Recruiter on The Prowl
July, 2012 - Nairobi, Kenya - While we may be acquainted to many companies engaging in recruitment at every level, Pedersen and Partners have cut their own niche. Their recruitment dwells on top of the notch executive, ranging from the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, company's board chairman and the like.
Sheila Mwihia is the Country Manager for Kenya and East Africa region for Pedersen and Partners, which is an international executive search firm with a presence in more than 40 countries. This strategy of spreading its wings across continents aims to capture different markets to match with the jobs
"Our business plan is not only to service those who are here, but also help those who are there (Europe or other areas) to set up shop here," says Sheila. With many Kenyans in the Diaspora and a growing need for them to come back to the country to work, Sheila says they are part of their business' target market. In this regard, the company endeavours to create a bridge for the two parties — providing opportunities to highly qualified professionals to organisations as well as assuring them of getting competitive packages.
Having set up base in Kenya, a first in East Africa, Sheila is optimistic of the opportunities its company already has in the region, enhanced by the accessibility of other African countries from Kenya. Linking people with jobs Is not only confined to Kenyans, but open to anyone from across the globe, which is made easier by having wholly owned offices across various continents. There is already growing interest in the Kenyan market and clients from other regions coming into Kenya as well. Sheila's role in recruiting top-of-thenotch executives is not an unfamiliar territory, having worked for eight years at Pricewaterhousecoopers (PWC) in the human resource department and at Sarova groups of hotels for seven years — her initial job in the recruitment industry.
Working at the two companies, as she attests, broadened her scope and improved her knowledge on recruitment. She had to deal with organisational development at a higher level, being exposed to international best practices around her field of expertise. Her ideal next career level after PWC was to merge her two experiences, with a keen focus on HR management and specialising on executive selection.
Recruiting for Pedersen & Partners "It is not an organisation that is known in this market, so that is a challenge," says Sheila. Their approach is different from the normal recruitment in the market, recruitment beyond the professional and academic qualifications.
"Executive recruitment has its own dynamics, because you are now beyond competencies...because these are people who are already tried and tested, so you need to gauge other core factors," says Sheila. Though dwelling to some extent on the generic face-to-face interviews, Sheila says that one of the other factors they have to establish in their selection are being visionary, which cannot be discerned by scanning through someone's curriculum vitae. The company's mandate when recruiting is to also have objective interviews and pick the right candidate, as opposed to subjective interviews where a candidate may be picked on the basis of their academic and/or professional credentials. Their business being dependent on relationships, Sheila says they link up organisations with professionals, business firms and also leverage on social media to inform people about opportunities in the market.
With a database of highly qualified professionals, and still growing it, Sheila says at the event a company approaches them to hire, they identify a potential candidate(s) from their database, approaches them for interviews and fronts a couple of most qualified candidates to the company. The company in such a case defines the competencies they are looking for, but Sheila and her team in an objective and transparent way advise the company on whom to pick.
Sheila says they prefer starting with a wider group and evaluate factors such as interest of the person in the job, skills and competencies and remuneration package proposed by the candidates. They then shortlist key candidates whom they propose to the hiring organisation.
Sheila reveals that they do not advertise for the positions, but prefer to be on the look-out and source for candidates themselves as it may be more productive and efficient as opposed to, for example, having to place a job advert in the newspaper. Anybody can upload their curriculum vitae on their database (via the website), but a screening process has to be done for purposes of quality, to ensure a database that is rich in terms of showing people's skills, competencies and what field/preferential sectors they are interested in, which Sheila believes is a strategic way of marketing oneself.
She reckons that some of the mistakes people make is how they brand themselves, by not using a CV to sell themselves which many times works against them. "We have an individual responsibility to put ourselves out there. There are professional networking forums through which one can let people know that 'I exist'" says Sheila, advocating for sites such as Linkedln for professional networking. In terms of cost, Sheila prefers that the client or corporate understand the nature of their job and the results they expect.
Having ventured into the Kenyan market in April 2012, Sheila is optimistic of the many opportunities in Kenya that she has yet to tap into.
Written by Murugi Ndwiga for Management Magazine