The executive career track

40 under 40

Caldwell Partners and MNP LLP Announce the Return of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40®

February 2, 2017 -

TORONTO –  February 2, 2017 – Caldwell Partners International Inc. (TSX: CWL) and Presenting Partner MNP LLP today announced that the re-imagined and highly anticipated Canada’s Top 40 Under 40® Award Program has relaunched. Visit the website for nomination details and timelines. (more…)

In this ever-evolving landscape of innovation and change, it is critical that leaders are able to stay agile and responsive.

Leading through times of change and disruption

November 4, 2016 -

In today’s highly technological environment, the companies with the biggest competitive advantages are the ones constantly evolving. As our world continues to move toward a digitally dominated landscape, it is becoming increasingly important for leaders to effectively navigate their teams through times of change. Unfortunately, not enough organizations are adequately prepared to do this. < !–more–>

Forbes recently revealed that research published by Lee Hecht Harrison found that the majority of U.K. businesses anticipate workforce changes to continue to unfold, yet over 25 percent feel senior teams don’t possess the skills or experience needed to successfully deal with change management. Part of the issue is that the majority of companies have failed to adequately prepare leaders in this area. This is concerning for businesses because, as the source also indicated, not being able to effectively manage change can cause employee disengagement and turnover.

Although the cited study was focused on U.K.-based organizations, one of the biggest factors fueling workforce changes in that region is one that affects businesses everywhere: technology. As artificial intelligence, robotic processes and automated technology continue to evolve, our machines are becoming more sophisticated and intelligent, which is changing the way we work – and the kind of leadership we look for.

“Technology is disrupting the way we work – and the type of leadership we look for.”

Not just about IT
According to research conducted by the World Economic Forum, 35 percent of the skills currently important in the workforce won’t be five years from now. Leadership in this age of technology isn’t about having technical skills and experience so much as it is about having a forward-thinking mindset – an ability to prepare for change and readiness to take risks.

To be a great leader in the age of technology, you don’t necessarily need to know how to write code or be well-versed in programming languages. What is needed, though, is a sound understanding of the role technology has – both in the world as a whole and in the business – as well as how to identify, use and apply the innovations in the most beneficial and valuable way possible.

As new technologies are developed, introduced and worked into business models, it is creating a new paradigm of leadership and management. In an article for Information Age, Richard Pillar recently explored this concept, pointing out that it is not exactly easy for leaders to reshift their beliefs and behaviors during times of disruption. Therefore, those who are able to comfortably let go of the deeply rooted patterns and mindsets, and both willing and able to embrace new ones at a moment’s notice, will be more effective.

Risk taking
It is important that leaders are not fearful of the technologies and changes before them or be resistant to leaning into new territories. In this world that is constantly evolving,they must be able to embrace opportunities that these innovations present, rather than avoid taking risks with them and be held back by the threats they present.

It is also helpful if leaders are able to encourage others to do the same. For example, instead of looking down on someone for failing at something new, it might be better to look at their intention and reward them for taking risks. Employees shouldn’t feel too scared to try new things because that is what is going to get businesses ahead.

Leaders need to be OK making a choice when they don't know the outcome.Leaders need to be OK making a choice when they don’t know the outcome.

Writing for World Economic Forum, Linda A. Hill revealed that creativity will be one of the top three skills to have in the future workforce. It is this type of quality that our machines, though capable of almost everything we are, still lack. Emotional intelligence is also important. In times of change and disruption, it is critical to have someone capable of thinking outside the box, someone who is able to connect the dots in a way most people wouldn’t even notice.

“Leading innovation is not about getting people to follow you into the future, it is about getting people to co-create with you,” Hill explained.

Strong communication skills will always be an important quality for leaders. During times of uncertainty especially, being able to keep everyone on the same page and steer them where they need to go goes a long way. Furthermore, you want teams to be comfortable asking questions, raising concerns and being open and honest about situations, so the right progress can be made.

Being an effective communicator also requires strong listening skills; great leaders are capable of putting their own biases, thoughts and opinions aside and fully considering the perspective of someone else. They know they are not always right and are willing to put their egos aside to fuel progression.

Finding – and developing – leaders who are capable of seamlessly navigating through times of disruption can be the difference between an unexpected shift in the workplace causing progress or chaos.

About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

What happens to expatriate executives after their overseas assignments draw to a close and they return home?

Why companies with expat executives shouldn’t overlook the repatriation stage

September 29, 2016 -

Executives who relocate to other countries face a number of challenges while on foreign soil. A 2013 study by Cigna Global Health revealed that these issues run the gamut from family matters to securing quality health care and benefits – but what happens after professionals’ overseas assignments draw to a close and they return home?

“Executives and their families often struggle to re-assimilate.”

Writing for Human Resource Executive Online, contributor Michael Thompson observed that a lot of companies tend to view repatriation “almost as an afterthought, thanks to a tacit assumption that ‘coming home’ is the easy part of a posting abroad.” However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, executives and their families often struggle to re-assimilate into their old lives, from both personal and professional standpoints. One study published in the International Journal of Human Resource Management by researchers Margaret Linehan and Hugh Scullion even went as far as to suggest that repatriation may ultimately be even more stressful than expatriation.

Personal issues
When people return to their home countries after an extended period of living elsewhere, they frequently expect everything to be as they left it, even though they know rationally that time doesn’t stand still and thus, things must have changed. It’s reasonable to posit that the psychological toll of going back somewhere that’s supposed to be familiar and encountering strange elements would be more damaging than trying to get accustomed to a foreign culture that’s expected to be different. This is especially the case if the corporate support offered as part of expatriation (assistance with schools, medical preparedness, settling in, etc.) isn’t available upon repatriation.

Of course, executives and their families shouldn’t forget that in addition to their countries of origin changing during their absence, they themselves have probably changed too, absorbing aspects of their home-away-from-home cultures that may be at odds with the cultures they left. Chances are they’re not even aware of how much they internalized while abroad until they begin the process of repatriation.

“In China, when you’re listening to people, you make a kind of grunting sound, which is how you convey, ‘Yes, I get it,'” explained Mark Doll, who lived in China for 30 months while on assignment for his employer, as quoted by Human Resource Executive Online. “But my wife warned me, ‘You’ve got to stop saying “ugh” all the time,’ because she was afraid people back in the States would think that I was being rude.”

The culture clash can also affect members of executives’ families. Thompson cited the example of an executive whose daughter’s teacher, unaware that her family had been living in a remote part of the globe until repatriating to the United States, became concerned after the girl didn’t know what ZIP codes were.

Cultures vary across the globe, which can make re-integration a tricky process for repatriated executives and their families. Cultures vary across the globe, which can make re-integration a tricky process for repatriated executives and their families.

Professional challenges
As well as getting used to the country they left months or even years ago, executives also need to get back up to speed with what’s going on back at the office. Even though they worked for the same company while they were away, chances are good that at least some of the processes and policies they’re returning to weren’t upheld in the country where they were on assignment. Staffing changes might also have occurred in their absence, so they may find themselves working alongside – and even reporting to – unfamiliar faces. Additionally, it’s unlikely their positions will be exactly the same as the ones they held abroad, so they need to get used to a new role on top of everything else.

Needless to say, all of these factors can combine to make for a bumpy re-integration period. According to the Linehan and Scullion study, female executives have a particularly tough time adjusting to life back home “because of their pioneering roles.”

“Some organizations simply don’t have repatriation programs in place.”

How can companies help?
Enterprises eager to give their executives stationed in foreign countries every chance to succeed often bend over backwards to ensure these professionals have what they need to transition as smoothly as possible. However, according to the Cigna Global Health study, the same can’t be said during the post-assignment phase, especially among smaller companies or those that have few expat employees. In fact, the scores assigned to employers’ post-assignment efforts by expat executives surveyed as part of Cigna’s research were more than four-tenths lower than those given for the pre- and mid-assignment stages. Some organizations simply didn’t have repatriation programs in place, while others did but failed to adequately publicize this fact to the employees who could have benefited from them.

Moreover, 59 percent of expat employees said they were unsure whether their employers tracked how they fared after they returned home – which, as the study’s authors pointed out, could be perceived as lack of interest. With their resumes bolstered by their work abroad, executives may consider leaving to work at other companies that will place a greater value on their expertise.

“When I was repatriated, I came back to a new boss and HR didn’t have procedures in place to re-integrate me,” recounted marketing analytics executive Bret Leece, as quoted by Human Resource Executive Online. “Had a bit more process been in place, the company could have extracted more value from my intense and productive international experience. As a result, I decided to move on to another company. My new employer was the one that really benefited from my earlier posting abroad.”

The bottom line
Companies tend to be quite good at giving employees the information and other resources they need before heading off on assignment and while serving in international roles, but many drop the ball when it comes to continuing this support in a repatriation capacity. Although moving back home after time away isn’t the same as relocating to a foreign country with an unfamiliar culture and alien customs, it comes with its own challenges that shouldn’t be minimized or, even worse, entirely overlooked. Companies that fail to acknowledge this reality run the risk of losing some of their most valuable workers to other organizations.

About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

Which degrees provide graduates with the best leadership skills?

Which degrees produce the best leaders?

September 26, 2016 -

Holding a degree is an essential component of securing an executive position. But which degrees produce professionals with the best leadership qualities? A recent study, reported on by Fast Company, set out to answer that question and the results were rather surprising.

The skills breakdown
The research indicated that professionals with degrees in humanities performed better in a handful of areas critical to leadership performance than MBA graduates. The study ranked MBA degree holders against various undergraduate degree holders in eight primary areas:

  • financial acumen
  • business savvy
  • compelling communication
  • driving execution
  • driving for results
  • entrepreneurship
  • influence
  • inspiring excellence

Humanities undergraduates secured high rankings for five of the eight specified skills. They most notably excelled in compelling communication, driving results and inspiring excellence. Those same competencies were only mid-range skills for professionals holding an undergraduate degree in business. However, they excelled in financial acumen and business savvy – where humanities notably lacked.

“Holding a degree is an essential component of securing an executive position.”

Somewhat surprisingly, engineering undergrads found themselves at the bottom of the leadership-equipped pile – with weak scores in six skills sets and only mid-range rankings for the remaining two (financial acumen and driving results).

These results were shocking when considering the findings of recent research by Forbes contributor Christian Stadler. According to Stadler, 27 percent of Fortune 100 CEOs hold a degree in engineering or science. Not to mention his projection that engineering majors will be at the head of the CEO race in coming years due to their tech-minded nature in a digitally-advanced era.

Education: An accurate leadership indicator?
The undergraduate findings were surprising in themselves but what about MBA holders? The research indicated that undergraduates performed better than MBAs in interpersonal skills, entrepreneurial skills and results-driven practices.

So, where did MBAs excel? Predictably, these graduates were well-equipped in areas of financial acumen. They also showed promise in their business savvy nature and strategic decision making. However, when it came to things like coaching, results and visionary leadership skills, MBAs fell notably short.

The latter has much to do with real-world skills. MBAs are often forced to step out of the business world and into school in order to secure their degrees. While there is a lot of valuable learning in the classroom, the training is conceptual at best. Hence why MBAs ranked low in terms of visionary leadership. This skill in particular is something that can only be learned and improved upon via real-world practice.

“While there is a lot of valuable learning in the classroom, the training is conceptual at best.”

The takeaway
Overall, the findings indicate that degrees may not be the best indicator of leadership ability. Despite this, professionals vying for executive positions should be mindful of the biases that come attached to their degrees.

When approaching an interview, job candidates must recognize the skills that their qualifications are known to historically lack and make up for these capabilities with the relevant responses and experiences.

For organizations undergoing the executive search and recruitment process, this is where an executive placement firm can add undeniable value. Skilled consultants can recognize when a candidate’s degree genuinely indicates proficiencies or deficiencies in certain skill areas and when the degree is partly irrelevant to the ultimate decision.

The ultimate takeaway? While education is an important stepping stone on the path to executive leadership, the area of focus is not always a direct indicator of business success. Every executive candidate presents unique circumstances which cannot be generalized. Organizations must look past degrees to fully understand whether a professional is truly equipped for leadership.

About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

CEOs need to take these four actions to deal with disruptive forces

Four actions CEOs can take to deal with disruptive forces

September 12, 2016 -

Market disruption is a term used frequently these days among executive leaders, and it has become synonymous with innovation. A recent McKinsey study actually identified common factors of disruptive innovation which highlighted the need to re-think leadership now as the global economy continues to shift. To adapt to these shifts in the global markets, Forbes contributors Karl Moore and Mary Larson examined four leadership actions that CEOs must take to deal with these forces of disruption. < !–more–>

The four actions executives need to take
These are the top priorities for CEOs to stay ahead of external disruptive market forces:

  • Identify Critical issues: Above all else, CEOs need to identify the most pressing issues that could become detrimental to corporate value in their markets. Early awareness of disruptive market forces is found by engaging with consumers, investors and organizational stakeholders.
  • Engage with appropriate people: CEOs need expertise around them to fully understand the issues that face the company. They need to talk to the best people and then trust their own informed opinions.
  • Put them to work: Deploy these team experts to provide their insights into solutions for the potential risks facing the company. This involves engaging marketing, manufacturing, customer service and various other department heads in devising strategies to deal with the disruptive forces.
  • Engage with stakeholders about strategy: To understand how these strategies will impact the entire organization, structured dialogue across all levels of the company is necessary to ensure a coherent strategy.

The importance of CEOs handling disruptive forces
Inaction in the face of disruptive market forces poses a huge risk. The goal is a combination of not letting these disruptions change the organization's strategies and vision, while also adjusting to change as it happens – at least before it engulfs the industry, as firms like Uber, Netflix and AirBNB have done.

As disruptions become threats, leaders need to be able to pinpoint exact strategies to drive positive corporate change, and there is evidence to show that employees at all levels are more attuned to the forces of change than ever before. That makes the need for engaging all personnel in corporate strategies essential in executive leadership now.

It is equally important, though, that the preparation of these strategies translate directly into critical decisions to identify new opportunities. According to the McKinsey report, strategies and future opportunities are all too often forgotten as 70 percent of time spent by the executive board focuses on immediate data with quarterly reports, audits, regulatory compliance and budgetary concerns.

Ultimately, the role of the CEO and his or her board is to develop and execute strategies that drive business improvement and align with the market and define new directions that lead to success in the long-term, not just for short-term quarterly profits.

About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world's most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

Certain leadership characteristics can be invaluable in terms of achieving and maintaining corporate success.

4 leadership traits to propel a company toward success

April 27, 2016 -

While some CEOs strive to get their companies on the Fortune 500 list (or to improve their rankings if they’re already on it), others have their sights set on more modest accolades and achievements. Regardless of whether they run small enterprises or corporate juggernauts, all business leaders have one thing in common: They want their companies to be successful. Certain characteristics can be invaluable in terms of achieving and maintaining corporate success, while other attributes are more likely to hinder individuals’ executive careers – not to mention the viability of the companies they lead. (more…)

Are companies better served by two people at the helm?

United or divided: Should one or two people serve as chair and CEO?

March 21, 2016 -

Over the past few years, some companies have separated the roles of chair and CEO, some have combined the two positions and others have followed tradition by keeping the breakdown of titles and duties the same as always. So, what are the pros and cons of separate vs. combined, and is one approach better than the other across the board? (more…)

For an individual in an entry-level position, the path to leadership has several checkpoints along the way.

Rising through the ranks: Ascending to management and leadership

January 18, 2016 -

For an individual in an entry-level position at an organization who aspires to rise through the ranks, the path to executive leadership – and claiming his or her very own chair in the C-suite – has several checkpoints along the way.  (more…)

A list of some of the most notable leadership and management books of 2015.

Notable leadership and management books of 2015

December 31, 2015 -

In a recent two-part article series, we took a look at some professional resolutions that could help corporate leaders kick off 2016 on the right foot. The motivation and sense of potential that a new year brings can prompt many people to seek out books related to their resolutions – guides to weight loss, collections of financial tips, pointers on becoming more organized, to name but a few – and those who aspire to bolster their leadership skills are no exception in this regard. Forbes and The Globe and Mail both recently published lists of notable business books that came out in 2015, many of which contain insights and advice that could prove useful to executives eager to better themselves from a professional standpoint in 2016.


Professional resolutions are just as important as personal ones going into 2016.

Professional resolutions for 2016, part two

December 30, 2015 -

With the year quickly drawing to a close, many people are making personal resolutions intended to benefit their lives and the lives of those around them in 2016. The end of the year is also a time when executives should be thinking about their professional resolutions – namely, ways to improve upon themselves as leaders and bolster their companies’ operations. Coming up with meaningful and inspired business-focused resolutions can be tricky, so in part one, we put forward the following ideas:


What are your professional resolutions for 2016?

Professional resolutions for 2016, part one

December 29, 2015 -

The month of December is filled with merriment in many cultures and faiths, drawing to a close with a period that involves both reflecting on the past and planning for the future as the Western calendar prepares to flip over to a new year. It’s said that January was named after the Roman god Janus, who had two faces – one looking forward to the year ahead and one looking backward at the year that had recently come to an end. With that in mind, it’s fitting that this time of year is when many individuals make resolutions intended to improve their lives and those of the people around them.


All of the individuals on Fortune's Businessperson of the Year List have made their mark.

Deconstructing Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year List, part two

December 24, 2015 -

Fortune Magazine recently released the 2015 iteration of its Businessperson of the Year List, which weighed a number of aspects such as profit and revenue increases, corporate stock performance, shareholder returns, ratio of debt to capital, strategic initiatives, business influence and leadership style.


Fortune recently released its 2015 Businessperson of the Year List.

Deconstructing Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year List, part one

December 22, 2015 -

As the year draws to a close, publications such as the Harvard Business Review and Fortune are beginning to release their annual rankings of standout corporate leaders.


Boosting the number of female leaders makes good business sense.

4 steps toward rectifying gender inequality in the C-suite

December 14, 2015 -

The number of women in the American workforce exceeds that of men, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the gender breakdown among members of the C-suite.


What leadership traits can get executives to the top of the corporate ladder?

What traits are key for successful leadership? (Part two)

December 11, 2015 -

In part one, we detailed a number of traits identified as crucial for leadership success by executives and other business experts such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, author and business consultant Peter Economy, Insureon CEO Ted Devine and Skybox Imaging CEO Tom Ingersoll. In part two, we add a few more voices to the conversation.


What traits make corporate leaders - and their companies - truly great?

What traits are key for successful leadership? (Part one)

December 10, 2015 -

There are almost as many different opinions of what makes a good executive as there are leaders and business experts. We took a look at a few of these individuals’ outlooks, mixing examples and insights from both world-famous leaders and people who aren’t quite household names – or, at least, not yet.


We compiled a list of questions that leaders may want to ask themselves.

4 questions leaders should ask themselves regularly

December 3, 2015 -

For leaders, it can be all too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day rituals associated with running a business. Often, executives are so tied up in everything going on that they are unable to step back and look at the big picture – and even those who recognize the need to do so may not know where to start. We compiled a list of questions that leaders may find helpful in terms of taking the first step.


What do modern-day executive expats look like?

Breaking down the modern-day expat executive experience

October 6, 2015 -

Many executives travel for business, but some go a step further, relocating to a new country for months or even years. Employers eager to give these professionals every chance to succeed supply them with a range of resources intended to help them not only assimilate, but flourish. However, in the end, it’s executives themselves who determine whether they succeed or fail in their expatriate roles.


What does the future hold for a family business? Succession plans have the answer.

Making family business succession plans a success

August 7, 2015 -

Family-owned businesses are known for many things, but spanning generations isn’t necessarily one of them. In fact, a recently released EY Global report noted that the majority of family businesses fail to stay operational for more than one or two generations before closing their doors for good, although there are some that beat the odds. (more…)

Not all leadership lessons can be taught in the classroom.

Leadership lessons you don’t learn in school, part two

June 24, 2015 -

In part one, we introduced the idea that although grade schools and postsecondary educational institutions are instrumental in equipping students with the tools they need to succeed in the workforce, some lessons can’t be taught in the classroom. Instead, they are learned on the job – or, as leadership coach and advisor Roy Osing phrased it, “in the trenches.”


There are some leadership lessons you don't learn in school.

Leadership lessons you don’t learn in school, part one

June 19, 2015 -

Grade schools and postsecondary educational institutions play an important role in preparing people to go out and succeed in the “real world.” Such an assertion is virtually indisputable – but no matter the industry students join when they leave school and enter the working world, they’ll probably realize there are some things that simply can’t be taught in the classroom. Rather, these aspects must be learned in the field and on the job. (more…)

People love social media, so why isn't corporate social networking more popular?

Leaders are responsible for bolstering enterprise social network use

June 12, 2015 -

Over the past decade or so, social networking has revolutionized how society communicates. It seems as if almost everyone has a social media presence these days, from friends and family to celebrities and even CEOs of well-known companies. (more…)


8 qualities of a CEO with a stellar reputation, part two

May 13, 2015 -

As we acknowledged in part one, corporate leaders with positive reputations enjoy numerous professional benefits as a result. Specifically, they are likely to stand out among the crowd to management recruiters and executive search consultants, and they often earn the favor of the public. A recent survey by public relations firm Weber Shandwick polled 1,700 senior executives who represented 19 countries to identify eight qualities that contribute to a positive CEO reputation. The first four, which were examined in detail in part one, are as follows: (more…)

A corporate leader with a positive professional reputation enjoys a whole host of advantages.

8 qualities of a CEO with a stellar reputation

May 12, 2015 -

A corporate leader with a positive professional reputation enjoys a whole host of advantages, from getting a boost during the executive search and recruitment process to currying favor with the public once he or she is appointed to a leadership position within a company. But what exactly does it take for a CEO to establish a stellar reputation?


If any of these leadership behaviors sound like you, it might be time to stop and make some changes.

4 leadership behaviors that are executive recruiting turnoffs

March 10, 2015 -

At Caldwell Partners, we are on the lookout for the cream of the crop, and they deploy a diverse range of tactics to ensure the shortlist of candidates they put together is an optimal fit with a company's needs.