UAE ideal for executives: Pedersen & Partners

DUBAI - The UAE has all the materials and perks needed to lure executives to establish their headquarters for the Middle East here, international executive search firm Pedersen & Partners said.

By Alvin R. Cabral

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Published: Wed 17 Nov 2010, 10:36 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:10 PM

“The Middle East is a key area of focus for us, and in this respect, we see the UAE as an ideal hub for the region,” Michael Al Nassir, a Partner at Pedersen & Partners, told Khaleej Times in an interview. “Dubai and Abu Dhabi provide a strong infrastructure that is convenient for multinationals and large regional groups, making them ideal headquarters for the Middle East region,” he added.

Executive search is a highly competitive profession, Al Nassir said, and the UAE, especially in Dubai, fits perfectly into this given the rapid rise of doing business here.

Excerpts from the interview:

How have executive searches differed from the past years/decade, especially with the advent of better technology?

The executive search profession has evolved over the years in several respects. Several decades ago, executive search would have been a service used exclusively to find worldwide CEOs for large multinational, and high-level board members for large national groups. Over the last decade, the executive search service had benefitted from the evolution of information technology. The profession’s processes have adapted to use today’s pervasive access to technology, providing the consultants with easily and permanently accessible data.

In your field of specialisation, is it a competitive one? How can you differ this from traditional job hunting?

Executive search is a highly competitive profession. Not only by the nature of the business, but also by the nature of the consultants themselves, who are often strong business leaders in their own right and wield a significant influence over the outcome of corporate leadership hiring. Traditional recruitment tends to rely more on spontaneous applicants sending their CVs to agencies, who would advertise the roles online or in traditional media, and rely on their database of past applicants to help their clients recruit.

How much is the company involved in the Middle East and the UAE?

The Middle East is a key area of focus for us, and in this respect, we see the UAE as an ideal hub for the region. Dubai and Abu Dhabi provide a strong infrastructure that is convenient for multinationals and large regional groups, making them ideal headquarters for the Middle East region. The region is generally in a growth mode, the scale of which depends on individual countries, with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Lebanon are among the most dynamic. In addition to Dubai, we now also have a direct presence in Egypt and are preparing to establish ourselves in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia .

What do companies look for in an executive, and how have they responded to the challenges of their role?

Until 2008, it seemed that the markets in general were going to continue in unprecedented growth. In hindsight, it is easy to say that it could not have been expected to continue forever. Looking at past management decision of senior leaders, be they in worldwide or country leadership roles, it is easy to find fault. One common trait, however, can be found among companies that did not fare well during the crisis — they were not prepared.

What is the potential of the recruitment market?

The recruitment market in general is a large business segment, which is again now growing due to increasing demand. The executive search segment is a subset of that market, and in the Middle East, sizeable due to the continued demand for experienced management professionals. The market is able to sustain good number of firms covering the Middle East region.

Does it make sense to hire more leaders? Will this be as effective in leading a company?

Time and time again, in crisis or in growth, it has been empirically proven that the success or failure of a company of any size to a large extent depends on its leadership. How a company’s leaders are able to define and execute a strategy, motivate the teams and compete on an open market determines their success and sustainability.

What are your expansion plans? Are you planning to invest more here in the Middle East and the UAE?

We plan to further extend our Middle East presence, with the imminent opening of a presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Looking forward at 2011, we would like to add to our coverage map countries such as Lebanon and Iraq, and continuing on to Qatar and Kuwait.

Is it still good to do business in Dubai?

The level of revenue in the executive search segment dropped at the end of 2008 and 2009, but has seen a rise again in 2010, and many firms are now recovering and seeing growth. Generally speaking, the firms that were able to adapt to the crisis by bringing down the costs, retaining clients and maintaining a presence here are now benefitting from their commitment to the region. And as Dubai is still considered the hub for the Middle East region, many multinationals and large regional groups are now investing in building up their HQs.

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