Creating Authenticity in a Client-Consultant Relationship

AESC Members work diligently to provide executive talent solutions for organizations across all industries and in all geographies—spanning 1,200+ offices in 70+ countries. Bringing a deep level of expertise to their clients, our Members have a unique vantage point as they help companies build effective organizational cultures and advise on leadership strategies impacting business leaders and the world. 

With our AESC Member Spotlights, we speak with members to get their take on the profession, industry and sector-specific trends, regional insights and more. 

Tell us about Morgan Young.

Morgan Young was established 11 years ago as a privately held international search firm. In this market, we saw, and still see, the need for an agile, high calibre firm capable of partnering specifically and deeply with clients around their unique needs. Acting as an independently owned company with a long-established team allows us to be flexible and responsive to client needs. We pride ourselves on offering authenticity to our clients and connecting to their needs. The firm’s owners deal directly with clients, are in the traffic, and execute the searches they have been trusted to complete.

Most of our clients are long-term relationships extending across multiple years. That healthy tenure empowers us to build a profound knowledge of their business and growth priorities. Having that depth of connection to the business allows us to handle the most senior, sensitive and transformational searches in our markets. We’re proud that our Partners are hands-on throughout the search process. They draw upon their personal connections, tenure in their markets and business acumen to hand select the best candidates for each role. This translates into stronger, faster, enduring results for our clients.

For the past 11 years, our firm is the advisor of choice for leading technology, financial services and professional services companies seeking guidance on their leadership needs. We’re market leaders in big data, risk management, asset and wealth management, advanced analytics, private equity, institutional and retail banking, cyber security, consulting and the management and leadership of professional services firms. And above all else, we’re easy to work with.

Your firm’s success is based on a formula of art and science. Can you elaborate on how this formula works for your clients and candidates?

Executive search is often described as a blend of art and science. Our approach to balancing the art and science is part of the secret sauce that makes us so successful at what we do.

Breaking it down a little, we consider the “art”as the work that encompasses our focus on relationship building, networking, gathering insights and our influence in our focus markets and key clients. The art is also our innate ability to read people, to understand their intrinsic motivational drivers, to explore candidate strengths and characteristics with a view to matching them to an organisational culture.

The “science” spans the platforms we use to research roles and source candidates and the tools we use to perform assessments. The science is anchored in a systematic, methodical approach, leadership assessment, psychometric testing and behavioural based interviewing, which we have refined through more than a decade of sourcing the most talented and senior executives around the globe.

AESC Members commit to our Code of Professional Practice. Why is this important for your clients across the ASEAN region?

In practice Morgan Young has always exceeded both industry norms and client expectations. As an AESC member it is inherent that member firms strive to be the most ethical, rigorous, and transparent firms in the profession. This is important because our clients depend upon a strong, mutual commitment as well as mutual trust, candour and responsiveness. They expect us to be open, informed and provide impartial and objective counsel. One cannot win client trust without demonstrating a deep understanding of their business and the wider market and community they operate within. Clients need to know that we manage every relationship with care and that we are acting for them in their interests. There is an ethical obligation to avoid conflicts of interest, extending again, more evidence that you are that client’s trusted advisor.

Through these actions, clients can have a degree of comfort in knowing their appointed firm acts in their interests and is a true partnership. Sensitive information is treated confidentially. The firm acts discretely and ensures that all data and information is secure and protected. Having the highest standards at every touch-point, for both clients and candidates, isn’t just important but it is expected. For our clients, it’s about trust, integrity and confidence.

AESC conducted a client survey with 850+ business leaders worldwide. Based on our findings, clients are looking to partner with executive search and leadership consulting firms for solutions beyond search. Can you share some examples of how Morgan Young’s service offerings have evolved to adapt to clients’ needs?

Culture shaping, working with diversity and succession planning are all trends we see every day and discuss with our client partners. Through our strategic partnerships, we offer an extended range of advisory services to improve the quality of selection and the ongoing success and well-being of the executives we identify on behalf of our clients.

We aim to identify the values, skills and qualities of each candidate to help understand how each executive will thrive in the cultures they join and positively influence the future. Our focus is on using these programs to help build, train and optimise high performance teams which influence how cultures evolve, particularly through high stress market transitions and company transformations. We proactively support cultural evolutions through our programs which extend services for leadership coaching, team development and psychometric assessments.

We’re passionate about the power of diversity and the strategic strength that can come from making decisions based on different perspectives around a meeting room. Our own team represents these values and we’re proud that we’re, sometimes uniquely, able to role model these to our clients.

Finally, our clients know how time consuming, expensive and sensitive succession planning can be. Unfortunately, many clients don’t consider succession planning until there’s a critical event which forces planning into action. This is more like reactionary crisis management than succession planning. It’s often stressful and time pressured which can drive quick reactions to ‘solve the problem’ thus potentially creating a longer-term pain.

Our deep relationships with our clients allow us to work proactively on succession planning to create a healthy balance across the entire organisation. As the businesses of our clients change, so do their hiring needs. We align to the entire organisation, top-to-bottom, to analyse where the strengths and gaps lie. We’re sensitive to the fact that moving an employee to a senior role can create a gap further along the value chain. We help our clients identify those gaps and (sometimes) weaknesses in certain parts of their teams. We have a range of programs to help groom candidates for their next role. We also work proactively with our clients to mitigate bias in hiring. It doesn’t help the strength of the team or strategic direction if leaders are hiring mirror images of themselves, particularly in times of change and transformation. We’re sensitive to the pressures of lost productivity, real or perceived, that arise when an executive starts a new role. We’ve developed onboarding programs to help maximise the impact new executives can have in their new roles as quickly as possible.