FlyTitle: Headhunters

The industry tasked with finding bosses is more powerful than ever, even though the value it provides remains hard to measure

猎头这个行当前所未有地强大,但其提供的价值仍难以衡量

经济学人双语版-带我去见老大 Take me to a leader

FOR A FEW months last year Matthieu (not his real name) was on the most important team in finance. SWIFT, a global payments-messaging service owned by 11,000 banks, was looking for a new chief. So was CLS, an institution that settles four-fifths of worldwide foreign-exchange turnover. Each had hired Matthieu’s firm to find one. He was aware of the stakes. Both outcomes were going to “impact everything” that money touches, he told The Economist at the time. His voice barely rose over the mellow music of a Manhattan hotel’s bar but nonetheless it carried a bass note of self-importance.

去年有几个月,马修(化名)在金融界最重要的团队里工作。环球同业银行金融电讯协会(以下简称SWIFT,是11,000家银行使用的全球支付结算电文服务系统)当时在寻找新舵手。处理全球五分之四外汇交易结算的CLS也有同样的需求。两家机构都雇请了马修的公司来物色人选。他清楚其中的利害。两个最终人选都将对金融界的“方方面面带来影响”,他当时这样告诉本刊。在曼哈顿一家酒店的酒吧里,他说话的声音勉强压过柔和的音乐声,但其中带着一丝自命不凡的低沉。

The firm got the job done. Javier Pérez-Tasso, SWIFT’s former Americas head, took over as boss in July. Marc Bayle de Jessé, an official at the European Central Bank, started at CLS in December. The placements testify to the brokering brawn of executive-search firms. The industry’s top tier is busier than ever. The bosses of 311 of America’s 3,600 listed firms left their jobs in 2019—the highest share on record. Someone needs to find their replacements.

他的公司完成了任务。SWIFT前美洲区负责人哈维尔·佩雷斯-塔索(Javier Pérez-Tasso)于去年7月接任该公司CEO。欧洲央行官员马克·贝莱·德耶西(Marc Bayle de Jessé)则在12月开始接任CLS的CEO。这两起“新官到位”体现了猎头公司的中介实力。猎头行业里的佼佼者们如今最是繁忙。美国3600家上市公司中有311家的老板在2019年离职,是有记录以来的最高比例。总得有人来寻找他们的替任者。

Like Matthieu, the search industry is secretive, and numbers are hard to pin down. Estimates from AESC, a trade body, suggest that the business has enjoyed strong growth for much of the past 30 years—with the exception of slumps after the dotcom bust in 2000 and the financial crisis of 2007-09 (see chart 1). AESC reckons global executive-search revenues grew by 12% in 2018 and that many firms had their best year ever in 2019 (for which it is still crunching the numbers).

和马修一样,这个行业行动隐秘,相关数据难以掌握。据行业组织高级行政管理人员搜寻顾问联会(以下简称AESC)的估计,过去30年里,除了2000年互联网泡沫破裂后及2007年至2009年金融危机期间,猎头业务基本保持强劲增长(见图表1)。据AESC估计,2018年全球猎头业务收入增长了12%,许多公司在2019年取得了前所未有的佳绩(AESC仍在统计具体数字)。

经济学人双语版-带我去见老大 Take me to a leader

Today, the biggest search firms hold sway over who rules many of the world’s most potent organisations. The best deserve their hefty fees, clients say. But the industry is facing increased scrutiny, amid suspicions that it may be holding back performance and diversity at the top.

如今,在决定由谁来管理全球许多最具影响力的机构时,那些最大的猎头公司起着关键作用。客户表示,给顶尖猎头公司付高额费用是值得的。但外界质疑这类公司可能拖累了企业高层的表现和多元化,令该行业面临更多的审视。

Executive search—headhunting, in the vernacular—emerged in the post-war boom, when fast-growing firms in Europe and America began fighting over experienced leaders. The battle intensified in the 1970s as the internationalisation of business turned a consulting backwater into a mainstream profession. One recruiter’s ex-boss recalls opening 30 outposts that decade, from Singapore to Sydney.

俗称“猎头”的高管搜寻服务诞生于二战后的繁荣时期,当时欧美迅速发展的公司开始争抢经验丰富的领导人才。在70年代经营国际化的大潮下,人才争夺战愈演愈烈,原本停滞不前的人li咨询服务变成了一个热门行业。一家招聘机构的前高管回忆,在那十年间,他的公司在新加坡、悉尼等地开设了30个分支机构。

Just as quickly, the business earned a reputation for sloppiness. Recruiters were “golf-course, back-slapping sales guys”, as one veteran admits. Candidates in their Rolodexes were lazily recycled. Criteria for drawing up shortlists were often a mystery, says Angeles Garcia-Poveda of Spencer Stuart, a search firm.

几乎以同样快的速度,这个行业落得个马虎敷衍的名声。一位资深人士承认,猎头顾问就是些“在高尔夫球场上拍肩膀拉关系的推销员”。推荐的人选来来回回就是名片盒里那些人。确定最后人选名单的标准往往是个谜,猎头公司史宾沙(Spencer Stuart)的安杰利斯·加西亚-波菲达(Angeles Garcia-Poveda)说。

Fifty years later they have become tightly woven into the fabric of corporate life, and are seen by most multinationals as indispensable. Five giants—Spencer Stuart, Heidrick & Struggles, Russell Reynolds Associates, Egon Zehnder and Korn Ferry—dominate CEO search. This quintet, known as the “Shrek” firms, earned fees of $4.8bn in 2018, 14% more than the year before and 43% more than in 2014, according to Hunt Scanlon Media, a trade publisher. Spencer Stuart places an executive in a leadership role or boardroom 11 times a day, says Ben Williams, its boss. (The Economist Group has recently employed Egon Zehnder and Heidrick & Struggles to fill senior roles, including CEO and chairman.)

五十年后,猎头们已深深融入企业运营,大多数跨国公司都认为它们不可或缺。史宾沙、海德思哲(Heidrick&Struggles)、罗盛咨询(Russell Reynolds Associates)、亿康先达(Egon Zehnder)和光辉国际(Korn Ferry)这五大巨头目前雄霸CEO猎头业务。据行业出版商亨特斯坎隆传媒(Hunt Scanlon Media)的数据,这五大公司(它们的首字母合起来正好是“Shrek”,因而被合称为“史莱克”公司)在2018年的收入为48亿美元,同比增长14%,较2014年增长43%。史宾沙的老板本·威廉姆斯(Ben Williams)表示,史宾沙平均每天成功推荐11人成为高管或董事。(经济学人集团近期通过亿康先达和海德思哲物色高管,包括CEO和董事长。)

Interviews with more than 50 insiders suggest that 80-90% of Fortune 250 or FTSE 100 companies pay headhunters to find their CEO, even when the successful candidate is likely to come from within a firm’s own ranks. Among the next tier of companies, perhaps half do. Universities, sports clubs and officialdom enlist them, too. Last year their clients included English football’s Premier League and the International Paralympic Committee.

对50多位业内人士的访谈显示,财富250强公司或富时100指数公司中有八九成会请猎头物色CEO,即便最后的入选者很可能来自公司内部。在次一级的公司中有约一半是如此。大学、体育俱乐部及政府部门也会使用猎头。去年,猎头的客户就有英超联盟和国际残奥会。

As the big headhunters have grown bigger, boutique firms have struggled to keep up. Nonetheless, some with deep expertise in specific industries or corporate functions have thrived, says Nancy Garrison Jenn, who helps multinationals headhunt the right headhunters. True Search, a tech-focused outfit, saw its revenues jump by 64% in 2018. Lower down the scale, the rise of online social networks has clobbered recruiters specialising in mere mortals like department heads and middle managers—since, as one puts it, “anyone can buy a computer, get a LinkedIn licence and call themselves a search expert”.

大型猎头公司规模越来越大,小型精品公司则苦苦维持。不过,在特定行业或企业职能方面拥有深厚专业能力的小公司仍然大展身手,帮助跨国公司选择合适猎头公司的南希·加里森·詹恩(Nancy Garrison Jenn)表示。以技术立足的猎头公司True Search2018年收入增长了64%。再往下一层看,随着在线社交网络的兴起,专门找寻部门主管和中层管理人员等普通人才的招聘公司大受打击。正如有人说的 ,“买台电脑,在领英上弄个许可,谁都可以自称专业猎头”。

The big headhunters have benefited from the confluence of four forces. First, boards are looking for an ever broader skillset in modern CEOs. Bosses should be physically fit to withstand the brutal workload, comfortable dealing with the media and, increasingly, woke. They must grapple with complexity as big firms get bigger and industries converge—giants like Apple or Amazon are at once retailers, consumer-goods companies and tech firms—and with new threats, such as cybercrime.

大型猎头公司受益于四股力量的融合。首先,董事会在寻找具备更广泛能力的现代CEO。高管要身体健康,能承受繁重的工作,不怕与媒体打交道,还要愈发警觉。随着大公司变得更大以及跨行业融合(像苹果或亚马逊这样的巨头同时是零售商、消费品企业、科技公司),高管们必须努力应对这种复杂度,以及网络犯罪等新威胁。

Second, the rise of private equity (PE) means greater management churn at firms subject to buy-outs. America has some 8,000 PE-backed companies, double the number in 2006. Headhunters hustle in the hope of supplying bosses for PE firms’ entire portfolios. A partner at a buy-out giant says it works with just three providers because it wants VIP treatment.

其次,私募股权(PE)的兴起导致被收购公司的管理层流失率更大。美国约有8000家由私募股权公司投资的公司,是2006年数字的两倍。猎头公司忙于为私募股权公司投资组合内的各个公司寻找高管。某并购巨头的一位合伙人表示,自己公司只与三家猎头公司合作,因为想要获得VIP待遇。

The third reason for the headhunting boom lies in emerging markets. Scions of business dynasties in places like India increasingly want to devolve control of subsidiaries to professional managers, says Dinesh Mirchandani of Boyden, one of the oldest search firms. Startups like Ola, a ride-hailing firm, are looking for executives to help them conquer foreign markets. China, too, has champions keen to expand abroad but lacks managers with international expertise.

促成猎头热潮的第三个原因是新兴市场。最老牌猎头公司之一的博伊登(Boyden)的迪内希·默克达尼(Dinesh Mirchandani)表示,在印度等地,越来越多家族企业的接班人想放权把子公司交由职业经理人管理。网约车公司Ola这类创业公司正在寻找高管来帮助自己征服外国市场。中国也有一些领军企业希望在海外扩张,但缺少具有国际业务能力的管理人员。

Lastly, boards and regulators are increasingly urging firms to plan for succession years in advance—and not, as in the past, to rely on a name in an envelope, to be unsealed should the boss be hit by a bus. Headhunters gladly help by benchmarking internal stars against potential external candidates. The pressure to plan ahead has led to the growth of all sorts of other ancillary services too, from leadership development to board-effectiveness assessment. Those now account for 43% of revenue at Korn Ferry, the largest Shrek.

最后,董事会和监管机构日益敦促企业提前几年为高管接班做规划,而不是像过去那样,把继任人的名字封在信封里,到老板因故无法继续统领企业时再拆封。猎头公司乐于协助公司比较机构内部的明星候选人和潜在的外部候选人。提前规划的压力促进了各种辅助服务业务的增长,包括领导力培养和董事会效力评估等。这类业务如今占了“史莱克老大”光辉国际收入的43%。

Growth in demand has affected headhunting’s supply-side. Nobody has ever studied to become a headhunter but the profession is becoming more diverse. Those serving in its ranks include ex-engineers, a former Olympic gymnast and an erstwhile neuroscientist. The big five are big employers of former McKinsey consultants. New recruits like the fast pace and the opportunity to interact with boards.

需求增长也对猎头公司的供给侧产生了影响。做猎头的人没有谁接受过专门的猎头培训,但这个行业正变得越来越多元化。如今的猎头顾问曾经做过工程师、奥运会体操运动员或神经科学家。五大猎头公司聘用了很多麦肯锡的前咨询顾问。新入职者喜欢这个行业的快节奏和与公司董事会打交道的机会。

They also enjoy the money. A median partner at the Shrek five typically earns $600,000 a year, according to industry veterans. The top 1% get $3m-4m, most of it bonus. Those hiring for finance usually earn the most.

他们也爱这一行的报酬。据行业资深人士称,“史莱克”的合伙人年薪中位数一般是每年60万美元。收入在前1%的人可赚得300至400万美元,其中大部分为奖金。金融业猎头通常收入最高。

Seven-figure slice

分走七位数

Generous pay comes courtesy of eye-watering fees. For decades headhunters charged one-third of the chosen candidate’s first-year compensation (including any bonus). Caps became more common over the past decade as CEOS’ salaries climbed into the stratosphere, fees more often exceeded $1m—and clients started to rebel. Now fees at the top end are typically limited to between $500,000 and $1m, though the boom in ancillary fees means overall revenues continue to grow fast.

高额报酬来自令人肉痛的服务收费。几十年来,猎头公司的收费一般是中选候选人第一年薪酬的三分之一(包括各种奖金)。过去十年,随着CEO的薪水变得高不可攀,猎头服务收费往往超过一百万美元,客户开始反抗,设置收费上限变得愈加普遍。现在,最高端猎头的收费通常限制在50至100万美元间,但由于辅助服务收费激增,猎头的总体收入还在快速增长。

The search for a CEO takes anywhere from 90 days to a year. The board forms a committee to oversee the process, which the headhunter helps shape. It then helps directors crystallise what they want the new boss to achieve, such as boosting profits or expanding into new markets, and draws up a list of required competencies.

寻找一名CEO怎么也要90天到一年的时间。流程由猎头公司帮助制订,由董事会成立委员会监督。接着,猎头帮助董事们明确对新掌门人的业绩期望,如提升利润或开拓新市场,然后拟出清单列明所要求的能力。

经济学人双语版-带我去见老大 Take me to a leader

Once the actual headhunting begins, recruiters hire armies of researchers to comb through databases containing millions of profiles; gone are the days when a cabinet full of CVs and organograms of superstar firms like IBM would suffice. Lists of candidates who look good on paper are then compared against tips from informants, who are typically former colleagues or chatty middlemen.

猎头行动真正开始后,猎头公司会聘用大量研究人员,从包含数百万份个人档案的数据库中筛选候选人,只靠一柜子简历和IBM这类明星企业的组织架构图就足够的日子已经一去不复返了。之后,猎头公司会把从档案看来合适的那些人选与知情人士(通常是旧同事或健谈的中间人)提供的信息做比对。

To whittle down a longlist of 15 or so people, consultants quiz candidates’ suppliers, clients, ex-bosses and subordinates. They check Glassdoor, a website which lets workers rate employers. The phone is fine, but visits are better—valuable information can emerge in the last minutes of a meeting, or on the way to the lift.

为得出一份15人左右的初选名单,猎头顾问会询问候选人的供应商、客户、前上司及下属。他们会在员工评价雇主的网站Glassdoor上查询。打电话固然可以,但直接见面更好——会面的最后几分钟或者去电梯的路上可能拿到有价值的信息。

It is often only at this point that candidates are contacted. Since the most desirable hires typically already hold plush posts, and are constantly wooed by rival recruiters, headhunters must fight hard for their attention. They look to breakfast regularly with high-fliers, and mark their job anniversaries and dates when bonuses are due—discreet inquiries may elicit news of a disappointing payout, and signal that an executive may be looking for a change. They offer a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. Denis Marcadet of Vendôme Associés, a search firm in Paris, remembers humbled financiers weeping for hours in his office during the subprime meltdown.

通常只有到了这个节点,猎头顾问才会联系候选人。由于最受觊觎的招聘目标往往已身居高位、待遇优厚,而且对手猎头公司也是紧追不舍,因此他们必须使出浑身解数争夺候选人的关注。他们定期与之共进早餐,记下这些人的入职周年纪念日和奖金发放日。小心谨慎地探听,也许就会套出对奖金失望的消息,发现某个高管想要另寻高枝的迹象。世道艰难的时候,他们还提供了哭诉的肩膀。巴黎的猎头公司Vendôme Associés的丹尼斯·马卡德(Denis Marcadet)回想说,次贷危机期间,受挫的金融家会在他办公室里哭诉几个小时。

In interviews headhunters deploy their charms to get candidates to lower their guard. But face-to-face assessment can be “a bit of voodoo”, says one. (It can also go awry if the chemistry is wrong. In his memoir, Robert Iger, Disney’s boss, recalls his interview for the job with Gerry Roche of Heidrick & Struggles as “one of the most insulting experiences of my career” because he viewed the questions as irrelevant and, worse, there was no food.) So recruiters have acquired tools to make it more scientific. They administer psychometric tests. Questionnaires gauge candidates’ norms and values. Synthesis, an advisory firm inspired by the recruitment of elite units in the Israeli army, even has shrinks dissect candidates’ answers to seemingly innocuous questions about their life stories.

在面谈中,猎头顾问会施展个人魅力令候选人放松提防。但一位猎头说,面对面的评估可能 “有点玄乎”。如果双方气场不合,也会坏事。迪士尼的老板罗伯特·伊格尔(Robert Iger)回忆说,自己接受海德思哲的格里·罗奇(Gerry Roche)的面试是“我职业生涯中最受侮辱的经历之一”,因为被问的尽是些离题的问题,更糟糕的是没有东西吃。因此,猎头公司已采购新工具,令过程更科学。它们会进行心理测验,用问卷调查评估候选人的行为准则及价值观。咨询公司Synthesis受以色列军方精锐部队招募方法的启发,甚至请来心理医生分析候选人对那些有关其个人经历的看似无甚玄机的问题给出的回答。

Boards or headhunters sometimes outsource deeper probing to specialists such as Hakluyt or StoneTurn, two British firms staffed with former spies, journalists and cops. (Paul Deighton, The Economist Group’s chairman, also chairs Hakluyt.) These corporate sleuths aim to tease out how bosses do deals, how they behave under pressure and whether they have ever crossed any ethical lines.

董事会或猎头公司有时会把更深入的查访工作外包给Hakluyt或StoneTurn之类的商业情报公司,这两家英国公司雇用了前间谍、记者及警察。(经济学人集团董事长保罗·戴顿[Paul Deighton]同时也是Hakluyt的董事长。)这些“企业侦探”的目标是弄清高管们做交易的风格、在压力情境下的行为方式,以及是否曾经越界失德。

Simulations are also becoming increasingly popular with clients (if not with candidates). Frontrunners might, for instance, be sent reports about an imaginary company, then asked to run mock board meetings, calm down emotional managers of troubled divisions or weather earnings calls with aggressive analysts.

客户也越来越喜欢采用模拟测试的方式(候选人可能不喜欢)。例如,可以向中意的候选人发送有关一家假想公司的报告资料,请他们主持模拟董事会会议,安抚面临困境的部门情绪激动的经理,或者主持业绩电话会议,应付咄咄逼人的分析师。

In the end, though, closing a big deal still often requires the human touch. Jill Ader, the chairwoman of Egon Zehnder, recalls taking an ideal but hesitant candidate off-site for three days to discuss the purpose of his life.

但到最后,要谈成大单往往还是需要一点人情味。亿康先达的董事长吉尔·阿德(Jill Ader)回忆说,她把一名理想但犹豫不决的候选人带到外面待了三天,畅谈人生目标。

For the headhunters, their candidate’s signature on a new contract equals success. For their clients, it’s more complicated. Plenty of data exist on would-be CEOs. Korn Ferry estimates that 87% of all executives aspire to become bosses; over one-third of applicants had career blow-ups before winning a top role, reckons ghSMART, an advisory firm; and so on. Yet it is trickier to measure the wisdom of choosing one candidate over another; it is impossible to know whether one of the rejected candidates might have done the job better.

对猎头公司而言,候选人签署新合同就算大功告成。但对其客户来说,事情要更复杂。关于未来的CEO们,已经有大量数据。光辉国际估计,所有高管中有87%渴望成为CEO。而据咨询公司ghSMART估算,超过三分之一的申请人在登上最高位前都有职场污点。还有其他种种数据。然而,更棘手的是,对候选人的取舍是否英明无从衡量,谁也不知道被刷下的候选人实际上是不是更胜任。

Getting it wrong can be costly. The Conference Board, a think-tank, finds that the costs of changing bosses (severance, search, lost productivity during the transition, and so on) are generally equivalent to 5% of annual profit.

选人不当可能要付出高昂代价。智库世界大型企业联合会(The Conference Board)发现,更换CEO的成本(遣散费、猎头费、过渡期生产率损失等)一般相当于年利润的5%。

Lacking objective measures on which to judge headhunters’ performance, board members often rely on their own impressions. And although some praise the service they receive, among others frustration is mounting.

由于缺乏客观指标来评判猎头公司的表现,董事们往往只是依赖个人观感。对于猎头服务,虽有人称赞,失望之情也与日俱增。

经济学人双语版-带我去见老大 Take me to a leader

Plenty of the things that hamper the industry are no fault of its own. Many companies make exasperating demands of headhunters and candidates. Some, for instance, want would-be CEOs to have a tête-à-tête with each member of the board, which in America and Britain typically numbers at least ten people. They may also demand regular testing of in-house candidates, which can poison a firm’s internal politics. Others request assessments that seem bizarre to candidates. After being asked to take a graphology test, one contender for the top job at Alstom, a French engineering giant, asked sarcastically if he would also be subjected to an intrusive medical examination, recalls a recruiter.

阻碍该行业发展的因素中有许多并不是该行业本身的错。许多公司对猎头和候选人提出的要求令人恼火。例如,有些公司希望CEO候选人与所有董事分别面谈,而在英美两国,公司通常至少有十名董事。它们可能还要求定期对内部候选人做测试,而这可能会毒害公司内部的政治环境。还有一些公司要求对候选人展开的评估让人感到荒诞不经。一位猎头顾问回忆说,某位应聘法国工程巨头阿尔斯通(Alstom)CEO的候选人在被要求进行笔迹测试后,语带讽刺地问,接下来是不是还要接受什么侵入性医学检查。

Another problem stems from contracts that bar headhunters from poaching people from firms they have previously recruited for, usually for at least a year. As the Shrek firms grow, in other words, their hunting-ground shrinks. It is clients who demand such clauses, but it does not stop those shortchanged by them from getting irate. “They tell me the candidates aren’t there,” fumes an executive who has chaired several companies. “Then I find there’s an ideal candidate at PepsiCo, but they already work for PepsiCo so they can’t touch it.”

另一个问题是有些合同禁止猎头公司从之前服务过的公司挖角,禁止期限通常至少为一年。也就是说,随着“史莱克”不断扩大,它们的狩猎范围逐渐缩小。要求加上此类条款的是客户,但无法阻止另一些因此而吃了亏的客户大为光火。“他们跟我说找不到合适人选,”曾在多家公司担任董事长的某位高管怒气冲冲地说,“后来我发现百事公司里有一个理想人选,但因为猎头公司已经服务过百事了,所以他们不能推荐这个人。”

Some of the big recruiters’ problems, though, are of their own making. Growth, especially at the Shreks, also leaves senior partners with less time for any one client. They jet around to sign contracts, but leave underlings who have less access and experience to do most of the heavy lifting. Moreover, since the rainmakers pocket the largest cut of the fee, their subordinates have less incentive to do a fine job. “Clients pay for haute couture but they get prêt-à-porter,” says a former chief of a Shrek firm.

不过,某些大型猎头公司的问题是它们自己造成的。猎头公司不断壮大,尤其是“史莱克”,令高级合伙人能分配给每位客户的时间变少。他们穿梭飞行于各地签合同,却把大部分复杂工作留给了资源和经验都欠缺的下属来完成。此外,由于收费的大头落入了这些呼风唤雨者囊中,下属们缺少动力去出色地完成任务。“客户付的是‘高级定制’的价钱,拿到的却是‘批量成衣’。” 一家“史莱克”公司的前老板说。

And although headhunters have grown less languorous since the easy-going 1970s, in one way they remain as lazy as before: many still seek to score easy wins by rehashing past work. A PE partner recounts being sent the same shortlist for two different finance-chief searches. A disproportionate share of CEOs are old-timers from a handful of blue chips, not all of which have had a stellar run (think of GE, several of whose past executives went on to Boeing).

尽管上世纪70年代的轻松光景过去后猎头公司已不再那么懒散,但在一个方面它们惰性如前:许多猎头仍想靠“炒冷饭”轻松过活。一家私募的合伙人称,他们有两次让猎头搜寻不同的财务高管,收到的却是同一份最终名单。CEO队伍中有太多人都是来自少数几家蓝筹公司的老将,而且并非人人都往绩卓越(看看GE,它的好几位高管后来去了波音)。

经济学人双语版-带我去见老大 Take me to a leader

Senior headhunters admit the industry is sometimes too quick to recommend the safe option when boards are reluctant to gamble on unconventional candidates. Despite progress in recent years, just 38 of the bosses of America’s 675 largest listed firms are women, and 59 non-white. It has grown harder for bright young things to get a look in. The average age of incoming CEOs has risen sharply, to 58, since 2005 (see chart 3). A survey by AESC, which represents 16,000 search professionals, ranks “attracting diverse talent” as the seventh-most-pressing issue for their firms in 2019, behind such things as “attracting digital talent” or “creating a culture of innovation”.

高级猎头顾问承认,有时候,当董事会不大愿意押注于非常规候选人时,猎头很快就会改为推荐保守人选。尽管近年来有所改进,但在美国675家最大上市公司的CEO中,只有38人是女性,59人为非白人。年轻才俊要闯入圈子已经变得越来越难。自2005年以来,新任CEO的平均年龄已急升至58岁(见图表3)。拥有16,000名猎头顾问会员的AESC的一项调查显示, “吸引多元化人才”被列为2019年猎头公司的第七大紧迫问题,排在“吸引数字技术人才”或“营造创新文化”之后。

The search within

内部搜索

Growing doubts about the value headhunters bring has led some clients to take the work in-house. An expanding list of corporate titans, including all of the tech giants, are building private squads of headhunters—often by poaching from the Shrek firms. Having focused at first on junior hires, these are working their way up to the C-suite, says Ms Garrison Jenn.

猎头公司带来的价值日益受到质疑,部分客户遂转为自助式。包括所有科技巨头在内,越来越多的大公司正在组建自己的猎头队伍——往往是从“史莱克”公司挖来的。加里森·詹恩表示,起初这些内部猎头只负责初级员工的招聘,现在正逐步扩展到高管层面。

Some company chairmen may wonder why they need an outside recruiter at all, when the ideal candidate is often staring them in the face. A recent Conference Board survey of executives and corporate secretaries found that 73% thought there was no need for a firm with a strong internal candidate for CEO to conduct an outside search. There appears to be no shortage of such talent within. Last year almost four-fifths of new S&P 500 bosses came from inside the firm, including that of Intel, a chipmaker. IBM recently picked the head of its cloud division to replace Ginni Rometty.

有些公司董事长可能会感到不解:理想人选往往近在眼前,为什么还要请外面的猎头?世界大型企业联合会近期对高管和公司秘书的调查发现,73%的受访者认为,内部已有强力CEO候选人的公司没必要再从外部搜罗人选。而企业内部似乎并不缺这类人选。去年,标普500指数公司中,几乎五分之四的新老板由公司内部晋升,包括芯片制造商英特尔。IBM最近就挑选了其云计算部门负责人接替罗睿兰。

Yet most large companies will continue to use search firms—even if they do not fully buy the science, or harbour other doubts. That is because external validation has a value all of its own. Recruiters can be crucial in helping build consensus when, as is so often the case, boards are split. It is as diplomats that the best headhunters earn their keep.■

然而,大多数大公司还是会继续使用猎头,即便它们并不完全信任其科学性,或仍怀有其他疑虑。这是因为外部验证独有的价值。鉴于董事会往往意见分裂,猎头可以在协助达成共识上发挥关键作用。最优秀的猎头们行走江湖靠的就是像外交官那样纵横捭阖。