Head-hunting in the Holy Land

Korn/Ferry, the world’s largest executive recruitment company, has teamed up with Israeli executive search company Emda, adding Israeli talent to its 1.2-million-strong worldwide database.

February 14, 2013 23:16
2 minute read.
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New Microsoft "Surface" tablet 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/David McNew)

Korn/Ferry, the world’s largest executive recruitment company, has teamed up with Israeli executive search company Emda, adding Israeli talent to its 1.2-million-strong worldwide database.

“Despite the size of Israel, we see great potential in the local workforce,” said Bernard Zen-Ruffinen, president of Korn/Ferry International’s Europe, Middle East and Africa region, pointing specifically to hi-tech and technology.

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Korn/Ferry is following the lead of companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Nestle, which chose to open local offices in Israel, he said.

“Korn/Ferry understands that the Israeli market is an incubator for both technology and for companies who are growing substantially,” Emda chairwoman Nurit Berman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “We felt that Israel is ready to upgrade the methodology of how to bring executives on board.”

Whereas the Israeli business culture once relied on homegrown executives and managers, globalization has changed the face of the market, she said, adding: “The culture is different today. For the last 20 to 25 years we’ve experienced a reorganization process in which companies need to bring executives in from the outside when there’s a need for new leadership or new knowledge that has not been homegrown.”

With Israel becoming a technological hub for global organizations, the need to find appropriate talent to bridge the cultural divide in business is crucial. When an American company, for example, decides to begin operations in Israel, instead of exporting one of their executives, they may seek to hire a local talent who knows the local business culture and community.

“We have to find the person who is Israeli enough to flourish in this market and American enough to work with the headquarters, so that’s where our added value comes in,” Berman said. “It’s an interesting process of learning who is who in which zoo.”

In order to assess candidates for its database, Emda does hefty due-diligence research on managers’ career histories, skill sets, knowledge and personality. Finding the right fit is important because missteps can be costly to both their reputation and their clients’ companies.

“Making a mistake by recruiting the wrong executive can cost the client company – are you sitting down? – 10 times the executive’s yearly income,” Berman said. “So we can’t take any risk.”

The estimate includes both costs of damages done and opportunity cost for business not created, she said, adding: “The damage is not just the salary; it’s the people who left, the business they didn’t create, the bad relationships.”

The partnership with Korn/Ferry, which earned $790 million of revenues in 2012 and has placed more than 100,000 senior executives in its history, is not just a one-way street for the Israeli market. It provides Emda a view of what skills are necessary to stay competitive in an international market, which it uses to provide career consulting for Israeli managers.

In addition, with access to Korn/Ferry’s global database, Emda also helps Israeli companies that are growing internationally find the local talent they need.

“Can you imagine that you need to find a CEO for a subsidiary in Japan?” Berman asked. “How do you identify the specific Japanese person who will be able to work in that environment?” The partnership is just the latest step in Israel’s development into a global player in the world of business, she said.

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