By Jeremy Bossenger of BossJansen Executive Search
A recent article on BusinessLive reports on the volumes of C-suite individuals leaving JSE-listed companies.
At last count, early April 2023, this amounted to over 40 chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) over the past year and four months. Below, I weigh in on the reasons for this alarming spate of resignations and suggest solutions with a nod to the executive search niche
In a recent opinion piece we shared with Retail Brief Africa, one of the six reasons we cited for striking up a close and long-term relationship with an executive search company is that the pace within a listed company is intense; and C-suite executives seldom have the time to think further than their immediate to-do list.
Lining up the successors
A retained executive search company keeps the matter of succession planning, as just one key responsibility, in mind at all times. In fact, a visible career path within a company can serve as an attractive feature to up-and-coming junior executives, and even be offered as a carrot to them in the hiring process.
A Forbes article focused on the importance of succession planning says it best: “Keep high-potential performers engaged by highlighting the opportunity to grow within. Be transparent about the process and retain your team through succession planning. Each leader can recommend training, mentorship and share expectations to fulfil future roles,” which your executive search partner can serve to action.
Because the departure of a key staff member can have a huge impact on the ability of a company to work towards its board-identified goals, putting a succession plan in place, in partnership with your executive search firm, is a strategy that can keep the momentum going and ensure that stakeholders are keen to make a financial investment in a company’s future.
Winning in a tough financial climate
It goes without saying that the current fiscal climate in South Africa is challenging beyond the pale – especially for CFOs. Added to this, according to experts at Sage, is the need for CFOs to drive digital transformation within their companies, and to select the best-in-class financial management solutions so that they can provide complicated insights at the board level.
Again, there is little time or energy left for hours to be spent in recruitment-related meetings, and having a long-term executive search partner on board who already knows what a specific department – such as finance – may require in a replacement staff member, goes a long way towards keeping important internal financial processes running smoothly.
A network that keeps on giving
One of the most shocking facts shared in the article mentioned above is the length of time it took one JSE-listed company to replace its CFO – two years! While the pressure under which CFOs have been labouring since the pandemic can’t be underestimated, with shareholders gunning for profitability and borrowing rates sky high, a reputable executive search firm has their ears to the ground and a network of possibilities to draw from. There’s no time for profits to waver, while in-house HR teams struggle through a wad of less-than-ideal CVs.
Executive search teams work through a detailed process to hire a high-level individual who matches a company’s culture and has the qualifications, skills and experience – never mind the charisma – to soothe other C-suite executives and convince an often hard-to-please board of their potential impetus within a role.
There’s really no time to waste in putting the right team in place to secure the funding needed from investors to take a company into the future; either this or your competitors will secure that portion of the limited investment pie.
Sources: Businesslive| Forbes| Cambridge| CFO| SAGE