Some short notes from a conversation I just had with Robert Damon, president, North America, for Korn/Ferry:
- â€œThings are better today than they were yesterday,â€ Damon says. The strongest area: Mid-market companies, in all industries, bringing in about $50 million to $2 billion. Thatâ€™s because, he says, they lack bench strength, are lean, and have held off hiring â€œand canâ€™t hold off any more.â€ On top of that, theyâ€™re often private-equity owned and those companies are looking to change management to drive change in companies â€œthrough these murky times.â€
- CFOs who can control costs are in demand, as are CMOs who can grow businesses.
- As far as Korn/Ferry itself, â€œwe did our streamlining so weâ€™re stable,â€ Damon says. â€œFor us as a firm, things have leveled off. I see green shoots. August and part of September will probably be a little slow because itâ€™s vacation time. But going into the last quarter, we should see some momentum, and I feel optimistic about the 1st quarter (of 2010) being a good quarter on a relative basis.
- â€œWhat weâ€™re seeing in the marketplace is companies are looking to embrace the whole spectrum of talent management — not just search â€¦ weâ€™re the only search firm that has morphed into talent management,â€ he says, referring to services such as onboarding, coaching, change management, and assessment. â€œThe other firms talked about it, but theyâ€™re really fakes.â€
â€œNowâ€™s the time to [be] bold,â€ Damon says. â€œGreat companies now are looking at ways to capitalize on the economic turmoil to look at breakout strategies and acquire human capital talent and bring in the best and the brightest for the future. Being proactive about the talent management function in this turmoil is what really good companies are thinking about.â€