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Digital technology drives innovation in China’s executive search market

Digital technology drives innovation in China’s executive search market

China’s macroeconomy is at a turning point. For decades now, the nation has heavily relied on its manufacturing and production market, but in more recent years, China has earned a name for itself as the third largest IT hub in the world, and is playing a pivotal role in the digital, technology and e-commerce space. 

With great change on the horizon, we spoke with the Managing Director of Morgan Philips Group in  Mainland China & Hong Kong, David Ng, to hear how organisations are adapting to digital innovation, and to get his thoughts on what this means for the executive search market.

Finding the right fit is now a necessity

As the economy shows signs of instability, job security has become a topic that’s playing on the minds of many executives, and a large number of them are reluctant to change jobs as a result.

This feeling of uncertainty is reciprocated by many employers, says David, who manages the highly successful executive search business from their Shanghai office.

“In our current economy, making a poor hiring decision isn’t a risk organisations are prepared to take, especially at a senior level. To ensure they place the right person in the role, many organisations are tightening the bolts in their hiring process,” he says. 

To identify the right talent, you need a consultant who thoroughly understands your business needs, as well as your cultural fit, David points out. 

“A job description can only ever take you so far. In today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive business environment, you need to partner with an executive search firm that not only recognises your organisational context, but also has the ability to comprehend and measure a candidate’s potential in the role, and how they react to uncertainty and change.”

An effective executive search partner will also understand, and advocate for, the talent you need going forward, says David, which doesn’t always align with the type of talent you currently have.

“Our clients might define the type of person they want, but that’s not necessarily the type of person that will take their organisation to the next level – that’s when they need us to push back and tell them what they will need in the future.”

The new hybrid leader: traditional leadership traits and modern digital expertise

The type of leaders organisations need has evolved significantly over the last five to 10 years. There’s a strong demand for leaders with the essential, age-old qualities, such as the ability to inspire and communicate clearly, as well as being products of today’s modern, digital age, such as digital transformation, digital training and sales experience, David highlights.

“Traditionally speaking, privately-owned businesses tend to pass the reigns down to the next generation in the family to run things, but we’re now seeing many of these organisations bringing in external talent, especially those come from tech savvy backgrounds.”

“Organisations need leaders with the courage to take calculated risks, and have the broad knowledge and technical experience to make these risks well-informed,” he says. 

“Armed with a clear vision and strong sense of direction, these leaders actively encourage new ideas, are experienced negotiators, and have the resilience to know that if they fail, they can quickly pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and go on to lead their team to success.”

Transparency comes out on top in the digital age

In our digital age, candidates have access to a wealth of information about your organisation at their fingertips. Organisations that take a transparent approach to the hiring process open up the door to greater communication with senior-level candidates, says David.

“Thanks to modern technology, the hiring process has also become increasingly transparent - there’s a real opportunity for search firms to benefit both employers and employees by offering a completely transparent service, too.”

“We need to be the eyes and ears in the marketplace by organising and analysing information, and helping clients and candidates to make well-informed decisions.”
New technology has also had a major impact on how we identify and attract talent, highlights David.

“We’ve incorporated a wide range of innovative screening, assessment and talent-mapping methods into the search and selection process, but we’ve also experienced huge success by utilising existing platforms like social networking sites. Industry- or function-specific groups have popped up on these sites as a way of sharing referrals across the market.”

For more insights and trends taking place in China’s executive search market, or to find out more about our innovative talent solutions, please get in touch with David Ng on

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