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Execs With Global Experience Are Among the Most In-Demand

By Erin White

International experience, a security background and regulatory-compliance expertise are among the most in-demand skills in the executive job market this year, according to separate forecasts by executive-search firms Christian & Timbers and Trilogy Venture Search.

As U.S. companies continue to expand their overseas operations, and non-U.S. companies develop their businesses in the U.S., firms want to hire executives who can help them accomplish international goals, recruiters say. In addition, regulatory and legal requirements, especially those prompted by Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, are creating more demand for executives who are expert in those areas. Companies are also looking to hire executives who can bolster corporate security.

With companies more focused on the logistics of operating on a global scale, executives who understand international markets are in demand, says Charles Pappalardo, managing director of Trilogy Venture Search, Burlingame, Calif. One such in-demand position is vice president of global manufacturing, which generally pays a salary of $180,000 to $300,000, he says. This executive finds the best, and often most cost-efficient, places to make a company's products.

A similar hot job is vice president of global logistics, which typically pays between $200,000 and $350,000. This person figures out how to move a company's products around the globe, going from raw materials to distribution of the finished product. "A lot of times we're manufacturing component parts in two or three different places, then getting them into other places to be assembled," Mr. Pappalardo says. "The logistics network becomes very complex."

Companies are also looking for chief financial officers and human-resources executives with global expertise, says Brian Sullivan, chairman and chief executive officer of Christian & Timbers in New York. A "global CFO," for instance, can navigate the financial complexities that arise from doing business in different countries. A global human-resources executive understands local hiring customs and cultures around the world.

Security concerns continue to create demand for executive hires. Mr. Sullivan says two hot security-related positions this year are director of homeland-security business development, and chief security officer. The first position helps companies build relationships and win contracts from the U.S. government's Department of Homeland Security. A chief security officer not only keeps a company's technology systems secure, but also oversees security for company buildings and grounds. For this position, a military, Federal Bureau of Investigation or Secret Service background is a major plus.

Mr. Sullivan says compliance concerns are causing increased demand for several different positions, including a "forensic" chief financial officer and a "narrow and deep" public-company board director. A forensic chief financial officer is a financial executive who doesn't just crunch numbers but who can spot potential fraud and abuse. Narrow-and-deep board members bring specific expertise to the board rather than just general knowledge and a famous name.

"This whole area of compliance continues to roll along like a snowball down a hill," Mr. Sullivan says. "First it was Sarbanes-Oxley, now it's Spitzer [New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer] and company." He adds, "You're also finding that board members now are way more hands on than they ever had been in the past."

Christian & Timbers also identified jobs that aren't likely to be in demand this year. They include executives and brokers in the insurance industry, which has been buffeted by Mr. Spitzer's probes. Demand for executives in the airline industry is also likely to remain cool as the airline business continues to suffer. Another not-so-hot job now that the U.S. elections are over: political campaign managers.

Article from – January 2005