By Mike Stenhouse

Being in the executive recruitment market Sheffield are privileged to talk regularly with a wide range of clients and candidates from diverse business sectors.  Often, we are asked the question about the state of the market and our perceptions.  Sheffield is in a unique position of being the only executive search and recruitment consultancy in New Zealand with offices in the three main centres, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, therefore having both the scale and the unique insights into the landscape of New Zealand’s executive market. 

While we are in challenging times, there is a general reflection amongst our team that the market, particularly in relation to private sector appointments, is more buoyant currently than at any time over the last twelve months. 

Despite this, top leadership talent remains very difficult to attract to opportunities.  The market is tight for employers.  As you will be aware, high performing executives are generally not looking at opportunities in the market on a regular basis.  They are generally well ensconced and well rewarded in their current roles.

Increasingly we are finding that a dedicated search approach, alongside targeted advertising is the most effective way to unearth top talent.  Robust research led search can only be achieved with the support of dedicated, specialist Research Consultants.  We have highly skilled Research Consultants in each of our offices, who are truly focussed on leaving “no stone unturned” in their approach.

A review of our assignments over the last twelve months suggests that close to 90% of the short lists that we have provided to clients has involved some form of dedicated research, beyond our extensive national database.  The days of placing an advertisement in either print or online media and hoping for a good response are now a thing of the past.

Equally, it is fair to say that no two roles are the same.  Accordingly, our approach to identifying talent in each situation requires a proactive and highly customised method.  We are also finding that search is increasingly required beyond just Chief Executive roles and that our clients are asking us to be involved in tier 2 and tier 3 functional roles, often when their initial efforts have failed to deliver results.

Responding to client needs involves an innovative response and often unbundling our services, rather than providing a full end-to-end executive search solution.  For example, this might involve undertaking “market mapping” - researching a market, then the identification of potential candidates to approach.  Alternatively, our support in terms of such things as a front-end mailbox service or the undertaking of probity checks, reference checks and psychometric assessments are often called upon to assist our clients.

Sheffield has been established for over 60 years with offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and during that time our organisation has continued to adapt and change and reinvent our offer to meet changing client expectations and candidate needs. 

Another key trend that we are seeing is that regional New Zealand remains strong and one of our core unchanged attributes is our strong presence in the regions.  In particular for our South Island business this means regular presence and contact with our Otago and Southland clients, which we really enjoy. 

We have made a significant investment with our new premises in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and our strong team of very experienced Consultants, dedicated Researchers and support staff with a focus on “Great People, Great Partners” remaining a constant.

Looking ahead, as Bob Kelleher stated in 2019, “the war for talent is over and the talent has won”.  While I reflect on over 30 years with Sheffield, I remain involved and committed in my role as an Executive Director leading the South Island business and I continue to enjoy partnering with our valued clients and supporting them with their people and leadership needs.  As any business owner will recognise, this is a day in day out commitment that still motivates me, a few years after I signed on.

Please feel free to call me, or any one of the Sheffield team, to discuss how we can help you and your business with your key talent needs.  We’d be delighted to talk with you.


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