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Forget the Media Hype: Senior Executive Opinions on the 2010 Economic Outlook

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Business and Economic Outlook 2010
We asked senior executive BlueSteps members who are currently part of the AESC/BlueSteps Executive Search Network, their opinions on the predicted economic recovery in 2010, and received a mix of cautious optimism and market realism. One member, Darrell W. Gunter, believed that the rising number of shipments in the US carried by UPS and FedEx was a good indicator of increased trade and movement of goods. This attention to positive indicators was similar to Sales Executive Andy Horn’s response, who was excited about the market energy and new opportunities for leadership.

Another senior executive who agreed the recession has encouraged creative ways to lead and grow organizations, is CEO Andy Harris. Harris outlined his organization has remained flexible throughout the recession in order to capitalize on the new economic environment, "With or without economic recovery, our company has identified many opportunities to expand and grow our sales and profitability, and develop our people and business relationships. We are very optimistic for the longer term." It is this approach of constant evolution that will ensure companies are ready to take advantage of any upturn; after-all many organizations will have cut the work-force dramatically and will need to rebuild successful teams in order to handle the additional business.

'It is hard to fall off the floor'

It is important to note, however, that many of the positive responses came from a comparison to the harsh reality of the recent recession, rather than a strong belief in current market strength. One executive remarked that the only way is up, saying “You have to be [positive]... it is hard to fall off the floor”, while a VP in Marketing and Communications, Todd Nelson, suggested that it was just too early for victims of the recessionary staffing cuts to share a positive outlook. Peter Altshuler, a Senior Marketing and Creative Strategist expanded on this comment, stating that;

“The markets are never an indicator of economic health….Stocks may have gained, but unemployment has risen, debt has soared, and trade has declined. Unless jobs are created, the cash available for non-essential goods will remain stagnant or become even scarcer, and that will fuel further reductions in employment as margins deteriorate in sectors such as food, healthcare, and other basic industries…the numbers look good but the reality is far more sobering.”

The reality of the market conditions cannot be correctly positioned by the figures as many of them are influenced by fluctuating circumstances, such as the injection of government cash. However, as we begin to see turnarounds such as the repayment of TARP funds in the US or other govenmental loans around the world, it is clear we are reaching a greater level of stability (albeit from a low starting point).

AESC Executive Search Consultants Hold Positive Outlook for 2010

Although well aware of the harsh market conditions outlined above, the opinions shared by the member search firms of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) demonstrated confidence in the senior recruitment industry gaining momentum following the downturn. The 2010 AESC Member Outlook Report found that 91% of global search consultants held a neutral to positive outlook for the executive search business in 2010, up from 41% in Dec 2008 and 64% in June 2009.

Let’s hope that the economic recovery is not stalled by the overwhelming international debt, decline in trade, huge unemployment, or the many other issues associated with an economic downturn, and that the executive search industry’s positive outlook is realized. Considering the role of executive search firms is to advise and guide the top corporations around the world regarding market conditions and talent management, as well as placing the fiercely sought after senior executives in the top positions, their opinion comes from an excellent standpoint.

Media hype regarding excellent or poor market conditions should be replaced with the opinions like the ones featured here - there is a strong optimism for improvement because we have reached rock bottom. The road to recovery is not going to be easy but according to those steering our economies out of the recession, we can look forward to a steadying economy and slow rise in 2010 followed by an exciting 2011.

See a selection of the responses by senior executive BlueSteps members to the question “Are You Optimistic for 2010?”, and join the discussion at the Executive Search Network on Linkedin or Twitter.

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This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.

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