Why Executive Search Firms Must Innovate to Remain Relevant, with Mike Brennan, Ep #29

In these challenging times, staying the same just won’t cut it. Rather than just battening down the hatches and weathering the storm, what strategic changes can you implement now so you emerge in a position of strength? My very special guest, Mike Brennan shares his thoughts on why redesigning your service offerings is key to success in this challenging environment. Learn how Mike drives innovation to become relevant as a partner to his clients.

Mike joined Norman Broadbent Group Plc as a ‘turnaround CEO’ in 2016. With his team, Mike has repositioned the Group as a leading Professional Services firm focussing on Talent Acquisition & Advisory Services. In 2018, the business posted its best annual revenues in over a decade, and in 2019 returned to profit.

How do you get through these challenging times and finish in a position of strength rather than just weather the difficulties?  @MJCBrennan of @NormanBroadbent shares his best practices in this episode of #TheResilientRecruiter! #recruitment… Click To Tweet

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [4:53] Why the executive search market needs to up its game.
  • [9:35] How innovation helps Norman Broadbent achieve a 95% closure rate.
  • [13:00] What is the main challenge with traditional executive search firms?
  • [14:50] What can you do to be relevant as partners to your clients?
  • [21:11] Three best practices to get you through these difficult times and be in a position of strength 
  • [38:24] Mike shares pivotal moments in his entrepreneurial journey
  • [44:03] What significant values contribute to Norman Broadbent’s success?
  • [47:45] Hear Mike’s answer to this question: “If you could speak to your younger self, what advice would you give to that young entrepreneur?”

Innovation and Why the Executive Search Needs to Up its Game

According to Mike, there hasn’t really been anything innovative happening in the executive search market since 1965. He is both a fan and critic of search, and he believes that it has not evolved or developed as much as it should have done. This is how Mike puts it: “I think traditional search has become very transactional.” He added, “There is a frightening statistic, that 37% of all executive search assignments fail in the UK. So if you think about the market in the UK is worth about £1.5 Billion a year, that’s half a billion in wasted spend every year. That’s indefensible. At Norman Broadbent, we’ve got 95% closure rates. We work hard to see how we can mitigate all the risks in the search process. And how can we make sure that there’s a successful outcome.”

Mike is a strong believer in innovation and being relevant as partners to clients. Listen to his best practices especially in these difficult times when recruitment businesses are hurting. 

Living in a “Darwinian Moment” – Covid’s Impact on the Recruitment Industry

Mike and I discussed the impact of the coronavirus to major businesses and specifically to the recruitment industry. While there are struggles, successful and resilient businesses are usually agile and innovative. We see businesses completely revolutionizing themselves at warp speed. 

As shared by one online business, “We’ve evolved more in the last three months than we thought we would within the next three years.” Mike said, “These are truly unparalleled times. I think this is a Darwinian moment for our industry. And we need to stay focused as a business, as an industry, and help our clients through these very difficult times.” Hear how being agile, promoting change and transformation while helping out clients can be significant factors in weathering these challenging moments in our economy.

We are now living in a “Darwinian Moment”. Hear covid19’s impact on the recruitment industry as @MJCBrennan of @NormanBroadbent shares his thoughts in this episode of #TheResilientRecruiter! #recruitment #recruiter #training #coaching Click To Tweet

Mike Brennan Bio and Contact Info

Having spent most of his career in the global Professional Services markets, Mike has lived and built businesses in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. He also established/managed operations in New York, Dubai, and Singapore. 

Starting his first business aged 27 with investor backing from Alexander Mann Group, Mike was one of four founding Equity Partners involved in its sale to PE firm Advent International. He subsequently started an award-winning sister business in HK before returning to London as Global CEO of Alexander Mann’s Executive Search arm. Having successfully turned around the business, he led its sale on behalf of Advent/Alexander Mann. 

Mike joined Norman Broadbent Group Plc as a ‘turnaround CEO’ in 2016. With his team, Mike has repositioned the Group as a leading Professional Services firm focussing on Talent Acquisition & Advisory Services. These include Board & Leadership Search, Senior Interim Management, Research & Insight, Solutions, and Leadership Assessment. In 2018, the business posted its best annual revenues in over a decade, and in 2019 returned to profit. 

In 2019, Mike was recognized by ‘CEO Today’ as one of Europe’s top CEOs. In 2019 he was also invited to join the United Nation’s UK Judging Panel which recognizes those in business who have promoted the case for diversity.

In 2020, Mike was not only invited on to a Bank of England panel but also asked to join The Future Economy Surrey Commission.

People and Resources Mentioned

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2 thoughts on “Why Executive Search Firms Must Innovate to Remain Relevant, with Mike Brennan, Ep #29”

  1. Great podcast Mark; thank you. Love what he said about giving your employees permission to switch off. I think that’s a concept where Europe/UK are way ahead of the US. Not something that most US employers would relate to but IMO only benefits the employer. Hoping the US steps up soon;)

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