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Excellence in Executive Search

Identifying and placing talent for the region’s Supply Chain sector

When it comes to identifying and placing talent for the region’s end-to-end Supply Chain sector, the leading Executive Search expert in Supply Chain & Logistics has a keen knack for engaging top-performing senior executives for his clients. Brian Cartwright is a rarity in an industry sector that’s often struggling to find and attract the right calibre of high-performance leadership talent.

As with any fast-paced and volatile business, discovering top and perfectly suited talent for the Supply Chain and Logistics industry can be difficult. In many instances there is a dearth of good talent, skills and experience which is why many corporations use the services of high end executive search firms to provide professional placement services. Many clients use them to identify suitable competent candidates that may not be immediately identifiable in the market and, essentially, avoid the cost of a bad hire.

Brian Cartwright, the Dubai-based Client Partner at Pedersen & Partners, has over fifteen years of experience in Executive Search and Recruitment, and credited with having successfully carried out hundreds of senior leadership searches for the global Supply Chain and Logistics sector. His Middle East and Africa experience consists of assignments completed over the course of a decade living and working in UAE. He specialises in Supply Chain and Logistics-related functions for top C-Suite, VP, and Director-level positions in global, regional, and country level roles, working with service providers and end-user companies including large listed corporations, family-owned conglomerates, SMEs, and start-ups.

During his career, he has successfully managed businesses in the Middle East and Europe. Prior to joining Pedersen & Partners, Cartwright founded his own Executive Search and Leadership Advisory firm, which focused on adding value to organisations, and recruiting senior executives across the entire Supply Chain spectrum. Global Supply Chain recently engaged with the dapper and affable Brian Cartwright, a veritable industry veteran. A regular contributor to the publication, he has been intimately involved with the industry and across a spectrum of top-tier line and functional managers for a considerable period of time in this region through his professional responsibilities and extensive networking. Here he offered us insights and perspectives on his work and the state of the ever-evolving, ever-changing and industry at large in this exclusive interview.

Global Supply Chain (GSC): Give us the brief 30-second spiel on Pedersen & Partners?

Brian Cartwright (BC): Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm, founded in 2001. We operate 57 wholly owned offices in 53 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Dubai was our first office in the MEA Region, opening in 2008.

Since then, Pedersen & Partners has established offices in Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia. We combine our comprehensive experience in emerging and developed markets with an extensive global footprint and proven expertise in making successful executive placements to ensure that our clients grow and expand into new markets while simultaneously remaining competitive.

Our novel ‘Best Team Forward’ approach ensures that our service goes beyond standard solutions for executive appointments. Instead, we strive to solve complex senior recruitment needs for our clients, from top-level management and C-Suite level placements to complex board governance issues, and to become their trusted advisors. We are devoted to building and sustaining authentic long-term relationships with our clients and candidates, staying focused and engaged on providing precise support and well-rounded advice to secure the absolute best leadership teams.

GSC: As the Client Partner, Supply Chain & Logistics, what specifically does your work entail?

BC: Ultimately, I support companies who are hiring senior leadership roles in the global Supply Chain and Logistics sector, although it’s probably more accurate to say I am in the knowledge and relationships business. It’s my job to constantly engage with people in the market to stay abreast of the trends, challenges and opportunities across the global supply chain whilst keeping a close eye on the top performing leaders in the sector and building relationships with them. My daily goal is to constantly expand my knowledge of the market by meeting and speaking to people.

When clients engage me to conduct an executive search, they are benefiting from my knowledge and my ability to open discussions with key people in the market, including people who don’t have a public profile online, or who are not even considering a change of jobs right now. My ability to successfully complete each search is a by-product of my involvement in the sector every day. Whenever I interact with people, it’s a discussion based on trust and deep insight and knowledge of the people, the companies and the sector I specialise in.

GSC: How significant is the Supply Chain and Logistics practice in this region for Pedersen & Partners?

BC: It is of major significance. Keep in mind that Supply Chain and Logistics can be seen as a functional specialisation, but it’s also a sector which spans every practice group within the firm across the globe. Add to that a challenging global economy which is undergoing rapid and often unpredictable changes, as well as some unique regional challenges for the end users and supply chain solutions providers, and it becomes evident – a well-managed or poorly-managed supply chain can have a huge impact on a business, whether positive or negative.

Pedersen & Partners has been partnering with clients in this region since before 2008, when they launched the regional office in Dubai, and most of those clients are focused on improving the efficiency of their supply chains, which can only be achieved by having the best people onboard to lead the way.

GSC: How has the rise of online social networking platforms impacted the recruitment business?

BC: Executive Search relies on a deep knowledge of the candidate pool, of the sectors in focus, and on direct access to senior decision makers and leaders. The social networking platforms are helpful in the sense that they provide data (the Who’s Who), but that data is often incomplete. Above all, access to data does not replace a professional network and established relationships.

GSC: What professional skills, traits and attributes are most sought after by employers in the Supply Chain and Logistics sectors?

BC: There is a new wave of Supply Chain leaders coming through the ranks who are focused on adding digital transformation skills and experience to their traditional Supply Chain competences. Most of my Supply Chain contacts have embarked on some form of education or training to raise their game in the area of digital transformation.

Most organisations are working on digitising processes, or developing omni-channel go-to market strategies, and because of this it’s imperative for Supply Chain leaders to fully understand and be able to implement digital strategies, mapping and matching the physical Supply Chain processes to the digital side. Next to this, and arguably more important, is the ability to adapt to change, and be flexible and open to ideas and new working practices. These days, people need to be constantly ready to reinvent themselves as job roles are evolving.

GSC: How competitive is your business?

BC: Even though deep expertise in emerging markets has been the cornerstone of Pedersen & Partners’ global operations since its early days, our rapid growth has enabled us to put together a team that excels at combining the best knowledge hubs across the firm and expanding our specialisation to developed markets and various geographies. The engagement with the client can originate anywhere in the world, and can be transferred to anywhere else in the world, bypassing borders but maintaining the same level of competence and support that our clients have come to expect from Pedersen & Partners.

This can be secured due to our unified business approach, and our complete and open flexibility when partnering with a client. In a highly fluid search environment, and with executive functions constantly evolving to encompass increasingly digitised responsibilities, “competitive” means full and relentless dedication to aligning the client’s strategy, ownership structure, growth vision, and culture with the absolutely best-suited leadership team that preserves its business qualities, but also has the humanity, authenticity, empathy, and openness required to succeed. We always take into consideration current global trends, such as digital transformation, cyber security and risk management, regulation and compliance, diversity and transparency, reputation and integrity, independence and dedication, and shareholder empowerment when we commit to a client partnership.

GSC: What opportunities and challenges confront you going forward?

BC: As with all the other professional advisory industries, Executive Search has rapidly evolved and is incorporating new trends into the operations, from technology upsurge with algorithm-assisted selection of candidates to detailed assessment and prognostics of executive potential once brought on board. Although there is the sense that recruiters will have to adapt to these challenges themselves in their efforts to advise clients and candidates on the best way forward for businesses, from start-ups to MNCs, the fundamental basis of all partnerships between clients and search experts – building solid, trust-based relationships – will remain paramount.

GSC: Which are the top three most promising countries in the region for recruitment for the short and /or long term?

BC: In the MENA region, the top three are certainly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. We also see strong growth potential in Iraq, given the need to further develop local infrastructure and the Iraqi consumer market itself.

GSC: What are the expansion plans for Pedersen & Partners in the region?

BC: Dubai is ideally located as a hub for the MENA region, and we already have presence in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the other two largest markets. Rather than opening new regional offices, we intend to grow our MENA presence in the form of a larger team, with more consultants focusing on additional sectors and functional areas.

GSC: Describe your relationship with your clients?

BC: We work alongside our clients as advisors and partners, which in my opinion is the only way to get the best possible outcomes. We need to work collaboratively leveraging our strengths–the strengths of both their organisation and of Pedersen & Partners.

An excellent example of this is when we can open up discussions with key senior executives who weren’t previously considering a move; when the organisation we are representing has a strong reputation as an employer of choice, it helps to move the discussion forward.

Another great example is that for the partnership to work well, it is imperative that the end-employer can manage an efficient and timely internal recruitment process. It is pointless for us to attract the right people and gain their interest, if they later withdraw from the process themselves because the employer was disorganised and gave a bad first impression.

The good news is that we are well-equipped to help our clients to position themselves better. We can employ our deep industry knowledge and experience, and share best practice advice when it comes to attracting and retaining high-performance business leaders. Best Team Forward’ approach ensures that we can convene the best power team every time, engaging colleagues from offices across the globe to tackle each client’s demands.

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