Disrupting Executive Search


Disruption – transformation – being facilitated by digital innovation.

A sector that I have been operating in for the last 35 years and which is long overdue for what we are now seeing from the less traditional practitioners.

Many of its practices are unsustainable.

One way in particular is the question of how search fees are calculated for many local and international practices, i.e. based on the remuneration offered/accepted by the successful candidate. Is this logical – I think not, for why oh why is the fee for hiring in at £200k usually twice as costly at hiring in at £100k?

So temptation here, for the less than scrupulous, to the short-listing of applicants with the highest monetary aspirations or even encouraging the favored candidate to make excessive demands. Hence inflating total fees billed to the client.

Ethics and transparency are clearly not best served with this structure.

It was therefore with huge relief that I recently ‘started a conversation ‘ with the founder of www.CEO-Worldwide.com

I learnt that since 2001 they have completed more than 1,000 international executive searches. And being good at ‘listening’ – to their clients – they have this year introduced a new DISRUPTIVE PRICING MODEL. In short they now offer regional low fixed fees paid 100% on success. So NO retainer, NO short-list fee and on a non-exclusivity (of instruction) basis. This means that they provide full contingency with NO payment from the client until the successful candidate has started their temporary or permanent role. All made possible by a business model fit for the global digital economy in which we are all now part.

This new DISRUPTIVE PRICING MODEL addresses the major question that I’ve often posed by clients: 

  • Why pay recruitment fees calculated as a percentage of the candidate salary?

Why indeed should clients be forced to accept the counter-productive “incentives” still in place today in the executive search industry?

The maxim of ‘you only get what you pay for’ might be uppermost in the mind of the hiring executive or committee convinced that the global search firms are in some way masters of the executive recruitment universe. Well in the past perhaps but that universe – which I now call a connected flat world – has changed and will leave behind those that don’t adapt and/or innovate. ‘Digital’ is truly a  game changing moment.

CEO-Worldwide is in the vanguard of that change and in addition links the worlds of interim management with executive search by their ability to act with the urgency that technology now so clearly allows.

Their 21st c business model enables them to offer up managers who are prepared for local or cross border interim projects that could turn into full-time positions in one of the 180 countries covered. This from a pool of over 16,100* senior executives worldwide, each with a proven entrepreneurial profile.

* Only 16,100 of the over 100,000 who have to date attempted the rigorous and track proven certification process have actually qualified.

Alongside this is an equally rigorous and innovative selection process prior to short-listing.

If this doesn’t make the proposition the default for those mission critical cross-border appointments then delivering a short-list in 7-10 working days and placement in an average three weeks – certainly does. Yes really – 7 to 10 days!

As the late Victor Kiam famously said of Remington Razor … “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company” so EP International has linked with this great team to provide access to the best cross-border talent at a competitive fixed cost and in a timely ‘no risk’ manner. There is no downside for either candidates or clients.

It’s time to shake up the old fashioned and costly cross borders head hunters market,” says founder Patrick Mataix, “We need to propose a ‘must have’ HR global partner for all businesses. Keeping their agility in such a fast changing geopolitical and economical international environment.”



There will be those that welcome change, those that resist change and those that will never change. Are you – as an enlightened leader – one of the fearless variety?


Trevor Lee – EP International




We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.