Russell Reynolds Associates: Why Having a Mindset Like This Can Land You a Hot Job Right Now

This was originally published on LinkedIn and is written by Clarke Murphy, CEO of Russell Reynolds Associates

As the CEO of an executive search firm, probably the question I get asked most often is, “What are the hot jobs right now?” When I answer off the cuff, I usually refer to some especially interesting recent searches. There is always a new and intriguing job title!

But when I sat down to think about it for this blog, I came up with two emerging categories of roles that I find truly fascinating — one that is developing quickly (a “fast burn,” if you will) and one that is developing at a steady but far less rapid rate (a “slow burn”). Individually, both categories are interesting, but, together, they show how the workplace is changing in very fundamental ways.

The “fast burn”: Digital 2.0

If Digital 1.0 was about hiring folks who could initiate digital capabilities, Digital 2.0 is about making sure digital is integrated into every facet of organizational life.

Within traditional industries, this is producing immediate opportunities for digital-savvy workers within virtually every discipline—from supply chain to corporate finance to customer service, to name a few examples. Similarly, within pure-play digital companies, greater organizational maturity means that the aforementioned disciplines have to get stronger and be more robust; thus the same mixture of digital and domain expertise is needed for those organizations as well.

Digital 2.0 also has spawned a couple of ripple effects that are creating additional categories of opportunities.

Renewed focus on growth

The sheer scale available through digital efforts has generated a greater focus on growth. It is no accident that we are seeing the rise of the chief growth officer at this particular moment in time. You may not think of the chief growth officer—who is tasked with roles such as brand building and alignment of conflicting internal agendas—as a Digital 2.0 executive, but the reality is that this role would likely not exist had the digital transformation not happened.

Effect of data

The rise of digital has meant that many companies are now in possession of tremendous quantities of proprietary data. What was originally viewed as a positive has become a meaningful challenge for many companies — who now define success as finding the subset of their voluminous data that can actually be acted upon to create business results.

This does not mean they should merely hire more data scientists, but, in fact, this creates opportunities for marketers who might develop added revenue streams or even business models based on what is learned from the data; operations experts who can streamline systems based on new data inputs; and human resources (HR) professionals who can mine employee engagement data effectively to produce better employee retention and satisfaction.

And remember—the advent of Digital 2.0 does not mean that every company is fully engaged with Digital 1.0. As many companies continue to hire a “productive disruptor” chief digital officer, the landscape for digital roles grows broader and more diverse by the day.

The “slow burn”: culture leaders

One feature of people I speak with from the smartest organizations is their passion about culture. In recent years, a small but growing group has begun to “put their money where their mouth is” and invest in executives whose mandate centers on shaping culture. Titles such as chief culture officer and senior vice president of people and culture are slowly becoming more commonplace on business cards and LinkedIn.

McKinsey & Company separates culture leaders into two groups—those who operate within HR and those who report directly to the CEO. In our experience, each group has a unique profile.

Culture leaders within HR

Culture leaders within HR are charged with positioning culture in the context of the broader human capital agenda of an organization. They work across areas such as employee engagement, performance management and total rewards to ensure that the “right” cultural messages are deployed across each piece of the human resources platform.

The skills required for such a role are both strategic and highly practical. Culture leaders within HR must be good at translating a single message to a wide variety of media—and must be truly thoughtful in understanding all the different ways culture is transmitted within an organization.

Culture leaders who report to the CEO

Culture leaders who report to the CEO have a somewhat different mandate—generally to either defend a strong culture during a period of rapid growth or to “fix” emerging culture problems. They generally serve as a public face of the firm’s culture, both internally and externally.

These roles require the ability to play to a large room (metaphorically speaking) while, at the same time, serving as the trusted advisor to the CEO on all things culture related. Like culture leaders who reside in HR, they are “people people,” but their efforts are contextualized within an even broader understanding of business strategy.

Digital 2.0 + culture leaders—what does it all mean?

Unsurprisingly, the skills required for these roles are as varied as the roles themselves. But when we look at these two categories of new roles together, an interesting picture of today’s organizations emerges.

In both cases, roles are springing up to help organizations both cohere and change at the same time. Integration and transformation have to occur not just simultaneously but synergistically.

This is a tall order.

So ultimately, when I think about the people these new roles will require, it is not a set of skills that I picture—but a mindset.

People are needed who are comfortable with uncertainty—and thrive there. They must be immersive in subject matter but willing to turn on a dime and learn new skills. They must be chameleons with a rock solid core.

Do you fit that profile?

Thought leadership category