Starting-Up on the Other Side of the World
15 October, 2019
By Laurent Landie, LIM & Partner Executive Search (Thailand)
Recruit a Country Manager for a 4-year old American consulting company established in Thailand. The Client is a worldwide leader in consulting services, however they are in their infancy in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. This candidate would play a key role in the development, growth and expansion of the business in the ASEAN region.
In the beginning of the mission, we faced some challenges. The most difficult was attracting candidates to not only a recently established business, but among the first of its kind in Thailand.
We also needed a candidate able to understand the client profile: a large organization, presenting our second challenge: attracting candidates with experience at an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to join an SME (Small or Medium-sized Enterprise). Creating further complexity, this change would require both a change in size of the organization, and therefore work dynamics, but also a change in the line of work, as the candidate would transition from the manufacturing industry to consulting.
The third challenge was to navigate cultural differences, without precedent, as US and European companies were previously off limits due to their existing business relationships worldwide.
Other challenges unique to this search included interaction with target candidates working in Japanese companies. Management and corporate culture in Japanese and US companies are totally different. While Japanese companies have a strong hierarchy and centralized chain of command, US companies are flat and dynamic.
Finally, to ensure a perfect match following the selection process, we had to prepare the candidate, a manager coming from a large organizational structure with a lot of support, for a smaller work environment with a more hands-on approach.
We started searching for candidates showing the ability to adapt to a new culture and working style, as well as the ability to handle critical situations and build good relationships/trust within a team.
Our first step was an evaluation of their human skills rather than their technical capacities. We met with several candidates we believed could handle the position and coached them into the right mindset by highlighting the advantages of a smaller, more dynamic environment.
In the end, we selected the candidate with the strongest entrepreneurial spirit. We agreed together with the candidate that the shift from a manufacturing group, ranked number ten among peers, to a number one consulting firm, was the bridge to his dream of running his own company.
Following his placement, he has successfully managed to merge with a competitor and his feedback is positive. We are still in touch with this candidate and after four years on the job he is still very happy, and his dream to run his own business is still alive.