COVID Influence on Executive Recruiting by Anderson Willinger

This article was published in the E15 Premium magazine on 11.01.2021

In cooperation with the executive search company Anderson Willinger, we bring you a year-round overview of trends and the most interesting transfers in the top management market. These include the new head of CETIN or the financial director of Rohlí

When Jay Elliot, Apple’s Chief HR Officer, said that the policy of selecting employees is to hire people they like and then look for a job for them, he laughed at companies like Kodak, Nokia and many others with sophisticated competency models. Today, it is clear that Steve Jobs’ team is ahead of its time in this regard as well.

Although most strategists would look for the causes of Kodak and Nokia’s collapse in the advent of new technologies, a detailed management study by one of the world’s leading universities, Insead, led by Professor Quy Huy (abbreviated here), disagrees. One of the key reasons was the conservatism of managers, both in recruiting people and in creating teams. Simply put, from the ground up a new thing must form and invent a new team, not the one captive to the past.

The reason for the progress of Steve Jobs’ “foolishness” at the time was that he intuitively created teams whose knowledge transcended disciplines. Today, any company in the same field is not a competitor of any company – banks versus fintech companies will serve as an example for all of them.

The manager is also not competed with the same named position in the competition, but basically anyone whose thinking algorithm can be useful in a given situation and place. Covid accelerated this trend because it necessitated changes that would otherwise have taken years. And more and more companies are starting to copy Jobs’ Apple in this approach.

The idea that anyone can compete with us today and anywhere means a turning point in thinking about recruiting and developing people. What other major phenomena in the labour market have led companies to lead over the past year?


According to Anderson Willinger, executive search experts, it is a thing of the past that managerial changes between different disciplines can only be seen at levels B-3, B-2 and in expert roles (B – senior management, chairman and members; B-1 level of directors and managers reporting to senior management; B-2 – B-3 – second and third levels reporting to senior management, CXO – Chief X Officer – the company’s top management, such as CExecutiveO, CFinancialO, COperationsO – author’s note).

The motivation for shareholders and owners of companies to recruit CXOs from another field is primarily innovation and flexibility and the transfer of successful practices to places where they have not been before.

From our professional point of view, Anderson Willinger, executive search, recommend thinking about ecosystems when recruiting at this time, that is, in all fields that we will want or will be forced to enter or will be affected by our activities. An example is Amazon’s current entry into the sale of pharmaceuticals or telecommunications companies to payment systems or media.

Thinking about the size of the ecosystem also means building mutual partnerships that will lead to the current competitor being or can become our important partner and replace the former enemy, to which war company terminology is popular. Our employee is an equally important client and our important client can easily become an employee at the same time.

If you want to look for some order and system in a new arrangement, know that one rule applies – from now, everything is in motion. When recruiting or developing our people, we should build on human virtues as described in ancient philosophy and as they translate into our values, our style of thinking, our qualities, and therefore our daily behaviour.


In 2020, the same number of CEO changes took place in the Czech Republic as in the previous year. Compared to 2020 and 2018, external recruitment of CEOs increased from 37% to 49%. The main drivers are in the areas of IT, Wholesale and Retail. The big change is the increase in the number of expatriates, who make up a quarter of all new CEO positions in 2020.

Another turning point is the recruitment of CEOs with foreign experience, which accounts for half of all CEO changes. After many years of disadvantages, foreign experience is finally valued in gold. It now brings the much-needed flexibility, durability and adaptability. Managers who come from abroad tend to shift the status quo, what is or is not possible. They also automatically bring and build relationships and contacts outside the current Czech environment, which is essential for business.


In the second half of last year, the members of the supervisory boards changed more. According to survey of Anderson Willinger, executive search, this is mainly due to increased shareholder control or to strengthen the company’s reputation and influence. Market turbulence and growing risks are leading shareholders to put pressure on better and more active supervision of companies, which places increased demands on members of supervisory boards. It used to be a formal position, but a lot of noise is required today more knowledge, expertise and experience.


For many managers who did not want to stay at home and wait for a new role, last year allowed them to try working on a project, part-time, or even work pro bono. In other words, experiment.

It is quite clear that the future will bring more flexibility to work on time-limited projects or part-time. The role will be given a broader responsibility with greater demands on the ability to integrate new skills and knowledge very quickly.

An equally important element to think about is that this form of work can lead to the question of whether it does not mean going back several years. A manager suddenly does not have a secretary, specialist or subordinate manager. He has to do it all at once and alone. Returning to the “roots” is a very painful, but even more important way for many people to tame their ego.


According to Anderson Willinger, executive search experts, the trend in recent years, which has manifested itself sharply this year, is to reduce the number of B-1 and B-2 positions in companies and increase liability with greater day-to-day responsibility at the board level. It turns out that senior middle management is in some cases only a carrier of information and does not have sufficient benefits for the company. In the Czech market, the organizational structure is flattening, especially in the banking and IT sectors. The media star in this area is the company Y Soft.


In the Czech Republic, 19.2% of senior management were women last year. This is a minimal increase compared to the previous year. Women make up 8.6% of top CEOs or board members. Most women in senior management can be found in pharmacy. The strengthening of the role of women in the management of companies is probably the most talked about in the field of diversity.

But diversity is wider. A successful and unique example is Nestlé, which is one of the few in the world to have 14 members of its supervisory board. 12 of them with completely different business and sector experiences. This is also something that companies in the Czech Republic are thinking about more and more.

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