Fish & Nankivell




Fish & Nankivell are pleased to share with you the following news and articles.


Feature 1

Penrhyn AGM

Fish and Nankivell is a founding partner of Penrhyn international, a global partnership of independently owned executive search firms with over 40 offices in 23 countries.

Fish and Nankivell hosted the AGM and annual conference for Penrhyn between the 5th and 7th of April 2017 in Melbourne. Partners from these firms came to Melbourne for the AGM and conference, which was the third time Fish and Nankivell had hosted this event in Melbourne.

It was announced at the AGM that Penrhyn had enjoyed a record year for cross border assignments, where partner firms in a number of countries had worked together to serve the global requirements of clients. It was also reported that total member revenues for 2016 had increased to US 61.4 million. This result places Penrhyn in the top 20 global search firms.

It was also announced that Penrhyn had strengthened its European presence with the addition of Dotto Research in Italy. Penrhyn has also enhanced its North American presence with the addition of Leaders & Co-and Davies Park Executive Search in Canada.

A highlight of the conference was the further development of specialist practice groups within Penrhyn including the industrial group, financial services, technology, media and telecoms, private equity, and automotive. A new initiative, with the establishment of an education and not-for-profit practice group, was very exciting as it represents a very substantial part of Penrhyn's client base.

Penrhyn's South East Asian partner, The People At Work, reported on a very interesting seminar they are conducting in Singapore during July 2017. The seminar will focus on the transition of CFOs moving to CEO roles.


Feature 2

Some thoughts on the Reference process

Yes, very much in the news in Australia this last year, especially now Myer are back in the news, but referencing is a subject that clients discuss with us extensively at the appointment end of an assignment.

In our search process, candidates for long list presentation have been recommended to us by several people at least. That means that in considering the Assignment Specification, and sources interaction with that individual, several sources have said they are worth considering. We will then have spoken to the individual and assessed their suitability for ourselves. While this can lead to shorter Long Lists it has (over 30 years of our existence) produced better quality lists.

After we have selected a potential short list with the client, interviewed them and then constructed a recommended set for client interviews, we are building a group of characteristics as to why each person is on the list. This is presented to the client in the Candidate Report, along with our assessment of potential issues that have come to light.

The client then tests these in one client interview, or several.

The reference checks are built from this base. References:

  1. Verify the facts of a resume
  2. check the positive reasons for selecting this candidate are borne out by the referees view of prior work experience
  3. investigate potential queries uncovered or left unanswered in interviews

It is critical to the quality of the checks, and central to our process at Fish & Nankivellto:

  1. Nominate specific people relevant to each issue, positives and queries, that is “the person you reported to at XYZ Corp when you were doing the Big Project” if the project demonstrated key success factors in considering the person for this role. “Your Operations or Finance peer at ABC Corp” to test queries on interaction with peers, for example.
  2. Establish – usually by ringing corporate numbers not mobiles - you are speaking to the person you have been referred to. Fish & Nankivell have been in the Australian Search market for 30 years, often we are speaking to people known to the practice, which adds a significant layer of veracity.
  3. Verify the facts, positives and explore potential issues with each referee
  4. In addition Open questions can be used to build a holistic understanding of the candidate verifying or challenging the impression they have left at the client.

The above are critical aspects of risk management, and central to the effectiveness of the Search in reducing the risk of recruiting key, mission critical, successful staff.

Andrew Bonwick

Search Dome.jpg

Feature 3

Search or Advertised Recruitment

When looking for executives, particularly senior executives, how do you choose between a Recruitment or a Search process?

What are they?

Recruitment (or "Advertised Selection") is a market scan activity –“ who is available?” It uses a variety of techniques for attracting the attention of potential applicants so they can self-select into a candidate pool. These can include advertising campaigns, database searches within recruitment agencies and push based marketing of job ads, as LinkedIn is doing. The aim is to get as wide a coverage as possible so that filtering can potentially produce a viable candidate pool.

Search is a judgement process. The process brings the consultant and the client into close agreement about the characteristics of the targeted person, and then the consultant uses specific research, via credible sources, to identify potential candidates that are suited to and attracted to the role by the consultant. The consultant creates the pool of candidates for the client, using their judgement of which candidates are best able to meet or exceed the brief.

Therein lie the issues. Advertised recruitment is basically a marketing process, and shares all the issues of contemporary marketing. Indeed the advent of social media has disintermediated the advertised recruitment in a similar way to other marketing processes. Not only does it make it hard to cut through the noise of the modern market place, but the tools available (especially SEEK - remember the old classified advertisements pages? -and LinkedIn) make the actual process of advertising deceptively simple, and a lot cheaper than print advertising into the bargain.

There are situations where advertised recruitment is the best approach.

"I can describe simply the skills I need, and there are plenty of people out there."
"The role is part of a well developed team, and the risks of the person not fitting in are manageable."
"Brought these sort of people in a dozen times"

Companies where there is spare HR resource that can manage a recruitment process can find internally managed recruitment to be cost effective. The process includes writing and placing effective advertising copy, replying to candidates, creating criteria and putting candidates into ranked lists, screening to short lists and the logistics of interviews. Each step takes time to be done carefully and effectively. Where the HR resource is more constrained, then using a Recruitment Agency can mean that your organisation's resources are more focused on professional support at key points in the process than delivering the logistical and tedious processing that is a core part of advertised recruitment.

Search addresses a different set of risks.

"This is a Business/Leadership/Managerial critical role. I have to get it right."
"I can describe what I want, but the critical issues are leadership, cultural fit, that special something. How do I describe that in an advertisement? Even if I do, how do I know that is what they can deliver?"
"I have never had to make such an important hire."
"I need a partner in the business, new skills to help me deliver/cope/grow."
"How do I get the best person for this role?"

Search uses multiple avenues of information about people. Peers, managers and mentors past and present are able to offer insight on how an individual should perform in a role.

Our firm is one of the handful of pure Search practices in Australia. We at Fish & Nankivell are experienced professional managers in our own right, and bring that experience, and search skill to

  • developing a clear comprehensive Specification,
  • finding credible sources to present the Specification to,
  • using open question techniques about potential candidates to establish the strengths and issues they would have,
  • critique of candidate and source information and perspectives, and
  • building the pools of sources and candidates.

The firm's database is a comprehensive and confidential repository. The initial phase of any search is a review of data in the system and the relevance of individuals to the assignment. This includes cv's, observations by Principals sourced from prior contact with each individual, specific reflections on individuals by peers, manangers and stakeholders about the qualities of those individuals. This is a time intensive and comprehensive review that populates the list of sources and initial potential candidates from the distillation of our corporate experience. It is the start of the research process.

The search process itself is an exhaustive exploration of many avenues toward potential candidates. It is not a trot around the peers in competitive Companies, tho they may be potential candidates in a small number of assignments. It is more critical to examine industries with similar issues to find experienced engaged professional managers that will bring experience, specific capabilities and cultural fit to the role. A good short list is a combination of candidates with relevant (not identical) experience and different contributions and approaches to the critical issues.

There are a number of indications that the research has been comprehensive. These include repeated suggestions of specific candidates or sources for investigation, and comfort by the client that the list is comprehensive and interesting.

Finding the correct Search partner for your role is therefore important. Fish & Nankivellis a dedicated Search practice owned by the operating partners. As I noted above, we are all well credentialed professional managers, so we understand the business issues you are facing, and bring that understanding and experience to the critical evaluation of potential candidates. We undertake all of the professional research ourselves, and do not use internal or external researchers. You get our expertise full time on your assignment.

We have been members of the professional association AESC for many years. This provides significant assurance to the client that we only ever act for the Company. Specifcally, we do not earn fees by hawking around candidates, we always act as the adviser to the client -who is the best candidate for this role.

We own the business, so your satisfaction is our business sustainability. 2014 is our 30th year, and we look forward to many more.

Andrew Bonick