Category: Business News

Thought Diversity

Thought Diversity and Inclusion– An important Resource for Business Growth

Thought Diversity and Inclusion

Working with a team of like-minded people may seem like the best thing that an organisation can aspire to achieve. The absence of friction, the ability for all team members to work in tandem, to understand and accept the norm, go with the flow, and generally not rock the boat ensuring smooth sailing.

The above scenario on the surface would be the ideal work environment. However, research has shown that organisations like this tend to be outperformed by those that have teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Research has time and again shown that organisations with diverse teams tend to outperform homogeneous teams. This is a no brainer in today’s business world.  Homogeneous teams oftentimes tend to have a limited perspective on issues due to the fact that they mostly share similar identities and experiences. It is vital that companies enrich their employee pool with representatives of different genders, races, and nationalities, experiences, and background, in order to enhance joint intellectual potential. This will make for a knowledge-based organisation and ensure that decision making is based on facts resulting from critical analysis.  Diverse teams open up the opportunity to challenge basic assumption, encourage joint up thinking and reduces bias within the team.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace, in a global economy makes ‘business sense’. In a world where businesses are operating across borders, importing and exporting goods and services to places that most of their employees have never and may never visit, it is imperative that cultural diversity is a policy issue. Consideration must be given to gender, religion, sexual orientation, race and disability among others.

Boards and managements must be open to actively pursuing a diversity and inclusion agenda. Considering the simple fact that target markets and consumers are diverse, it is imperative that their experiences be represented at the decision-making table. There is no understanding your buyers, suppliers or end-users if you have not walked in their shoes!

7,615 firms participated in the London Annual Business Survey. This was conducted with the UK capital’s executives that asks a number of questions about their companies’ performance. Results revealed that businesses run by culturally diverse leadership teams were more likely to develop new products than those with homogenous leadership. Read more here: 

Oftentimes, when we discuss diversity, the tendency is to focus on the benefits of having representation from different races, gender, religion and communities in our teams. This is in fact a vital foundation for inclusion. However, diversity goes beyond that; it is more about the “values, beliefs and thinking”. Our values and beliefs are primarily what differentiates us. They are based on our inherent make up, our environment and experiences. A simplistic view of diversity fails to recognise the fact that people belong to and identify with multiple groups. For instance, sexual orientation cuts across all groups of diversity; gender, race, ethnicity, age, and personality. How these multiple identities interact, and the importance each plays in an individual’s life, is important to their thought process. In today’s global economy, goods and services are becoming predominantly available to markets around the world, hence the need to take into consideration the values, beliefs and thought process of target markets.

Diversity as a core resource

To ensure competitive advantage, diversity of thought must be considered a core resource.

In recruiting leadership roles, it is vital that Hiring Managers are not just ticking boxes. It is imperative to explore the benefits of a diverse workforce. Diversity and inclusion should be measured against an analysis of the organisation’s strategy, current team composition, markets spread and projections and current market position in comparison to top competitors; comparing and measuring their diversity strategy against performance.

Hiring Managers must be able to argue the case for diversity of thought. They must not be closed- minded due to a fear of changing the status quo. To persuade management to be open to this agenda, facts and figures must be presented, benefits to the bottom line must be based on facts, and projections must show a positive outcome for the organisation. Highlighting to management the benefits of a properly implemented diversity and inclusion agenda will make for creativity and innovation, ensuring long term growth.

Stephanie Ryan, Consultant in the Private Sector Division at InterSearch Ireland:

“It is important that management within companies vigorously develop and implement diversity policies and strategies that go beyond documentation and filling. Given the current socio-political and economic environment, companies in Ireland are increasingly looking to engage new partners and suppliers as well as targeting new markets; largely due to the uncertainty around Brexit. To be successful in this agenda, they must be open to diversity, not only as we know it but more so in thought diversity. This is a sure way of encouraging creativity and innovation ensuring that they avail of the vast opportunities that abound in the global economy.”

Small and medium enterprises need to start vigorously exploring the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. It ensures that they create opportunities to differentiate themselves, create new and innovative products and services, and expand into new markets.

In a nutshell, diversity of thoughts and inclusions creates opportunity for business growth. Recognising that a diverse workplace includes people with different experiences at different levels, as well as different personalities, builds creativity and presents a range of perspectives that may be absent in a homogeneous workplace.

Finally, it is important that developing a diversity and inclusion policy is not the end game. This is a process that must be continuously monitored, reviewed and evaluated. It is vital that HR carry out regular analysis of the impact of their inclusive workforce. This will ensure that gaps and opportunities are identified and impacts are measurable.

Written by Clementina Mustapha

Executive Search Specialist, InterSearch Ireland

Clementina Mustapha

Sustainability – An opportunity for career development

Sustainability is a term that has increasingly become embedded in all facets of our lives. From the home-place to schools, SMEs to multinational organisation and most significantly it is beginning to influence government policies in the areas of transportation, housing and the environment.

For discerning minds, it is glaring that climate change is real and the impact on the planet is one that we live with on a daily basis directly or indirectly. All you need do is listen to the news and read about extreme conditions close to home and in other parts of the world to know the growing concerns. The effect of climate change on flora and fauna, the artic and sea level has significant ramifications for the human species.

The impact of these effects is gaining more and more recognition and driving the need for actions by not just policymakers but most importantly by consumers. Interestingly, selling “sustainability” to business leaders can be a daunting task for those charged with this responsibility. However, we know that business is largely about the bottom line; margins; PROFITS – to get management buy-in. Simply advancing the need for sustainability oftentimes will not cut it with boards by expounding on the need for environmentally friendly sourcing, processes and actions with the aim of saving the planet. The carrot is to be able to present a strategy that is cost-effective, improves and guarantees efficiency, creates a competitive advantage and elevates organisational reputation.

It is important for those who aspire to a career in sustainability to understand that scientific careers are hugely important part of the industry, other options also abound. It is our experience that a lot of the careers opportunities in Sustainability are mostly geared towards helping organisations and companies run more efficiently as indicated above.

To excel in this area, creativity and innovation are important. You must be able to assess and analyse complex and interconnected challenges and scenarios. Significantly, you must be able to understand the implications of a variety of actions and create effective solutions that are aligned to company objectives and ensuring the achievement of financial success.

Understanding the industry in which you work or aspire to work in is important. It is all well and good working to save the planet, however, being out of touch with the corporate agenda and lacking in understanding of the intricacies of the business is not going to do you any favours. You must be able to show an understanding of the balance sheet by developing and implementing strategies that enable the integration of sustainable practices with all business functions to ensure Financial and Business Sustainability.

If you are exploring career opportunities in sustainability, look around you, there is a need for specialists and experts in this area. At the moment, organisations are looking for people with skill sets that are not only focused on environmental protection and health and safety. You need to diversify and acquire relevant skills and experience in your chosen industry, stakeholder management, financial statements, and gain other expertise that will place you in a good stead with prospective employers. Some sectors to explore include; the Life science industry, regulated and general manufacturing, public sector, digital media, broadcasting companies, academia, SMEs, not for profit organisations and the list goes on.

As in the application of technology in everyday life and businesses, sustainability is a phenomenon that is a true and present part of our lives. ICT has created a lot of career opportunities today with more to come that we have not yet heard of. Sustainability experts are in high demand and this is only going to increase. At the moment, demand does outweigh supply, so it is an area that is worth exploring.

Written by:

Clementina Mustapha, Executive Search Specialist, InterSearch Ireland

Clementina Mustapha



Mid-Year Career Assessment and Review

As we approach the mid-year mark, and you are either well settled in your current role, new to the role or considering a change in the short or long term, it is important to take some time and assess where you are in your career journey. I believe that before you set out on any career-related move, you must have clarity of your short-term and long-term career goals. Create a checklist of your objectives and achievable timelines and know the resources available to you to guarantee accomplishments (internal and external). Most significantly – be willing to push yourself and embrace change and the challenges that come with it.

Change is paramount:

In carrying out an assessment and review of your career, one of the key outcomes of your assessment MUST be the need for CHANGE! If you do not identify an area in your plan that requires transformation or change, then you might need to re-evaluate your goals or you might be one of life’s lucky few.

‘Change’, to some, equals risk. However, change does not have to be drastic. It does not have to turn your work life off-kilter and give you palpitations. It could be something such as setting out to get some training that will equip you for a desired career move, getting a new skill (career related or otherwise), moving closer to home in the long term, or adjusting your obligation to accommodate a healthy work-life balance.  The list of little and big changes is inexhaustive. So, in reviewing your career at this time of the year, look for that achievable change that will impact positively on your work-life balance.

Oftentimes, we forget that there is more to life than work. Take time to consider your mental and physical wellbeing. Take time to enjoy family and friends. Learn something new outside of work. I guess what I am saying is that changes do not always have to be geared towards getting the next promotion or the next role, important though that is. The bigger picture shows much more than that. There is a whole world out there that you need to fit in and find the space that gives you some joy and satisfaction.

Do not forget life outside work:

We often forget about small successes and accomplishments, especially in our personal life. It is easy to focus on the deal that fell through, the role that was lost, the account that was and is challenging to manage, the impossible and micromanaging boss (an aside, I think if you have one of these bosses, hey presto – this is a signal for a change). There are a host of work-related challenges and it is vital to know that work is rarely free of such challenges. Life challenges us all the time, how you come out at the end of it is what matters. Explore opportunities to fit work around your personal life – family, friends, sports, hobbies and other areas of interest to you. Give yourself the gift of a wholesome life. Sometime in the future you change jobs, you retire and colleagues move on, but all the others remain in your life. Review and assess where you are at with them and plan for your career with them in mind.

Review challenges and difficulties:

I am a keen believer in learning from experience, we see this at work all the time – what have we learnt from a difficult assignment, how do we ensure that we are better prepared to overcome past difficulties, what are the positive takeaways from the experience, what are the comparisons to other similar or relevant assignments. All these questions generate answers that prepare the organisation for the next project, they expose new knowledge and opportunities that may have remained untapped.

Likewise, in assessing your career, look for learning opportunities in challenging and difficult projects, they tend to help you discover areas that you may need to make some changes, acquire new knowledge and identify different ways to achieve your objectives.

Set yourself up for success:

Celebrating your successes, learning from experiences, identifying areas for change and transformation and working towards achieving a work-life balance are areas that can help you assess where you are at this time of the year and plan for the future. A word of caution – change is a constant, planning for the future is planning for success. However, plan to succeed, develop achievable goals and never underestimate the impact of out-of-work activities on your life and career.

In summary, there are so many pieces and articles that tell us how we can work to achieve our career goals. These are mostly focused on what you can do in the workplace to help you be a step above your peers, meet your target, climb up the career ladder at a steady pace and possibly find your niche in your chosen industry. As you review your goals, also make sure to review other aspects of your life as oftentimes, we tend to underestimate the input of family, friends, the environment and other activities on a successful and satisfying career.

Written by: Clementina Mustapha

Executive Search Specialist, InterSearch Ireland



Leadership Strategy Development – Part 3

Developing your Leadership Strategy

Oftentimes, aspiring leaders are said to be ambitious and driven – true! But more than anything I think leaders are simply able to identify opportunities, position themselves and play to their strengths.

Written by: Clementina Mustapha, Executive Search Specialist, InterSearch Ireland, 14th December 2018

“Your most important sale in life is to sell yourself to yourself.” – Maxwell Maltz

It is challenging to actively promote yourself because of the fear of being perceived as arrogant, but in an interconnected world, I do not think that you should be wary of doing it. If your self -sales pitch is backed by verifiable data; experience and achievements, why fear? You have earned the right to promote yourself. Most importantly, note that selling yourself is a necessary tool for career growth.

At C-suit level, it is not enough to assume landing the ideal leadership position is constitutive of your acquired experience and skills. Creating opportunities, networking and in some instance, interviews communicate information about you as a worker, in other words; representations of you as a product- not the product itself. So how you represent your experience, personality, and work ethic is really important, it is what gets you your executive role.

In developing a business plan, we carry out an extentive analysis – market research, product analysis, benchmarking, consumer/target analysis, and other relevant surveys. The outcome of these studies basically informs on the viability of a product or service through identification of target needs and wants, communicating of desirable outcomes and then developing a marketing strategy.

Similarily, it is important to carry out an analysis of your hard and soft skills, your track record, your achievements, and your capabilities going forward. Armed with this information, develop your unique selling points and start marketing yourself. As earlier mentioned, allowing yourself to be daunted by the fear of self-promotion as a vain and arrogant trait is self-defeating. Remember that no one can sell you as well as you can sell yourself – think of what a hiring manager’s thoughts are listening to your compelling sales pitch; “knows his/her stuff”, “confident”, “great representative for our brand”, “good communicator” ……

Oftentimes, your CV tells your prospective employer much of your hard skills but what you communicate when selling yourself are those skills that are not easily verifiable on paper- stakeholder management, change management, work ethic, communication skills, adaptability, confidence, problem solving and critical observation to mention but a few. It’s your responsibility to take any opportunity to make others sit up and notice your work and skill set. You are your own Director of Marketing.

Note that in the business of selling yourself, NEVER make the mistake of misrepresenting yourself. Credibility at executive level positions is key to your reputation!

From a careful analysis of your career progression, you will be amazed at your past achievements. Develop a value proposition based on your experience and skills and ask hard questions of yourself – What do you do best? Who can you best serve? Look at a SWOT analysis of yourself. What makes you different? Based on the outcome of this analysis, you can get a better sense of who you are, what you have to offer and who you can serve. Create a value proposition that is compelling and helps you stand out amongst your peers. It’s also important to back up your reputation with results from your past work and projects. If you can prove your abilities and not just talk about them, you will be much more effective at persuading people to take notice.

As we approach the new year and you look back at your career in the last year and the desired progression for the coming year and beyond, start by building a case study into any project that you have been involved in so as to leverage on them as part of your marketing pitch.

Finally, as you begin to identify opportunities, build and leverage on your networks and promote and sell yourself. It is important to note that one of the key stakeholders that you have in your network; to conscript into your marketing plan is the Executive Search Consultant. They are in the unique position of having first-hand experience with their client – your prospective employer, they have access to a wide network of professionals, industry knowledge and most importantly, they are willing to listen to you; and how you sell yourself to the head-hunter is key to how he/she sells you to the client.

At InterSearch Ireland and within the InterSearch Worldwide network, we work diligently to ensure that we attract the best talents for our clients anywhere in the world. We do this by going way beyond ticking job specification boxes. We pay attention to the mutually beneficial traits between candidates and clients to make for seamless fits.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Clementina’s article HERE.

Leadership Strategy Development – Part 2

Developing your Leadership Strategy

Oftentimes, aspiring leaders are said to be ambitious and driven – true! But more than anything I think leaders are simply able to identify opportunities, position themselves and play to their strengths.

Written by: Clementina Mustapha, Executive Search Researcher, InterSearch Ireland

In my previous article on Developing your Leadership Strategy, the ability to recognise and if necessary, create opportunities, was highlighted as one of the key objectives of aspiring leaders. With the goal of achieving leadership positions, individuals can have quite different approaches. Some let their actions speak for them, others push their actions to decision makers, while some explore many routes to leadership such as pursuing a multi-faceted approach; by making themselves significant subject experts in the industry, positioning themselves as the go-to person for insights and information.

Do you ever wonder how some names keep coming up at almost every professional seminar, workshop, lecture or event that you attend? Well, those individuals are strategic players in the art of positioning.

As earlier stated, aspiring leaders recognise that they are a unique brand that needs to be developed, positioned and promoted. This brings me to a skill that in my opinion is vital should you aspire to leadership positions – Networking.

“You’ve got to learn the footwork, the positioning, how to box out, how to pass, how to shoot your free throws. All these things are necessary, not to be the No. 1 player in the world, but maybe you can play against him.” – Oscar Robertson

In our daily interactions, we come across people who know someone in our network of contacts. It is important that we develop our network as a resource that can and will work for us. Sometimes, the thought of networking might seem daunting as it is assumed that we need to have a lot of people in our contact list – that was my initial thought! Alas, to my relief, numbers do not always equate to quality!

Strategically developing our network is made much easier when the groundwork of positioning oneself as a desirable brand is planned and executed. Targeting industry influencers may not be an easy feat and oftentimes we fail to consider other avenues to reach them. Great networkers not only have C-suite names in their contact list, but they are also adept at linking up with gatekeepers, headhunters and other not so obvious individuals that are vital sources of valuable information.

It is important to identify the purpose of your networking activities. If the aim is to manage current internal responsibilities, your network needs to be operational. You should identify your current needs, challenges, assigned departmental or organisational outcomes and develop a plan of action on how to use relevant people in your network to achieve desired outcomes.

How you position yourself in the network is key in this instance, this is where you implement your ability to create opportunities not only for yourself but also for the team, showcase your skills and knowledge and be instrumental in the creation of an efficient and functional team.

I believe that to use your network at an operational level, it is also significant that you build personal networking into your strategy. This way, you are able to improve your personal development and create a leadership style that will work for you.

Using a combination of operational and personal networks, aspiring leaders need to recognise that they have the recipe for strategic networking. This is the networking tool vital in the identification of new business or career directions, important stakeholders in the industry and an awareness of prevailing strategic thrust of competing players in the industry.

The goal here is to recognise where and how you fit and positioning yourself as the ideal person to help prospective employers achieve their strategic goals.

It is important to note that management positions are most times not actively advertised and those with the required skill sets may not be actively seeking new roles. Aspiring leaders should not close the doors to Executive Search Firms; that phone call might just be the opportunity to your next leadership role! Have relevant industry Head Hunters in your network, they are important sources of information on roles that may fit your profile. Liaising with Executive Search firms will give you an insight into current skill-set requirements in your industry which is an important intelligence that you need for planning your career progression.

Visibility to Executive recruiters is an important way to keep informed of relevant positions in your industry. However, note that building relationships with executive recruiters is a two-way street. If you are not accessible, you may be missing out on that ideal opportunity, as oftentimes the type of searches carried out by executive search firms are not usually advertised on conventional channels. C-Suite aspirants must ensure that they are visible to industry stakeholders and influencers in order to be considered for senior management positions.

As stated earlier, to make your network functional, ensure that you are involved in industry events either as a speaker or participant, have your publications on relevant professional media channels to position yourself as an industry/subject expert, and join relevant professional organisations. All of these will help to boost your networking capabilities and get you noticed by important stakeholders and most significantly by the Executive Search firms who have been retained by your desired employer to search and find you for your ideal position.

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