sector there is significant focus on meeting 50:50 gender targets. Often this requires shortlists to present a balanced representation of males and females for roles.

Unconscious bias is an often debated and key focus in recruitment at senior levels.

Another observation is the move by some organisations to employ staff that reflect the diversity of their customer base. This is particularly evident in service-based organisations such as Insurance and Government agencies such as Centrelink.

Salaries – some are on the decline.

With the decline in the mining industry there has been a notable decrease in Executive salaries. This is particularly evident in the Mining, Oil and Gas sectors.

Whilst this is creating opportunities for other sectors to employ experienced, ex Mining Executives, we are seeing them having to take a significant reduction in their salaries.

For some employers this is casting doubt over candidates long term motivation for taking on roles at lesser rates and as such, they are undertaking additional due diligence to ensure reliability of senior hires.

Qualifications

For some candidates there is an expectation that an MBA will get you the job.

Whilst having an MBA is good, candidates still need to demonstrate leadership and success in order to secure senior roles.


David Reynolds is Group Manager, Executive & Boards at Davidson