When “ready-to-think” puts the brakes on talent development. – Nicole Gelée, Senior Consultant / Executive Coach, Grant Alexander – Leadership Development for FocusRH

“Are you ambitious?” At the start of the coaching session, my interlocutor seems to hesitate between astonishment, contempt and disgust. He replies, in the expected manner, that he doesn’t ask himself the question in these terms, that he’s wary of ambition, that on reflection, yes, he may have ambitions, but that they are plural, collective, turned towards others and of course that they are “healthy”. I understand his reaction perfectly: like “power”, “ambition” is a taboo word in the corporate world. It’s only used with great caution, and never to talk about oneself. And, of course, the taboo plays its social role here: it reminds us that our behavior cannot be purely selfish, that it must be directly or indirectly directed towards something greater than ourselves.


You can’t just be ambitious for yourself, and above all you can’t be ambitious to the detriment of everyone else and your company’s project. So why ask this question? Precisely to encourage my interviewee to ask himself the right questions, to think outside the box, to “dig deeper” into the subject to better identify what makes him unique and reveal the full richness of his personality: his experience, his aptitudes, his aspirations, his way of working.




Indeed, if we censor ourselves too easily and too often, contenting ourselves with reproducing commonly accepted interpretations without even paying attention, we sometimes limit our field of reflection. Asking the question of personal ambition in this way means breaking out of a comfort zone that confines this notion to upward mobility and its shortcomings. It means recognizing the polysemy of the word, and thus being able to evoke the diversity of the driving forces behind a person’s commitment. It lays the essential foundations for a fruitful, honest and deeply human exchange. The point is to identify what really motivates the person, what drives them forward, what are their driving forces and resources. Rather than getting stuck on a definitive moral judgment, the person is invited to express his or her ambition freely, whatever it may be: to progress in order to take on more responsibility, to achieve a better work-life balance in order to devote more time to the family while increasing productivity, to improve English in order to develop internationally… how are these various ambitions, in themselves, “good” or “bad”? The only question is whether, and under what conditions, these drivers can be reconciled with the company’s project and values.




Let’s take another example. Many people pride themselves on being “influential”. On the other hand, no one will boast that they like to “manipulate” those around them! Admittedly, here again, the difference in terms reflects a difference in meaning: we can encourage influence that enables others to progress, that enables us to share a strong conviction, that federates a group towards a common goal; on the other hand, we must combat phenomena of psychological manipulation exercised in the interests of a single individual, which do not benefit the company and which create unease and even suffering in the workplace.

But there’s more. When we talk about influence, we always end up evoking a personal approach: a preferred tactic, a mastered technique, a well-established way of acting, a know-how nurtured by experience but based on a constant framework that reflects the strengths of the individual, the levers he or she knows how to use to get others to adopt his or her point of view. By daring to question the term “manipulation”, without making any a priori moral judgements, we are, on the contrary, giving ourselves the opportunity to evoke a whole range of behaviours and postures, scenarios and modes of operation. What am I trying to change in the other person’s state of mind or behavior? How might the other person react? Why or why not? How can I adapt to their reaction? In this way, we come face to face with the unexpected, even the unknown. We broaden our horizons, taking into account other ways of thinking, seeing things, even acting. This is how you become more agile, but also more energetic and convincing.

In reality, like many other terms used on a daily basis in the workplace, taboo words generate images and interpretations that are partly cultural, in the zeitgeist, sometimes sincere, but too often no longer even questioned.




In coaching and training, one of the main objectives is to apprehend the complexity of situations and the diversity of a team – the coexistence of different profiles, viewpoints and behaviors – as a source of enrichment and personal and collective performance. The challenge is to recognize, accept, understand, appreciate and draw on the diversity of individuals and managers. To achieve this, we need to be willing to confront otherness. Questioning unfamiliar words and concepts, challenging our preconceptions and habitual interpretations, can help. To get answers, we first need to ask ourselves the right questions, the ones that get us out of our comfortable but all too reductive little boxes, stamped and categorized behaviors, Manichean approaches. Freeing ourselves from ready-to-think also means avoiding settling for ready-to-act.




Read the article on FocusRH


Rediscover the pleasure of managing! – Nicole Gelée, Senior Consultant / Executive Coach, Grant Alexander – Leadership Development for FocusRH


By talking to him about this managerial position, you thought you’d please him. The proposal was meant to be rewarding, but he saw it as stressful. So he turned it down, and promises of a change in status or a pay rise did nothing to help. How to explain this disengagement?




Let’s face it: managers are no longer the stuff of dreams. It suffers from a bad reputation, associated primarily with work overload, crushing responsibilities and increasing constraints. The development of telecommuting and the reduction of time-sharing within the company, the cohabitation of generations with different aspirations and attitudes, the growing expression of singularities within a weakened collective framework: recent societal evolutions are cited to explain this disenchantment. Because of them, managers are said to live under the weight of permanent and often contradictory injunctions on a daily basis. They are even said to be paralyzed in the face of psychosocial risks, in fear of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing or reacting in the wrong way. While they naturally aspire to be recognized as effective, close and attentive managers, they say they are mostly faced with the hostility of disappointed, hurt and demotivated employees. Many are even asking the question: in an age of individualism, nomadism, distance, flexibility and agility, does managing still make sense?





How can we restore the desire, the taste and even the pleasure of managing? First and foremost, we need to remember the essentials: managing is an opportunity. To manage is to support, encourage, energize and unite. It also means fostering team spirit, creating the conditions for sharing information, ensuring that skills complement each other, and giving meaning to personal and collective work. What could be more inspiring than being useful to both the company and each individual employee? What’s more, managing is one of the most complete and beautiful forms of development. By managing, you help others to grow, but not only that: by confronting a diversity of personalities, situations, experiences and issues, you grow yourself.

Without being exhaustive, this role helps develop the ability to listen and pay attention to each individual. It helps to better manage priorities. It encourages curiosity and creativity to find relevant solutions. It reinforces rigor and high standards with regard to others and ourselves. It encourages responsibility by making us face up to the consequences of each decision. In the final analysis, management means fulfilling oneself by helping others to fulfill themselves. Would young people really be indifferent to such a prospect? No! According to one study[1], 32% of students see themselves as team captains and 27% as coaches, compared with just 8% as referees and 1% as spectators. So the idea of being the captain (the manager) doesn’t put them off! Better still, it fits in perfectly with the quest for meaning so dear to their hearts.




Being appointed manager shouldn’t be seen as a poisoned chalice, or even as a painful but inevitable step in a successful professional career. It’s a tremendous opportunity to be seized. Yes, managing can and should be a pleasure. On three conditions, however. Firstly, it’s important to remember that not everyone is destined to become a manager. We don’t all have the same talents, aptitudes or aspirations. Being a manager requires know-how and professional skills, as well as interpersonal skills, certain dispositions and even an appetite. The right internal process or appropriate external diagnostics can ensure that the person identified really does have the potential to develop the skills required for the role.

Next, we need to “manage the manager”. He, too, needs to be supported throughout his assignment, with appropriate training when he takes up his new post, with recognition of his role through genuine career development, with recognition of his achievements, and with clear, relevant guidelines that will enable him to understand and calmly grasp societal changes. Beyond this support, managers have an essential role to play in re-enchanting the managerial function, by conveying a positive and enthusiastic vision of this mission, or by testifying to what they have learned and gained from exercising this function.

Finally, a suitable time frame must enable the manager to develop his or her leadership skills. Very often, managers are suffering… because they don’t actually manage, or manage only a little. Many are short of time, having been assigned this function on top of their previous responsibilities, without redefining their position or reorganizing their team. In the end, they are unable to invest fully in their new mission, devoting too much energy to administrative tasks such as coordinating telecommuting schedules. Management time must therefore be restored, up to a quarter or even a third of working time.

The role of manager is neither outdated nor doomed. It’s time to restore it to its former glory, and to make the adjustments made necessary by the profound changes underway!

[1] EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre © 2024 Sport and employability

Read the article on FocusRH

No, team-building is not (always) team bullshit! – Anne-Laure Pams, Director Grant Alexander – Leadership Development for FocusRH


Team-building is under attack! There is a proliferation of articles casting doubt on the concept. A study conducted by two teachers/researchers has set things alight. The participants interviewed, young graduates of the prestigious universities, described moments that were judged to be in turn absurd, grotesque, uncomfortable and even humiliating. Employees felt manipulated and infantilised by “orchestrated fun”. The authors make no bones about it: “In the tradition of bullshit jobs, team building also contains its share of bullshit1“. So should this exercise be condemned to oblivion? Absolutely not. As long as there is a clear understanding of its purpose and prerequisites.



Let’s clear up a misunderstanding: team-building is not about celebrating success or rewarding employees. An end-of-year event based around a cookery class, a good dinner and a thank-you speech may contribute to a good atmosphere in the company, but it is not team-building.

As the name suggests, the aim is to build a team. There are several possible typical situations: the installation of a new or renewed team following a reorganisation; or the malfunctioning of a collective, with recurring misunderstandings, opacity, a lack of cross-functionality, employee fatigue, etc. It can also concern a team that needs to be strongly aligned or re-aligned, to successfully carry out a transformation or get through a crisis; or that needs to strengthen itself further to perform better. In all cases, the challenge is to strengthen the feeling of belonging to the same team, cohesion, operating methods and the resulting commitment.

The consulting partner must therefore first endeavour to understand the customer’s precise needs and unique situation. This will enable them to design a programme that meets the company’s specific needs. This is why, in reality, there is no such thing as “turnkey” team-building: a proposal formulated in this way comes under the heading of events, not strategic consultancy.



What is criticised about team-building is the cosmetic dimension that some people have unfortunately given it.

But “real” team building involves subjective, deeply human processes that are anything but superficial or purely sensational. Its aim is to create not just a good time, but a lasting positive energy, and to ensure that it is properly allocated according to well-defined and well-understood priorities.

First of all, the approach requires an effort to align the participants on a common base: a shared vision, an agreement on the image we want to project. This means looking at the most structuring elements of the company, its culture and its operating methods. Sometimes it even involves questioning the manager’s own communication.

In addition, it is essential to identify the sticking points and assess their recurrence, so as to be able to tackle these situations differently by redefining the roles of each person, beyond their functions. Quite often, the issues addressed are by no means minor: the loneliness of the executive is brought out into the open, and potentially deep-rooted conflicts need to be purged. The aim of this very delicate process is to free up the floor to restore fluidity and confidence.

Finally, team-building is not a one-shot deal. It’s a long-term approach: you can’t build a team in a single seminar. It is therefore essential to make commitments by drawing up an action plan. It can be followed up over time, which is just as vital, with “anchoring” sessions lasting a few hours at regular intervals to take stock of the situation.



At the end of the day, we’re a long way from an accrobranche course, which is not team-building as such, or even a key stage in such a process.

But can a fun event still make sense? Yes, to bring work sessions to a close with an informal moment. Or to create a rhythm, provided that it fits in well with the approach, by highlighting and dealing with points of dysfunction by analogy. The aim is to get the participants to react and find an appropriate solution that can be applied to their day-to-day team life.

It is also important that these lighter sessions are designed to be consistent with the levels of responsibility and profiles of the participants. From this point of view, the sack race is probably not the best idea for management or executive teams…

Properly designed and run, team-building can be a tremendous asset to a company. In many situations, it is even essential, particularly at a high level. This is particularly true of the Executive Committee, which has a considerable impact on the other teams in the company through mimicry and modelling.


1- From laughter to tears: when team building goes astray, by Xavier Philippe, lecturer and researcher in the sociology of work at EM Normandie, and Thomas Simon, assistant professor at Montpellier Business School (MBS). The Conversation, 27 November 2023.


Read the article on FocusRH

Underemployment of seniors… we’re all responsible! – Alban Azzopardi, Chief Executive Officer? Grant Alexander – Executive Interim

Between the highly sensitive issue of pay and that of generational breakdown, Alban Azzopardi looks at the reasons why older French people find it so difficult to find work or stay in work. ion.

While the employment rate of 55-64 year-olds in France has risen significantly to 57%, it still lags behind the European average by more than 5 points, and even Denmark by almost 15 points.

A few days ago, the French Minister of the Economy said he was in favor of lowering the duration of unemployment benefits for the over-55s to bring them into line with those of other unemployed workers. But will this really solve the problem?

It’s a fact: on average, company directors and HR directors recruit few older employees, often preferring younger profiles. Yet they say they have no objective reason to disadvantage them, and even recognize their many skills.

How can we explain this paradox? Recruiters cite two main reasons. The first is the sensitive issue of remuneration. In fact, we seem to consider that advancing in age should automatically be accompanied by an increase in salary, as if it were justified to remunerate past experience rather than current added value. Similarly, a younger employee has no fewer needs than an older one. This is even truer in France than in other OECD countries: in France, the average salary of over-55s is 17% higher than that of 25-54 year-olds, compared with 11% in Germany and 3% in Denmark.

Breaking with this line of reasoning would mean, on a case-by-case basis, aligning a senior employee’s remuneration with the tasks actually entrusted to him or her. Although possible and legitimate on a case-by-case basis, this solution cannot be applied across the board: it would be neither fair (higher salaries may also reflect, in part, greater productivity), nor even desirable in view of the decline in purchasing power. In order to preserve purchasing power, we would have to compensate for any reductions in remuneration with new exemptions from charges linked to age or type of contract.

The second reason has to do with day-to-day corporate life. In the face of generational disruptions, linked to technological upheavals and societal changes, some people – wrongly – doubt that a senior employee can adapt to the profound and rapid evolution of the world of work, and integrate into younger teams.

Which brings us to another question: what if the employment difficulties experienced by older people reflect our particular relationship to work, leisure and retirement? This is in a state of upheaval. On average, we’ll be living and working longer and differently. Beyond a post-covid effect, we’re convinced that we’re only at the beginning of a revolution that should push us all to evolve.

As far as employees are concerned, the change is well underway, with the questioning of an approach that distinguishes between well-defined periods: studies, then employment (valuing the sacrosanct CDI and career advancement) and finally retirement, materialized by the psychological cut-off age of 60, which has changed little despite successive reforms. More and more working people – and not just young people – are planning to move back and forth between training, employment and career breaks, seeking a better balance between personal and family life, and changing companies and even professions more frequently. From this point of view, the last years of a working life can be seen as a period of transition during which people wish to “take their foot off the accelerator”, while remaining active and giving their employer the benefit of their experience and skills.

Ultimately, companies have a crucial role to play! It’s not a question of encouraging them to “take the risk” of recruiting a senior employee, but of helping them to profoundly change their approach to the issue. They need to integrate intergenerational skills into the company as an inescapable and beneficial fact, and give their senior employees the right place, the one in which they will flourish most, in the interests of the whole company.

Whether we act on remuneration or the content of the assignment, we won’t be able to do without overhauling the professional framework, giving more space to agility, with, in particular, more short contracts linked to precise assignments, remunerated according to the work produced and not the CV of the holder. The fact that France is lagging behind in the employment of older workers reflects our psychological, organizational and legal rigidities. It is by tackling these issues without taboos that we will meet the challenge of a society where fulfillment can become a reality at any age.

Read the article on la Croix website

Candidate mobility – Beware ! – Godefroy de la Bourdonnaye, International Director & Consultant


After the euphoria of the post-Covid period, when many executives were looking to move and were putting themselves on the job market by flaunting their mobility, the situation is now very different. Many of us, recruiters in recruitment agencies and in companies, have recently noticed a persistent tension in the executive job market, reflected in a high level of volatility. In a position of strength in a market where recruitment difficulties persist (see Apec’s 3rd quarter economic report), executives who enter this market have more and more choice. But the attractiveness of the job is no longer the main criteria, and more personal criteria are now being taken into account: the balance between work and personal life is now a major factor. And in this search for a better balance, geographical mobility has become a stumbling block, generating high volatility and recruitments with uncertain outcomes. Here are a few keys to understanding the phenomenon.



Firstly, many executives have realised that it is no longer necessary to change employer to change region. Telecommuting, generalized from 2021, has led many executives to question their plans to change jobs, preferring to keep their benefits and seniority, even if it means spending 2/3 days a week in Paris. The immediate effect (in the space of a year) has been a drop in the number of applicants for jobs in the regions, and an explosion in property prices in many towns located 2 hours from Paris.

Two key rules follow from these reminders.



By the summer of 2022, things have calmed down. Gone are the days of ultra-mobility among executives, who no longer leave their employer on a whim and start thinking twice before changing jobs, and three times if it means moving their family. The international context is not very positive either (inflation, war in Ukraine…), so managers have become harder to attract, asking for much more information than before to reassure themselves before embarking on a recruitment process. As a result, companies have started to struggle to fill their vacancies, finding themselves forced to rethink their processes and their employer brand.



As a result, executives found themselves increasingly in demand, sometimes with 2-3 opportunities at one time. But at the same time, property lending rates have soared, and banks have tightened their lending conditions. It’s impossible to consider moving in this context: you can’t be sure that you’ll be able to find a new home in your destination town, even if you’ve managed to sell your property properly. Nor would renting be a solution: the supply is insufficient or exorbitant.



So it seems that it is the tension of the executive job market, combined with the property crisis, that is leading to unprecedented volatility: many recruitments are being restarted after a profile has been withdrawn. And when we look in detail, geographical mobility is often the reason given. It’s tempting, when you’re approached several times, to accept an offer for the 1st position that’s successful, even if it means moving house. At least, “you’ve already got that”, and there’s nothing to stop you seeing what happens with the other offers, which take longer to sort out. And if one of them is also favourable but avoids the need to move, you can withdraw from the 1st project. And too bad if you’ve signed a letter of employment on this 1st project, after all “it’s an offer you can’t refuse”. This sends out a disastrous message to the market: in order to preserve their chances and make the most of the market that is favourable to them, candidates end up reneging on their sense of commitment and their word of honour. And recruiters are dismayed, especially when the phenomenon becomes frequent and affects all job levels, right up to management level…



There can be no question here of discriminating on the basis of geography. But until the job market turns around, and to avoid being repeatedly turned down, recruiters will have to be particularly vigilant, and validate the real motivations of the profile that expresses mobility in principle, right from the first exchanges.

Once recruitment has been finalised, nothing is set in stone and anything can still happen! We advise our clients to keep a close eye on the future employee during the notice period, before he or she takes up the post: the employer can always buy him or her out, as can the appearance of the famous “offer you can’t refuse”! A few phone calls at regular intervals to check in or discuss administrative matters, a meeting with future colleagues in an informal setting… These are all good reasons to stay in touch and keep motivation high.

It’s vital that the new employee feels welcome, and that the induction process is perfectly organised. The more he or she feels expected, the more important it will be for him or her to integrate successfully and to plan ahead…

As recruiters will have realised, this profound change in the job market requires us to adapt our practices, to be agile and creative. In the same way, our role at Grant Alexander has become more than ever an advisory one. As well as finding the right profile, our job now is to explain, make our clients aware of the issues and support them.

For candidates who are entering the market with plans to move (to follow their spouse, bring in their family…), the aim will be to reassure potential recruiters by explaining the reasons for this mobility as early as possible. While companies are wary of a mobile profile “on principle”, they will be particularly interested in a profile whose mobility is justified and targeted.

In addition to this “mobility” aspect, it’s worth highlighting the resurgence of the value of “reliability” in the eyes of recruiters: honouring commitments, taking responsibility, being transparent… these are all qualities that will make the difference in the recruitment process!



Recruiting in the Industry sector in the coming months? Be Agile and Fast!

A few weeks ago, expert members of InterSearch Worldwide’s Industrial Practice Group met in person in Paris, hosted by the French member of InterSearch, Grant Alexander to make a global assessment of the industrial recruitment market, sharing thoughts and views. Here are the main findings of this analysis we performed and to which other InterSearch industrial experts from around the world also contributed:



Candidate-Driven Market


This may not be a reassuring thought for the reader, but the candidate-driven market is not a phenomenon limited to 1 country or 1 region. Across the world, all experts make the same assessment: candidates have more options and are therefore in a position of strength, to demand higher salaries as well as other perks related to work-life balance. They are also way pickier when it comes to company culture. This leads to growing difficulties in filling positions: senior management roles in industries like engineering and technology are particularly affected, as well as middle-management roles across all subsectors. Johanna Horn, at InterSearch Germany, observes:

Johanna Horg


“For the younger generation (candidates up to the age of 40), values have changed. Relocation, frequent business travelling requirements, the number of office days etc. have become show stoppers, as work-life balance or just more time with the family have become more important.”

This tight market makes it difficult for companies to find suitable candidates, sometimes forcing them to simply give up and think of other ways to achieve a project.



Focus on Sustainability and CSR


Companies across multiple regions are increasingly prioritizing sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Candidates, especially the younger generation, consider a company’s attitude towards sustainability and values when making career decisions. This shift emphasizes the need for companies to integrate sustainability into their business plans and actions and communicate them effectively to attract and retain talents. And since all companies are now moving on the subject, those with the most visible commitment will make the difference. Fortunately, governments are also stepping up their commitment to sustainable development. Micheál Coughlan, at InterSearch Ireland:



“Our country is making a strong push towards sustainability, with initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, invest in renewable energy, and promote green technologies. This trend is expected to continue and create opportunities in the clean energy and sustainability sectors.”


See InterSearch’s article on Sustainability-related recruitments, here.



Impact of Digital Transformation


Digital skills and IT expertise are in high demand across industries, which have seen an increase in automation, robotization of their processes, globally. ERP, CAM, WMS software have become widely adopted, even in the most traditional industries, and call for experts to ensure maintenance and developments. The shortage of talents in this field favors the growth of parallel businesses, which provide industries with a wide range of IT-related services: training, software development, externalized maintenance, cyber-security…


Sector-Specific Trends


In addition to local specifics (slowdown of the Technology sector in the US, high growth potential of the semiconductor industry in India, Aerospace rebound in France…), most markets witness a significant increase in the Renewable Energies sector, encouraged by government policies (see above).


Jay Yoo


“In Korea, the battery industry’s upstream and downstream sectors, including materials, manufacturing processes, and recycling, are experiencing growth, leading to a substantial demand for related experts” comments Jay Yoo (InterSearch South Korea).”

The same observation can be made in many countries in Europe (Norway, France, Ireland…), where numerous projects of wind farms, PV fields, hydrogen production facilities are deploying, arising the need for engineers and experts.





Unfortunately, there is no sign of a calm-down in the coming months, and the war of talent will probably intensify. Most InterSearch partners expect a structural talent shortage in all traditional roles, which will worsen with the emergence of new roles (digital, cyber, CSR…). Frequently engaged in several recruitment processes at the same time, the candidates will remain unpredictable and highly unreliable, leaving the outcome of your process uncertain until the end of the onboarding!


“In this context, the value of Executive Search firms has never been so clear. Our role has shifted somehow: it’s not only about finding the right talent and assessing hard-to-find soft skills such as Initiative, Adaptability, Engagement…, but it’s also about advising our clients on how to react, training them on the best way to lead a recruitment project and to discuss with potential employees, whatever the level.” – summarizes Godefroy De La Bourdonnaye, Head of Industrial Practice Group of InterSearch Worldwide.


Here are some tips from InterSearch partners:

  • Once you have a candidate secured for a 1st interview, be fast and give information on the process. According to Greg Harper, from InterSearch USA, “if the client is not prepared to move quickly and transparently, candidates quickly lose interest” and dropout. Frequent touch points are essential to keep the candidates involved in the process.
  • Rethink your recruitment processes: be ready to tailor the job for the candidate, adjusting the content and the prospects to his/her expectations, and not the other way around. Improve the candidate experience and make the difference, including a visit of the plant / headquarters at some point during the process, or even offering a 1-day immersion! Stick to the WYSIWYG motto: What you See Is What You Get!
  • Give an international dimension to the search, don’t limit yourself to your own territory. Some countries (i.e. Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates) are already used to go looking for expatriate profiles, worldwide. Ask your local InterSearch contact for more information on our cross-border solutions!
  • As an employer, be ready to state your company’s Why? It does make a difference with candidates looking for a purposeful job.
  • Work on your onboarding, to secure your new employees. But the job of securing the employee’s future begins even before he or she takes up the position, during the notice period with his or her previous employer! During this period, anything can happen: the profile may be bought out by the employer, he/she may change his/her mind, he/she may accept a better offer… Find excuses to stay in touch!



InterSearch Worldwide is a global organization of executive search firms consistently ranked amongst the largest retained executive search practices in the world. InterSearch is currently operating with over 90 offices in more than 50 countries, able to operate in 70+. Established in 1989 in the UK, InterSearch carefully selects the best executive search firms to partner with as a member of a global entity with high integrity, transparency, and depth of experience. InterSearch prides itself on having a global reach with local impact.

>> Read the article on InterSearch’s website

Artificial intelligence will not replace executive search experts

Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently the talk of the town, and there is still no end in sight to the hype surrounding programs like ChatGPT. Can AI also replace jobs in executive search? Or if not replace, then complement and support them? If Henri Vidalinc of InterSearch France has his way, AI should do exactly that. He says artificial intelligence can already support the headhunting process, for example in the search for candidates or with tasks that do not require soft skills, but AI will not completely replace anyone, even in the long term.

“Our work is essentially shaped by our understanding of the client’s needs, providing advice and proposing tailor-made solutions, and this can only be done through a good, professional relationship between consultant and client, but also one that is based on proximity” Vidalinc says. “That’s exactly what AI can’t do.” For an executive search firm like InterSearch, he says, it is therefore important to train employees to work with an AI program like ChatGPT, but also to strengthen and empower them in their consulting role.


Young member of the global InterSearch network


With offices in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Nantes, as well as in Ivory Coast, Vidalinc and his colleagues have been part of the InterSearch network since 2022, making their firm one of the youngest members. The approximately 75 employees at InterSearch – Grant Alexander not only specialize in executive search, but also offer interim management, leadership development, and consulting in HR transformation. “We are already well positioned and have an excellent reputation in both France and West Africa, but we wanted to broaden our international reach,” explains Vidalinc.

Often, the tendency to work only with direct neighbors becomes entrenched, for example between France and Germany, Belgium or Italy, but due to the internationality of InterSearch with a presence in over 50 countries, one must now think outside the box, says Vidalinc. He cites a success story: a manufacturing company that operates in some 30 countries needed new managers not only in France, but also in Australia, Japan, Mexico and South Africa. This is precisely where the InterSearch colleagues based in these respective countries came into play and were able to successfully fill the vacant positions quickly.

“InterSearch Worldwide sets high standards that the partners in the individual countries have to meet. In the case of France, it was decided to choose a new partner and Grant Alexander, after a thorough selection process, was taken on board” adds Alexander Wilhelm, Managing Partner at InterSearch in Germany and Member of the Board InterSearch Worldwide. He was recently able to attest to the convincing quality of the French colleagues in the context of a search mandate for a managing director in France for a well-known medium-sized company from Germany.


COO for unification of standards


“There are of course small, subtle differences in approach within the various countries,” says Vidalinc, “but it is precisely this understanding that distinguishes InterSearch worldwide and contributes to our success and that of our clients.”

To further unify the approach and support for clients and candidates within the company, Vidalinc recently hired a chief operating officer in France. His task is to ensure that all parties have the same high level of understanding of how demanding clients and candidates are looked after, be it regarding position profiles, reports, interviews or candidate introductions, in order to offer the best possible experience. “Deviating nuances are of course desired, we are all humans, not robots.” And that’s how it should stay, says Vidalinc.

About InterSearch Executive Consultants InterSearch Executive Consultants is one of the leading personnel consultancies and specializes in the recruitment of executives (Executive Search) and systematic analyses of executive potential (Management Audit / Executive Diagnostic). Founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personalberatung”, the company is now represented in Germany with three offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne and was a founding partner of InterSearch Worldwide in 1989. Today, InterSearch operates worldwide in the field of executive search with more than 600 consultants in over 50 countries with more than 90 locations.

>> Read the article on InterSearch.de website

InterSearch Worldwide’ s first in-person Industrial Practice Group convention in Paris


In late April, the industrial segment experts of InterSearch Ww convened in the beautiful city of Paris, France for a two-day knowledge exchange.

This gathering provided an opportunity to share best practices in executive search, ensuring the delivery of the highest quality service to InterSearch Ww’s clients across the globe through international assignments.

Hosted by Godefroy De La Bourdonnaye, Head of Industrial Practice Group of InterSearch Ww, the event also featured a round table discussion with representatives of clients of Grant Alexander -InterSearch Member of France: Charlotte Delmas, HR Director at Datawords and Alain Everbecq, Senior Executive at Poclain.

In the course of the discussion, InterSearch delegates from 10 countries across Europe, Middle East & Africa provided market intelligence while the guests present also shared their perspectives, current challenges and expectations resulting in a dynamic exchange of insights and ideas.


InterSearch Worldwide is a global organization of executive search firms consistently ranked amongst the largest retained executive search practices in the world. InterSearch is currently operating with over 90 offices in more than 50 countries, able to operate in 70+. Established in 1989 in the UK, InterSearch carefully selects the best executive search firms to partner with as a member of a global entity with high integrity, transparency, and depth of experience. InterSearch prides itself on having a global reach with local impact.
More : www.intersearch.org
For over 30 years, Grant Alexander has been a partner in the performance of organizations and their leaders, providing them with comprehensive support for all their skills management and development needs, always with a tailor-made response. A multi-specialist HR consulting and services group, with 4 activities (Executive Search, Executive Interim, Leadership Development, HR & Organization Transformation), it operates in all sectors, on all functions (managers/experts /rare profiles), throughout the world. It has several offices in France (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse), an office in Abidjan for Africa, and is an active member of InterSearch, of which it is the exclusive partner in France. A socially committed player, Grant Alexander is Lucie 26000 certified.
More : www.grantalexander.com


>> Read the article on InterSearch website

A successful InterSearch Worldwide global conference in Colombia


This year the InterSearch community held the annual global conference in the historic Old Town of Cartagena, Colombia – a Unesco World Heritage Site much beloved by the Colombian Nobel prize writer Gabriel García Márquez.

On the three-days agenda:

  • The excellent results of the InterSearch organization, which in 2022 consolidated 190 million USD in revenues, 25% growth in comparison to 2021
  • industry trends and insights with a thorough analysis of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion made by award-winning “Diversity Headhunter” and author of Diversity and Inclusion for Leaders: Making a Difference with the Diversity Headhunter Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park – the InterSearch member firm in the UK
  • the election of the new Board of Directors: Leslie Cooper (Chile), Alexander Wilhelm (Germany), Jyorden Misra (India), Peter Waite (Australia), and Frank Schelstraete (Benelux) whose chairmanship was confirmed for another two years
  • the InterSearch Excellence Award won by Alexis Pariset, Partner and Regional Director at Grant Alexander, the InterSearch member firm in France
  • the introduction of the new InterSearch Associated member in Brazil, Weplace
  • the unanimous ratification of 5 new Shareholders: Colombia, France, Mexico, Singapore, UK.

“We thank our member in Colombia and exquisite host CMC – Career Management Consultants and especially Juan Felipe Cadavid and his team for the excellent venue, leisure time and team building programs that made this conference a memorable event for all participants” said Frank Schelstraete, Chairman.

















All InterSearch members already look forward to the next in-person events, which will include the Industrial Global practice group meeting in Paris (France) in late April, the Academy Training in Copenhagen (Denmark) in the Autumn followed by the EMEA Regional meeting, and the global conference 2024 that will be held in Barcelona, Spain in May 2024.






How to ensure a successful handover when a manager retires – Anne-Laure Pams





When do managers need an offboarding process? For someone who has been committed – perhaps overly so – to developing their company for several decades, retirement constitutes a sensitive transition period. Most managers go through different stages – more or less consciously – the closer they get to the big day. A sense of flight, for example, may be followed by a rebound in energy which, in turn, can give way to simply letting go. While sometimes not clearly in evidence, their discomfort is nevertheless damaging. Realisation will start to sink in that retirement means they will no longer be ‘in the spotlight’. And yet the need for recognition and the desire to be impactful are often what provide managers with their source of mental strength.




To compensate for this loss, the most enlightened managers will make plans to take on company directorships or throw themselves wholeheartedly into their own personal projects. But for those who don’t, this emotional roller coaster constitutes one of the most dysfunctional behaviours possible for the company, especially for the team who will be remaining in place and who have no other option but to contend with their manager’s discomfort. It is not unusual, for example, that some outgoing managers are unable to cope with the idea of the company continuing without them. In the most extreme cases, they can even behave irrationally: their ego bruised, a retiring manager may unconsciously sabotage their successor in an effort to assert their authority one last time before making their final exit.

This strategic issue, largely concealed by the company, must then be handled by the HR department or even the general office staff. At the very least, they are expected to alert the manager and suggest to them that they focus not only on the handing over of their position but also on their own personal transition.




When retirement cannot be envisaged as a happy prospect but, rather, is a source of internal turmoil, then a support structure is needed. Implementing a plan for succession within a company is a first step from an organisational point of view, but it does not help the manager in question come out of denial. Because, at this point, they will be questioning their entire identity, not to mention their place in an environment where they have no decision-making powers. Coaching will offer them the individual support structure that they need. This option allows them not only to accept the transition but to prepare it and safeguard it. The future retiree will have the opportunity to reflect on their new role going forward, the steps they want to take to continue creating value and the legacy they want to leave behind when it is time to say goodbye…

Given proper support – provided by good partners a year, or even two, in advance – the retiring manager will be able to turn their departure into a constructive changeover, transitioning more gradually and hence less ‘violently’. A company with the foresight to prepare for its manager’s retirement ahead of time and, therefore, to avoid potential disruptions, will also have everything to gain from this support structure.

Article by Anne-Laure Pams, Director at Grant Alexander – Leadership Development, Executive Coach, Co-president of the Coaching Commission of Syntec Conseil.