Managing Partner at Odgers Berndtson Luxembourg
AMCHAM: Please introduce yourself to our audience so they better understand who you are and what Odgers Berndtson does.
I am the Managing Partner at Odgers Berndtson in Luxembourg. Odgers Berndtson is an international executive search and leadership advisory firm operating in over 67 offices across EMEA, North and South America and Asia Pacific. Our firm offers a wide range of role and sector expertise to find and develop senior executives and non-executive for public and privately held businesses and organizations.
Odgers Berndtson Luxembourg specializes in retained recruitment and advisory services for Executives, Experts, and Board Members, serving both local and international clients across the finance, industry, public, and technology sectors.
I joined Odgers Berndtson as the Managing Parter for the Luxembourg office in March 2018.
Before starting the journey with OB, I spent my entire career as an executive search and advisory consultant and partner, with local and global executive search players in Luxembourg, and in Brussels. I had the opportunity to work within Deloitte’s Human Capital department in Luxembourg, where my role involved assisting Deloitte’s clients with their recruitment, talent, and performance management needs. Additionally, I provided guidance to local clients on strategies for creating value through independent recruitment processes. I also worked in domains such as HR Transformation, Leadership Communications and HR Intelligence systems.
After graduating from the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan (Poland), I did my MBA with Akademia Ekonomiczna in Poznan as well, together with Institute of Management in Rennes (France). Since 2004, I have not stopped learning and joining different leadership programs with INSEAD, Harvard and MIT. I also accomplished Aspiring Directors Program with INSEAD, providing me with excellent insight in good governance requirements and best practices. I am currently doing my post-graduate studies in the governance field as well at Kozminski University in Warsaw which is the #1 ranked business school in Eastern Europe. Continuous education remains my motto, and the way I view responsible leaders of tomorrow.
Learning and development are highly valued at Odgers Berndtson in Luxembourg, and worldwide. As a group, we have access to cutting-edge technologies, trends, and best practices in the field of leadership. We strive to be inclusive leaders who make decisions after considering diverse viewpoints. DE&I is our DNA, and we think that it is our responsibility, as a global executive search and advisory player, to raise our voice for more diverse and equal societies of tomorrow. That’s why our recruitment and advisory processes are unbiased and tend to focus on systemic approaches and respect for candidates and organizations. I also place great importance on empowerment, a goal that can only be achieved when organizations create and communicate a strategy that includes a unifying mission and an inspiring vision. We have been doing so at Odgers for 50 years. Today, our firm is actively shifting from a traditional executive search firm to adopting a trusted advisor approach. This involves providing comprehensive support throughout the entire transformation journey for both our clients and candidates. We are implementing this strategy by welcoming on board additional leadership partners in January.
Can you explain in more detail how you help your clients and candidates?
We take a personalized and consultative approach, focusing on understanding our clients’ and candidates’ unique needs and goals. Whether it’s finding the right talent for an organization or offering advisory services, we are committed to delivering exceptional service and results. We believe in maintaining long-term relationships with clients as a trusted advisor.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?
In Luxembourg, we act as a global firm with strong local roots and presence, which differentiates us fundamentally from other executive search and recruitment firms.
Which trends do you see in this sector?
As we approach 2024, the landscape of Executive Search is undergoing rapid evolution. As a firm specializing in Executive headhunting and C-level recruitment, we are constantly seeking innovative approaches to attract and retain top talent for our clients in this transformative environment. The shifting dynamics are evident across the board.
Crucial elements include a strong focus on Inclusion and Diversity, the ability to swiftly adapt and embrace new work methodologies, and a deliberate commitment to nurturing the next generation of leaders. Executive Search firms are making substantial investments to transition from traditional search and selection models to leadership advisory-based approaches. This strategic shift positions us as trusted advisors at the highest levels of organizations, moving beyond our previous role as “just” service providers.
Continuous innovation and substantial investments in data collection, analysis, and interpretation are of great importance. These efforts enable us to identify trends, make predictions, and measure the success of our clients’ leadership initiatives effectively. Moreover, the landscape of the skills of tomorrow is rapidly changing. According to the latest PWC report, 25% of current jobs are anticipated to vanish by 2023. We are constantly educating ourselves to remain up to date, to remain a trusted and forward-thinking adviser to our clients and candidates in this ever-evolving professional landscape.
Furthermore, as the global population continues to age, the importance of robust and data-driven succession planning and evaluation cannot be overstated. These aspects have become integral to our business, elevating Executive search firms to an even more significant role as counselors. We are well-prepared and equipped to help pave the way for a sustainable future for our clients’ organizations and leaders.
How would you describe the unique challenges and opportunities for leadership in Luxembourg’s business environment?
Many financial and non-financial institutions in Luxembourg are facing challenges in both attracting and retaining top talent. They have introduced measures like accelerated promotions to foster employee loyalty, and many offer competitive compensation packages. However, based on our daily discussions with CEOs across various sectors, it’s evident that Luxembourg remains highly competitive in terms of remuneration for individuals with 1-5 years of experience but is less competitive for senior profiles.
As the financial sector now competes not only within its industry but also against businesses from various sectors and geographic/global areas, all vying for the best people with cross-industry skills, Luxembourg needs to improve its executive remuneration practices to stay competitive. It’s important to note that factors like ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in remuneration still represent a relatively small part of the overall value proposition.
Research indicates that 80% of millennials prioritize holistic compensation and benefits, including flexibility. Furthermore, 74% desire support from colleagues and supervisors in embracing flexible work arrangements without stigma, and 86% advocate for paid parental leave for both women and men. Ensuring equal opportunities for all is becoming a reality, and Luxembourg needs to take these factors into consideration.
As young professionals increasingly gravitate towards tech firms and innovative startups, one of the most significant challenges facing the finance sector today, both in Luxembourg and globally, is the ability to attract and retain talent. Many financial institutions have underestimated the magnitude of their own digital transformations. Consequently, there is a growing need to attract employees who possess the skills required to effectively harness new technologies and digital services as they evolve. Additionally, there’s a pressing requirement for an agile and adaptable workforce capable of navigating the ensuing changes.
However, with the emergence of niche FinTech players, which are more adept at adapting to the changing market, traditional financial service providers in Luxembourg are struggling to stand out.
In our opinion, traditional financial services providers move too slowly, lacking the necessary momentum. According to a study conducted by Capgemini at the end of 2021, it was revealed that 62% of senior leaders in the banking industry believed that the digital talent gap had been expanding over the past couple of years, surpassing similar concerns in other industries such as retail, insurance, and automotive. This underscores significant challenges and opportunities for Luxembourg, particularly in the realm of leadership.
The financial industry grapples with a leadership issue marked by a lack of visionary thinking, and unsustainable business models. Yet, a select few leaders have the courage to challenge the very essence of their business and, in doing so, become genuine role models in our country.
To enhance the situation and promote greater accountability, we firmly believe that Luxembourg must adopt the following strategies:
Start by initiating independent, data-driven evaluation procedures, beginning at the highest organizational levels.
Next, introduce robust and impartial selection processes that prioritize candidates’ ability to perform the job, emphasizing transferable skills and encouraging a reevaluation of the concept of talent.
Third, establish comprehensive succession plans that embrace diversity of skills and promote inclusivity across all organizational levels.
Lastly, there is also a strong need for a powerful employer value proposition (EVP) to attract and retain the best people.
What are the key leadership qualities that you believe are essential for success in the Luxembourg market?
The leadership of tomorrow demands courage, agility, a high degree of innovation, self-awareness, empathy, robust collaboration, a systemic approach, and, most importantly, unwavering accountability. Transformation and change must be meticulously measured and monitored. What we require are visionary leaders and role models, regardless of gender. Competent, courageous, and responsible leaders of tomorrow will pave the way for enduring success in our nation.
What are the company’s values that drive your decision making?
We hire and inspire leaders of tomorrow, striving to build enduring and forward-looking partnerships with our clients and candidates. Our foundation is based on open communication, mutual respect, teamwork, and trust. There is an old saying “We always meet twice in life, and in Luxembourg, that often happens with much more frequency.