Archive for AIMS International

I wanna be in America, I wanna be in America… la la la

Där människor möts, där möts också idéer. En central plats för möten i Amerika är Panama – landet mitt mellan Nord- och Sydamerika men också mellan Atlanten och Stilla havet. Landet som har kanalen som underlättat så mycket för världshandeln. Huvudstaden Panama City har som följd blivit en mötesplats för näringslivet i västra halvklotet. I år var den också en passande plats för AGM (Annual Global Meeting) och Executive Search-konsulterna i AIMS International att mötas och utbyta tankar och idéer om framtida kundsamarbeten.

Det är viktigt för oss att förstå så mycket som möjligt om kundernas behov och önskemål angående våra tjänster. För att få fakta kring kund- och kandidatbeteenden samt inblick i utvecklingen av vår bransch var Karen Greenbaum, President och CEO för AESC inbjuden som talare. AESC står för Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants är en världsomspännande organisation med +16000 konsulter. De följer nära vad kunder önskar från oss konsulter i framtiden. Det två viktigaste faktorerna vid val av samarbetspartner är den enskilde konsultens kunskaper om Executive Search och om kundens bransch. Sustainability är också viktigt våra kunder. Därför har AIMS International anslutit sig som företag till UN Global Compact för leva i enlighet med FN:s globala hållbarhetsmål. Ett annat centralt och engagerande ämne för mötet var hur vi på bästa sätt använder Artificiell Intelligens i vårt arbete. Vår Americas-värdar hade därtill traditionsenligt organiserat ett kundevent med regionala och intressanta företagsledare, som delade med sig kring såväl utmaningar som om samarbetet med AIMS International.

AIMS International växer och har vi har fler möjligheter än någonsin tidigare att hjälpa våra kunder. Under mötet presenterade sig våra nya kollegor i Portugal och Texas. Redan tidigare fanns en närvaro på alla kontinenter i +50 länder, med ca 90 kontor och +300 konsulter. Vårt gemensamma erbjudande är We FIND&GROW your leaders med våra tjänster Executive Search, Board Services och Talent Management.

Konsulterna från 9 olika länder i regionen Americas hade i samband med AGM ett regionalt möte för att utveckla sitt erbjudande och samarbete dem emellan och med resten av världen. Vi deltog även i detta möte.

Det är ytterst berikade som vi återvänder till Sverige. Dels har vi fått lära oss på djupet om de olika ländernas specifika situationer, Panama i sig är intressant med bl.a. sin fascinerande kanal och sist men inte minst ger det en enorm styrka att vi har så god atmosfär och enhetlig framtidsambition i AIMS International.

AIMS International AGM in Panama 2023

Panama City

Panama, Suez Canal

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Meet Sukwon Choi

EVP Asia and Pacific as well as Executive Search Consultant in South Korea

South Korea has population of about 51 million inhabitants and a geographical size about the same as Hungary or Iceland. South Korea is notable for its rapid economical development in a few generations from an underdeveloped nation to a developed, high-income economy. They are member of OECD since 1996 and the value of their currency the Won has been quite stable over the past decade. By nominal GDP, South Korea has the 4th largest economy in Asia and the 12th largest in the world.  The country is known for its advanced manufacturing sector, which produces high-value products like semiconductors and automobiles and has many well-known companies like Samsung, Hyundai Motors, and SK Group.

What is your background and what attracted you to make a career change into becoming an Executive Search Consultant?

I was born and raised in Seoul Korea and got educated in US to a degree in economics at University of California Los Angeles. I started my career in investment and finance with firms like UBS and Morgan Stanley. My experience with Executive Search Consultants had been very positive and critical when I made my career moves in the past. This experience instilled me about my transition to Executive Search very naturally when an opportunity arose. Unlike many other careers this business we are in do not have to sell or take advantage of others – I love the idea of win-win business relationship.

What are your own focus areas as Executive Search Consultant?

As Managing Partner I focus on business development and client management for Executive Search services in South Korea. I have strong presence in the alternative investment area, especially Private Equity market. Over 70% of assignments are generated by PE clients of which 30% assignments are in the area of investment managers and 70% for PEs portfolio companies.

What can you tell us about AIMS International in South Korea?

AIMS International in South Korea has a strong presence with more than 10 years of strong business building as part of AIMS International global alliance. We currently have about 30 consultants with offices in our capital Seoul and in Busan, which our second biggest city and one of the biggest ports in the world. We are able to provide Executive Search Services to most major industries, especially to the area of IT and industrial manufacturing markets. During the recent Covid period many bio and life sciences businesses emerged as another major roaring market. The South Korean market is very familiar with Swedish brands and we want to expand further ties between the two countries.

What is South Koreas economy like?

As world’s top 10 economy Korea proves itself time and time again as Asia’s most important economy alongside with China and Japan. As a big global number one producer in the areas like semiconductor and mobile phones, South Korea has many competitive industry positions in the areas of technology, automotive, bio science, games and more. Recent and continued booming trend of M&As and corporate IPOs many make it possible for companies to enjoy in-organic growth and provide opportunities for new management changes.

How would you describe the Executive Search market in South Korea?

Our Executive Search business meaningfully began in the early 90s. Upon reaching new millennium especially posting 2010 market became quite saturated due to heavy reliance on multiple major HR portals (Saramin, Job Korea, Remember, Linkedin etc.). Many Executive Search Businesses have to compete with transactional database driven HR portals. In some areas, holistic Executive Search Processes often became luxury when timely infusion of candidate profiles highly valued in the respect of cost per value standard. Indeed, in the midst of this market saturation, Executive Search firms who deliver differentiated services and value driven results are often sought after by major conglomerates and fast growing companies.

What is the most important advice for a foreign company who wish to invest, establish or increase their presence in South Korea?

Korea’s economy and culture is very dynamic and opt for fast change. Foreign companies who wish to establish or increase their presence in Korea should be able to ready apt for change in trends and also keen to global dynamics. Assured, companies that bring real value to the market should be able to stick with long term business marketing without short term result.

You are the Executive Vice President of AIMS International Asia Pacific (APAC) – what are the challenges in this region and what are the strongest trends you see moving forward when it comes to finding and keeping top talent?

It has been a long waited desire that AIMS APAC generates more cross border business and more interconnection with Western and Africans partners. Unlike European countries, where traveling, meeting and calling partners are in the hands of convenience, Asian partners have more challenges doing the same thing as it encounters different time zones, trans ocean travelling and different business cultures by each country. Building solid business relationship, one by one, like our process as Swedish Korean business relationship – continue adding this embedded trust relationship would allow closer steps toward success.

Sukwon Choi

South Korea


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How to manage your talents who are quietly quitting

The term quiet quitting refers to an approach to work in which an individual meets the minimum requirements of their job description but nothing more, no discretionary effort, no going above and beyond. The term has been discussed intensively lately in media. It is widely known that organizations include employees who have attitude of working “just for receiving salary”.

Motivate – demotivate

Why do some employees choose to become quiet quitters? In a recent article in Forbes the decrease of productivity is connected to quiet quitting and enforcing stricter work from policies. If distance workers are required to get back to the office under the threat of discipline, it leads to disengagement, fear, and distrust. As referred to in the article Gallup found that if people are required to come to the office for more time than they prefer, “employees experience significantly lower engagement, significantly lower well-being, significantly higher intent to leave and significantly higher levels of burnout.”

I believe that neither behavior of quietly quitting nor the reasons leading to quiet quitting are new. People feel demotivated or have other reasons not to be engaged and they can choose the quietly quitting approach. In this article I will discuss what to do if you identify that the previously high performing talent or you suspect your recent key recruitment has become a quiet quitter.

Define concrete behaviour

To begin with, you should reason why do you believe a person a quiet quitter by identifying a concrete behavior. The most notable sign is of course the decrease of performance/activity levels.  But I have witnessed also other early signs such as lack of interest of generating ideas, negative attitude, low engagement level in meetings or sudden change to short-term and purely operational perspective. The term quiet quitter is rather descriptive – a formerly active employee become quiet and passive.

Get an objective overview about the reasons for being demotivated

My recommendation is while discussing with the employee to create an environment where the employee feels comfortable in sharing the reasons for lower engagement. I agree with Forbes article that changes in distance working policies might cause dissatisfaction. However I believe there are numerous other reasons which are at least as common such as relationships issues with manager or colleagues, job task dissatisfaction, possibilities to impact or unclear mandate just to name few.

Action plans based on individual circumstances

Since the effects of quiet quitting are harmful for the whole organization, it is important that the leaders establish practices to prevent low engagement and thus increasing productivity.  We recommend that managers define action plans to based on individual circumstances. I do not believe there exist a standard solution but rather a combination of several actions which might include:

  • Allocating new and more demanding job tasks, additional responsibility, or clarification of mandate.
  • Follow up dialogues (e.g., weekly).
  • Solving team/relationship issue, if necessary, consider moving the person to another team.
  • Implement stretched targets, providing clear message on higher expectations.
  • Clarifying workplace/distance working issues and trying to find a solution which works for both employee and employer.
  • Redesigning the office to become a place for collaboration and socializing.

Coaching and mentoring as tools

I believe that providing mentoring and coaching for the employee to discuss the motivational drivers is a very good option to increase the job commitment.  International Coaching Federations Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness, and more growth and opportunities. The same study found that coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. Nearly 70 percent of individuals indicated they had at least made back their initial investment.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized to support companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new way-of-working and providing Executive Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale is Partner and works with Executive Search and Talent Management in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC).  Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on Talent Management practices.

Quiet quitters

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Meet Olivier Legrand

With its location in the centre of Europe, the three Benelux countries Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg make up Sweden’s third largest trading market. As the heart of the EU and NATO, Benelux is a highly relevant market in terms of security, politics, as well as commerce, and the collective GDP is one of the largest in Europe.

What is your background and what attracted you to make a career change into becoming an Executive Search Consultant?

During my corporate career I’ve had many times the opportunity to work on building – developing – transforming teams and organizations, and I’ve enjoyed that pretty much. During those years I have always been surprised how little the understanding of my business challenges was from HR consultant and especially Recruiters: The conviction is that a better support was possible was there. I was just missing a spark! And this happens when I met by coincidence Gregoire Depeursinge (Managing Partner AIMS Int Switzerland and at that time VP EMEA) during Automechanika in Frankfurt a few discussions later, and receiving the extra support from AIMS International Greece and AIMS International USA, AIMS International Belgium was created and a new professional chapter started for me.

How is your local presence in Belgium?

Belgium by its location and history is international by essence. Like myself I am born in France and I live in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium and been working for international companies. When me and my colleagues are looking for candidates we find them in Belgium but sometimes also in France, Switzerland or the rest of the French speaking communities of the world, or if we are looking for Flemish speaking candidates we are looking in the Netherlands. We are cooperating very closely cross border with our partner within AIMS International. Me and my colleagues can for sure help locally thanks to a deep understanding of the local market, but where we can make the difference is in our ability to help our customers locally and globally leveraging the unique global footprint AIMS international is offering: wherever they are looking for talent we can help following the same process and when needed with a central point of contact who will deeply understand their culture, specificities and challenges.

What is Belgiums economy like?

The economy of Belgium is a modern economy that has capitalised on the country’s central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. My country has developed an excellent transportation infrastructure of ports, canals, railways, and highways, in order to integrate our industry with that of our neighbours. We are about 11 million inhabitants in a small area of just +30.000 sq. meters so everything is close and Belgian companies often goes international very fast. Our economy is made of a healthy mix of some large groups and a multitude of mid to small size innovative companies, highly international driven. You will find here many international companies European (and sometimes global) Headquarters and large number of production facilities in Food (not to mention Beers and chocolates!), the Pharma/Life Science or Chemical sector and an extremely high transport & logistic activity especially around Antwerp and its harbor.

Innovation is highly stimulated by each region, and by many active cities like Leuven, Gent or Hasselt, hosting many rising stars.

How would you describe the Executive Search market in Belgium?

There is currently an interesting situation: companies are in need for talents and ready to hire while candidates are difficult to attract

First reason is the global context: we went through Covid, we have the war in Ukraine, price inflation. These situations generating stress, concerns with the consequence that a large part of potential candidates are feeling it is not the right time to change

Second is that it is a big challenge to get good candidates attention as they are in great demand.

Last but not least many companies have not understood yet that that the game has changed : they need to convince candidates more than they need to convince them ( to show long term vision, to be open for home office possibilities, to offer development opportunities for instance), and they need to be « quick on the ball », long processes with too many steps with not also easily available managers / executives are losing many candidates along the way.

How specifically do you handle international assignments?

It varies with the assignment and the desire of our client: we can perfectly handle from Belgium the project if our consultant’s expertise is what counts the most (in a specific sector for instance) or hand over to our local AIMS colleague if the local expertise counts the most.

To give you an example. When a company in Sweden would like to have help with an Executive Search project in Belgium they are already mostly a client to AIMS International in Sweden. My colleagues at AIMS International Sweden are responsible to lead the project and I am responsible to set up the local team in Belgium. If we need to make a multi county search I do it by myself or together with my colleagues in the French speaking countries or my colleagues in the Netherland. It depends about preferred languages.

The main driver is to propose the solution that will be the most efficient to the customer  and with the same process.

I know you work a lot within Automotive and Industrial with Executive Search, areas where we have collaborated together. Any other areas where you also work in and what type of assignments do you do?

AIMS International Belgium is supporting companies in the Automotive, within engineering, in the Chemie, in the food, in finance and in logistics so the scope is pretty broad. We can virtually help all sectors.

You are the Global Head of our Automotive and Mobility Practice – what are the challenges in that sector and what are the strongest trends you see moving forward when it comes to finding and keeping top talent?

The industry is under massive pressure as it needs to speed up its digital Revolution, handle a technology shift (electric vehicles) and successfully go through a quick consolidation phase.

To succeed, even at AI rising time, the decisive factor is the human factor: people.

It is thus for this industry a massive HR challenge:

  • supporting their team will cope with all changes and adjust to the new normal (engineers for sure, but sales and marketing too)
  • supporting their management will adjust (managing new generations with other expectations, driving towards more gender equity and more diversity)
  • attracting talents in new technologies at a time when Automotive is less attractive than some other industries / sectors.
  • securing the next generation is properly prepared with the appropriate succession planning in place.

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Meet Leonie Pentz

South Africa is the second largest economy on the African continent. As a steadily growing consumer market, it offers plenty of possibilities for Swedish companies to establish local activities.

With its 60 million inhabitants and continuously increasing consumer market, South Africa is a regional hotspot for growth in the south of the continent.

Sweden exports many different products to South Africa, including vehicles, electric and ICT equipment and heavy machinery for mining, but also high volumes of pharmaceuticals and processed food. Thanks to the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement, South Africa has beneficial trade conditions with EU countries. The lower labour costs are also beneficial for growing business in South Africa.

South Africa exports mostly: mineral products (25.1 percent of total exports, including chrome, manganese, vanadium, vermiculite, ilmenite, palladium, rutile and zirconium, crude and coal), precious metals (16.7 %, mainly gold, platinum, diamonds and jewellery), vehicles and aircraft vessels (11.9 %), iron and steel products (11.9 %), machinery (8.1 %), chemicals (6.1 %) and vegetables (5.4 %). Main export partners are: China (9.7 % of total exports), the United States (7.5 %), Germany (7.1 %), India (4.7 %), Japan (4.7 %) and Botswana (4.3 %). Others include Namibia, the UK, Mozambique and Netherlands.

In 2019, the country was the world’s largest producer of platinum the world’s largest producer of chromium the world’s largest producer of manganese the 2nd largest world producer of titanium the world’s 11th largest producer of gold the 3rd worldwide producer of vanadium the 6th largest world producer of iron ore the 11th largest world producer of cobalt and the 15th largest world producer of phosphate. It was also the world’s 12th largest producer of uranium in 2018.

AIMS International South Africa

AIMS International South Africa operates in Cape Town and Johannesburg, often also with assignments in neighboring countries.

AIMS International Sweden and AIMS International South Africa has a history of solving assignments together and apart from more traditional Executive Search assignments we have also collaborated on attracting highly skilled engineers from South Africa to relocate to other parts of the world where there has been a shortage of talent within special niche markets and special expertise.

  • 4% of Swedish exports go to Middle East & Africa
  • 6% Middle East & Africa represent 6% of global economy
  • 7% of global exports originate in Middle East & Africa

Leonie Pentz

Recently I talked to Leonie Pentz about the market in South Africa, its development, the importance of sustainability and how Leonie with her team incorporates sustainability in their way of working as Executive Search-consultants.

Leonie has 20+ years as a recruitment professional in the Sub Sahara African market and since January 2011 as AIMS International’s Managing Partner based in South Africa. She represented the MEA region on the AIMS International Executive Board from 2016 to 2022 and currently holds the international position of VP Sustainability. She is fluent in Afrikaans and English.

What is South Africa’s economy like?

We are a country rich in raw materials. Recently, metal prices have risen after the pandemic and rose extra in connection with the disruptions in supplies from Russia due to the war. To then recoil, but raw material prices are clearly higher than before the pandemic. Our economy is slower at the moment, we are still feeling the after effects of the pandemic and, although there was a slight upswing beginning of this year, only about 500 000 jobs were added in the last quarter amongst the highest ever unemployment figures (around 37%), so not great news. We are also impacted by the effect of the Russia /Ukraine war, for example fruit exports (20% of all SA export pears used to go to Russia) and many other business areas are under strain. As we are far from most of our traditional trade partner markets, global logistic challenges can affect us greatly. I am hoping the African Trade Agreement will promote more inter-Africa trade opportunities, which might spread the risk somewhat.

As always though, opportunities arise out of chaos and disruption and we do see certain niche industries moving forward and specifically privately owned companies who can quickly adapt to opportunities and movements in the markets, are growing.

How would you describe the Executive Search market in South Africa?

Our market is a hybrid of new and old world. We have a small sophisticated market on the one hand with clients who understand the value the executive search process and partnership brings. At the same time, we have a large general success-based recruitment market who also like to call themselves ‘headhunters’. Due to many corporates bringing in a tender system for recruitment services, they forget to look at years of experience and professionalism of the individuals in the service company. A price war ends in a cheap service. In our industry, human capital is key. Service excellence can only come with open communication, active partnership and a market related price. Our service is inexpensive, but it certainly is not cheap.

How specifically do you handle international assignments?

Over the years, we have worked for many international clients, both looking for staff in South Africa for SA operations or our clients needing staff in a different international location. With the SA team’s excellent relationships and close collaboration forged over many years with our AIMS Offices in more than 50 countries, this is just another Tuesday for us. We have especially close ties with Partners in the MEA region and, interestingly enough have done numerous assignments in collaboration with our Finnish and Swedish Partners. We have a similar work ethic and I love that we share a passion for ESG.

What is the most important advice for a foreign company who wish to invest, establish or increase their presence in South Africa?

As mentioned earlier, there are great opportunities in Southern Africa and the African continent. You will need a long-term view, though. If you are prepared to learn and ‘accept’ the local culture and hand pick your staff and support the achievers, you can succeed.  We have a young, vibrant work force. If nurtured and supported, this can be your organisations’ biggest strength. People think that South African salaries are low, however it is important to understand that while minimum wages for entry level and blue-collar workers are super low, the difference between professionals’ salaries and the entry level is huge. Engineers in SA do not earn any less than in Sweden, for example. I would advise any investor to ensure they have top quality service providers who can support and advise them on local staffing, benefits, labour law and cultural issues.

I believe you have a generalist approach to working with Executive Search. Any areas where you prefer to work in and what type of assignments do you do?

In short, we like to work with clients who like to work with us. We are our client’s thinking partners when it comes to staffing. We do not ‘just do a job’. We truly become ambassadors for our clients. We fall in love with our client companies. We also particularly enjoy working with international clients who are either expanding or starting up in our region. These clients see the benefit of our value-added service approach. We do a lot of work in the general industrial and also service environments. The best fit for us in the South African context is therefore large or medium sized independently / family-owned organisations where we have access to key decision makers who demand value for money. This way we can make a difference and, no matter how difficult or complex the assignment, we find the right solution for our clients.

You were part of the marketing team in AIMS International for a rather long time and you got a good understanding on marketing and communication internationally. What trends do you see in South Africa and internationally when it comes to marketing of our services?

It is no secret that today’s clients and candidates are better informed than ever before.  With a serious leadership crisis and war for talent globally, it is important that a prospective employers’ value proposition is well thought through and in line with their ideal candidates’ personal motivations. Aspects such as mental health, hybrid work opportunities, flexible remuneration and benefits and equality issues are speaking louder than skills vs pay. From professional to executive level, employees have similar needs worldwide, nuanced with their cultural context. A Headhunter needs to be unbiased and inclusive, yet understand the client’s cultural environment and which behaviours will drive the set of values that fits this particular culture. And know where and how to attract and find the talent who will fit this environment.

I know sustainability is something of great importance for you. What trends within sustainability are rising in your region?

Our country’s rich natural resources are its biggest strength and our biggest threat at the same time. We are again slow off the starting blocks here. In a country with the highest wealth disparity in the world, it is tough to keep focus on these topics when 10% of the population goes hungry daily. And this while there are no actual food shortages in South Africa!  Money talks and unfortunately short-term money talks the loudest in our political climate.  Terrible environmental decisions are being made and ‘allowed’ by institutions who should have our best interests and our country’s longevity at heart. We will no doubt see the devastating impact of these actions in the medium and certainly in the long term, especially related to mining and with the rehabilitation of mining not being enforced by the Government.

How does sustainability affect how you handle Executve Search?

There is an immense drive amongst the younger workforce towards an unbiased and inclusive management style. This is possibly the biggest leadership shift that needs to happen, impacting the success of a company’s workforce. We therefore endeavour to identify and place leaders with a sustainability mindset, building it into our own and our client’s DNA. The answer to successful recruitment and retention strategies, building future human value, and therefore total value in your organization, is sustainability. Recruitment (if done correctly) is a key sustainability driver.

Thank you Leonie, always a pleasure talking to you!

Leonie Pentz

Cape Town

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Meet Bernardo Entschev

The United States of America is the world’s largest economy as well as the worlds biggest importer. The USA is also Sweden’s largest export market outside the EU, with a total annual export of goods and services valued at approximately SEK 90 billion (11% of Swedish exports). Approximately 1,600 Swedish companies already have a presence in The US. The ten largest industry sectors provide access to markets larger than Sweden’s entire GDP, and the highest growth is expected within healthcare, business services and software.

The world’s largest importer of goods and services is also the world’s largest consumer market with 331 million people. The USA’s ten largest industries, such as manufacturing, health care, financial services, education and consumer products, each account for annual sales that are greater than Sweden’s total GDP.

Tell us a little bit about you and the team in the US

I was a physician and I worked as a surgeon for 14 years. Then, motivated by my family (and the fact that we were blessed by triplets!) and searching for a better balance in quality of life I became an entrepreneur in Human Capital services. I started as a headhunter in Brazil where I grew our company size 6 times and expanded to 5 regional offices in Brasil. Then I moved to United States and ended up developing the whole operation in the US with offices in New Jersey/New York City and Miami. My largest experience is in the Life Sciences segment but I also work intensively in consumer goods, Industrial, IT and Telecom. Stefano Vetralla is my colleague at the Miami office. He is Italian and immigrated to the US 7 years ago. He was a senior HR Executive in many large companies like HP and Kemet Electronics. He is experienced in consumer goods and Industrial telecom segments.

Richard Schnaittacher is American and he is my colleague in New Jersey/New York City, he is a senior former executive from life sciences and consumer goods segments. He also has an intense international background and lived abroad in countries like China and Israel.

In what areas do you see the highest demand for Executive Search and Talent Management services in the US?

After the Covid 19 crisis the search for leaders with new skills (virtual sales, virtual engagement amongst others) are in super high demand. We have a huge demand in technical sales, specially related to engineering and also in IT transformation. In Board Services and Talent Management we see a huge interest in leadership development programs.

What kind of clients and positions do you work with?

We support all segments but the majority of our clients are in 5 industries: Industrial (chemicals, automation, machinery, packaging), Life Sciences (pharma, animal health, CRO, Medical Devices), Consumer (beverages and food production), Automotive and IT & Telecom (Fintech, Software, mobile phone signal management/transmission towers, hardware and software IT-companies providing service).

It´s been a strategy of yours to work with cross border business, both when working from US and earlier from Brazil. How has that developed over time? (I guess being in Miami is a good position for someone speaking both English, Portuguese and Spanish).

Miami is a great place to help international companies in US and LATAM (Latin America). Miami is also the bridge between US, Latin America and the rest of the World. From Brazil is easier to help international companies in LATAM. So when it comes to LATAM, over the last 7 years we were able to solve positions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and it is getting better and better. Miami is a good location for the LATAM region but the majority of our clients are in US. We help companies all over US but most up North (New York, New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina). And this is because in those states headhunting is a consolidated practice. In Florida still you have some influence from the LATAM region that headhunting is too expensive and they still try to avoid to use it as much as possible, but this is changing rapidly since the market in Florida have been receiving a lot of executives migrating from upper states. From our two offices in US we help companies from China and Europe to find candidates from all over US and sometimes Canada.

How specifically do you handle international assignments?

We always agree with the local partner in every major milestone (evolution reports, candidate reports, formats, content, communication with the client) and we follow what was agreed. The same thing when we generate the business. It works quite well in all cases and make the client comfortable since the process routine is the same in all countries. We have to be cautious of time zones, even within the US and adjust our hours to meet our clients needs.

Do you have any advice for non-American companies who wants to enter the US market?

Yes I do. I recommend always to hire a local executive that knows the local business practice, the market, administrative issues, taxes, etc. We still see many companies sending the first man from their original country. This might be a big mistake unless you also hire at least some local executives or if you worked some years in the US before. It takes time to learn the country etiquette for business and this always helps a lot, having somebody local in the team.

Meet Bernardo EntschevBernardo Entschev



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En kunnig och ambitiös 30-åring söker jobb!

I år firar AIMS International sin 30de födelsedag! Födelsen skedde när fem ägare till konsultföretag i Frankrike, Schweiz, Spanien, Storbritannien och Tyskland beslöt sig för att bilda AIMS International. Det fanns ett ökat behov hos kunderna att göra uppdrag över landsgränserna och näringslivet i Västeuropa såg överlag framför sig en ökad internationalisering i samband med att EU skulle bildas 1993. För att kunna erbjuda internationell rekrytering till svenska kunder anslöt vi oss här i Sverige till AIMS International samma år när vi när vi fick möjligheten. Då hade antalet medlemsländer vuxit till 11. Ja, man talade om medlemmar då. Och verksamheten var ett nätverk, där alla medlemmar hade sina egna företagsnamn.

Kundfokus då och nu

Målsättningen var att för kunderna göra det lika enkelt att få ett rekryteringsuppdrag löst på internationellt plan som i hemlandet. För att göra det möjligt måste det skapas gemensamma arbetssätt och rutiner, samtidigt som det krävdes stor flexibilitet för att lösa olika typer av rekryteringsuppdrag. På den tiden innebar det affärsmässiga samarbetet så gott som alltid att en Executive Search-konsult i ett land förmedlade ett uppdrag till en kollega i ett annat land. Att som i dag arbeta i team över landsgränserna och att i uppdrag söka kandidater över hela världen var ännu inte aktuellt. Men ett tydligt kundfokus, god anda och samarbetsvilja fanns i AIMS International från början, vilket kan ses som stadgan i det där nätverket som med åren blev en allt mer integrerad organisation, som brandade om till det gemensamma AIMS International. En viktig förutsättning som är sig lik är att gott arbete görs när marknader och kundbehov förstås samtidigt som Executive Search-konsulterna är vana att arbeta tillsammans. Allt för att uppdraget ska löpa tryggt och säkert enligt plan.

AIMS International i dryga 50 länder

Sedan födelsen har AIMS International vuxit till sig och blivit stor! Idag finns vi på alla kontinenter och i ca 50 länder. Senast anslöt sig ny partner i Kenya för att stå till tjänst med rekryteringar i Östafrika. Fler tjänster har adderats och omfattar idag även Board Services och Talent Management.

Under uppväxtåren har det så klart funnits både bra och mindre bra perioder. Det finns dock alltid en vilja att blicka framåt mot nya utmaningar och AIMS International är väl rustat för att möta och bistå kunderna med de behov som de har. Här kan du läsa vad Bernardo Entschev, vår President skrev i samband med 30-årsdagen.

Så här har du en kunnig och ambitiös 30-åring som söker jobb! Välkommen att ta kontakt om du vill diskutera något närmare med oss.

En kunnig och ambitiös 30-åring söker jobb!

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Trends in employee performance evaluations 2022

I have earlier written about the benefits of coaching and how it can boost your talent development. See the previous articles on and

Most of the organizations conduct regular performance or developmental discussions based on historical performance. Whether this happens as an annual discussion, on a continuous process or based on project deliveries there are some trends 2022 which have become more and more important to be aware of. I have made following observations when discussing with managers and HR directors in various companies.

Leadership in a remote work environment

Working remotely is not a new thing. However, most of the managers used to meet their employees regularly or at least few times per year. The new issue arising out of increase of off-site working is that you may have more employees you have never met physically, and your only contacts are through digital channels.

This leads to some questions

  • How to evaluate the overall performance (what to deliver and how to deliver) when you have mostly met your employees only digitally?
  • How to give feedback on desired leadership, or employee, behaviors which are often designed to ordinary office and physical day-to-day interactions between the people?
  • How to give fair and solid feedback for the new employees if your company is lacking good on-boarding processes?

I have earlier proposed coaching and mentoring as tools to ensure the expected performance – discussing the targets, creating transparency and engagement, and ensuring employee motivation. It also helps in performance related discussions since it will be a natural continuation of earlier discussions. Ultimately the successful and ongoing dialogue between employee and manager will make annual performance dialogues obsolete since everything has been already handled.

Improving how to give immediate feedback

What other actions should companies take? I believe that a successful company train the managers and employees to engage themselves into continuous discussions on performance related challenges. This means that we need to learn how to share immediate feedback, be transparent and create an environment and culture where the employees are not left alone.

I also believe a successful company needs to revisit the evaluation criteria of the competency framework. This could mean considering the impacts of distance working and the expectations related to digital way-of-working. For example, distance working might set new requirements to be proactive and do more ad-hoc calls to sort out possible misunderstandings.

Coaching and mentoring programs

The solution what many clients are using is to provide coaching and mentoring programs to their employees to support and ensure individual performance. Most of the time coaching is provided by a direct manager, but more and more often external performance coaches are relied on to deliver these services.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized in supporting companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new way-of-working and providing Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more about the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as Executive Search and Talent Management Consultant in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC). Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporations as a HR leader with a focus on Talent Management practices.

employee performance evaluations

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Ensuring effective onboarding through mentoring

I have previously written about coaching as a development tool and method and how it can benefit the improvement of the organizational performance . In this article I will look further into how companies ensure a fast and high-quality onboarding process by applying mentoring and coaching as a tool.

Based on this HBR article approximately 70% of Fortune 500 companies provide new employees mentoring support after joining the company. The recent studies evidence that these mentoring programs are clearly providing substantial benefits in terms of increased performance.

Individually designed programs

So how are these programs effectively established and how to ensure that you maximize the benefits? We have designed several onboarding programs including mentoring programs for senior experts and leaders and want to share below our experiences.

The critical question is if the onboarding program is optional or not. We have seen that some new managers simply do not see the need for a full program, and they decline mentoring (and also some other parts of onboarding programs). However, it is finally for the company to decide how the onboarding and introduction is managed. Our experience, supported by the research, is that well-designed onboarding programs will increase the performance which itself speaks in favor of having the program as a mandatory for everyone. At the same time for the senior leaders, we recommend highly individualized programs which are based on their specific onboarding challenges.

Include at least 3 mentoring meetings

We believe that a solid onboarding program includes at least 3 mentoring meetings. In practice this means that the new manager will be provided an experienced peer or senior managerial support in addition to support provided by his/her ordinary line manager. The mentor is acting voluntarily and providing his or her professional experience in the relevant field and many years of experience of company culture, products, services, decision making and collaboration through internal networks.

Enable faster introductions to the company culture

The main task for the mentor is to enable the fast introduction to the company culture and “unwritten/unsaid rules”. This might include sharing experiences on what kind of challenges other newly employed managers have faced. It is good to note that even mentor acts on the behalf of the company, not for his or her own interests, a successful mentoring relationship is also benefiting the mentor when providing new insights and outside-in perspectives to him or her.

Onboarding programs with clear targets

Onboarding program which includes mentoring should have some clear targets and evaluation in the end. This ensures that the program continues developing based on the needs of the new managers

To sum up, including mentoring into onboarding programs will increase the companies to reach high-quality results within a short timeframe.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized in supporting companies broadly when working with talent management issues including building new way-of-working and providing coaching, leadership assessments and executive search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as a Partner in AIMS International Sweden. He is a member of Talent Management and Automotive & Mobility Global Practice Teams. Mikko works and is a certified leadership coach (ACC) and has worked as coach and mentor in many organizations. Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on talent management practices.

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Meet Cristina Favero

In our series of interviews with AIMS partners and colleagues in other countries, the turn has come to Cristina Favero who is a consultant at AIMS International Italy. She talks about what it is like to work as an Executive Search consultant in Italy and how her background in retail and international management serves as a good foundation to help her clients find key people.

Swedish-Italian trade relations (in brief)

Sweden exports goods worth SEK 38 billion and services worth SEK 8 billion a year to Italy and is the country’s 12th largest export destination for goods. The most important import goods are machines, food and motor vehicles and our most important export goods are paper products, metals, machines and motor vehicles. In 2019, there were 148 Swedish groups established in Italy, with a total of 29,658 employees. In the same year, 228 Italian companies with 8,807 employees were active in Sweden.

Hi Cristina, Nice to see you! You work with Executive Search at AIMS International Italy. Can you tell us a bit about your background and what was it that attracted you about Executive Search?

Hello Göran, nice to see you too! My background is in Economic and International Management, I started my career in Sales in the FMCG industry when I joined Reckitt Benckiser in London, working on one of the major retailers in the UK. From there I made a horizontal move to HR when I chose to move back to Italy with Unilever, where I spent a few years in various roles spanning from Leadership Development to HR Business Partnering in both the local Italian offices and in the corporate headquarters in the Netherlands. I joined AIMS International Italy in January 2019, as I have always been attracted by the world of Executive Search and Talent Management. As an HR professional, I am passionate about understanding and contributing to the vision of the companies I work with by providing them with the best talents, developing them and supporting their organisation needs. I feel energized by new challenges, discovering new approaches and ways of doing things and being a Consultant in this field allows me to achieve this purpose.

What is Italy´s economy like?

Italy has been for a long time a country with low growth, almost always lower than that of other European countries. This was due to low productivity, which was caused by many aspects such as political instability, bureaucracy, rigid labour market, aging population and difficulty for investors to make investments in Italy. Recently we are in a moment of recovery, with more openness towards digitalisation and innovation. The government is experiencing a moment of stability and prestige thanks to President Draghi, the vaccination campaign is at a very good level so the pandemic situation is under control. After a difficult 2020, 2021 will be a very bright year with a strong growth in GDP and a strong development of exports.

How would you describe the Executive Search market in Italy?

The Executive Search market in 2021 is booming, with a major upturn in investment in human resources after a pandemic-related lull. The economic growth and the rebound after the 2020 slowdown is leading many companies to hire managers and specialists. Many Italian companies are investing in order to ride the wave of recovery and to complete the generational and managerial transition of family businesses.

We are seeing international companies enter the domestic market, especially in the FinTech and technology sectors. Many companies are changing hands and being controlled by Private Equity funds and international conglomerates. The market demand is very strong both on the domestic front and from international investors.

How specifically do you handle international assignments?

International assignments are very important because they strengthen our reputation and image in the market and because international groups are often linked to the clients of our partners around the world. We deal with them with great care and attention. Over the last 25 years the company has worked with many Scandinavian companies as the founders’ professional experience started in Scandinavian consultancies and many of the early collaborations were with Swedish, Danish and Finnish companies. This has brought into the company a lot of culture and habit in dealing with Nordic cultures.

What makes AIMS International Italy one of the absolute leading companies in the country in Executive Search?

AIMS in Italy started with a team of professional and motivated consultants and has built over time a professional client-centred approach, which has always been served and managed with great care and sensitivity.

A stable shareholding structure and great harmony between the partners has allowed the development of a very clear and defined strategy, stable and consistent and able to bring the company after 25 years to a very high level of reputation and perception of quality. The investments in people and tools, anticipating market trends, has made the difference.

Today the company has a structure of headhunters who support partners and senior consultants made up of 20 experienced consultants specialised in various market sectors. One of the largest and most qualified research structures in Italy.

In addition to a rigorous methodology and resources specialised in candidate sourcing, we have also developed great expertise in assessing the personality and skills of potential candidates, significantly helping client companies choose the best people for them.

What are the most important advices for a foreing company who wish to establish or increase their presence in Italy?

The domestic market is big and attractive for many international newcomers. The business environment is now much better than in the past and many companies are successfully entering the Italian market. The political and infrastructural climate is definitely favourable today so I would definitely encourage foreign companies to establish their presence or keep investing here in Italy.

As a consultant you work with many clients within consumer markets. What other areas do you work with and what type of assignments do you do?

Indeed, my main area of expertise is in the Consumer industry, which is the one I am most passionate about. However I also work a lot in the recruitment of Managers in FinTech, technology and industrial sectors. I have also grown fond about Digital Transformation and everything connected to it, so I am also very active in the search and selection of the new emerging roles within the digital sphere, in the talent assessment of professionals in this world and in supporting companies in their digital turnaround.

Being part of the marketing team in AIMS International you get a good understanding on marketing and communication internationally. What trends do you see in Italy when it comes to marketing?

I think marketing today can no longer be distinguished from digital marketing and in this sense personalization is key. The online and social media have acquired more and more importance as consumers are always more connected but less easily accessible offline and hence need to be reached with highly personalised and almost tailor-made messages and contents. Moreover, the human dimension and the human experience remain at the heart, with more and more attention and sensibility to company purpose and values such as trust and transparency. One of the latest trends also sees employees actively involved in the promotion of their own company, becoming true ambassadors for both potential customers and new talents.

In AIMS Italy you created your own app for communicating with candidates. What trends do you see for Executive Search in the future?

We give great importance to the candidate experience and implementing innovative tools and technologies is very important to us in order to speed up processes and give very targeted and timely answers to clients. Today’s Search and Selection market is very competitive and fragmented and sometimes not so capable of discerning between consultants and their ability to give effective answers. We place ourselves on a highly specialised and managerial level of assignments, mainly working with the top management of international or Italian industrial groups, where the consultants’ skills and company know-how can really make the difference. We carry out our work with a consultancy approach, so that the top management can find in us a true partner with whom to discuss and address business issues.

I believe that the Executive Search trend will continue to be positive in the coming years because of the need for companies to have qualified consultancy support in identifying their leaders, and today’s trends of insourcing recruiters, RPOs and other international recruitment centres located in low-cost countries will not be able to fully compensate for this need.

Cristina Favero

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AIMS International Sweden | Tullgränd 4, 5th floor, 111 30 Stockholm

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