Recruiter targets a new breed of leader for the digital age

Recruitment company Hourigan International wants to get creativity a seat at Kiwi boardroom tables and embed it into senior leadership roles.

The firm, founded in 2002 and headquartered across the Tasman, has traditionally focused on leadership in the agency sector. It’s placed some big-name execs like Adam Good in his previous role as executive director of digital innovation at Colenso BBDO, Justin Mowday at DDB, where he is now CEO, and TBWA\Whybin’s Toby Talbot and Todd McLeay.

Now it’s targeting the “creative leadership tribe”: agile, commercially-literate people who can lead the charge as businesses become more consumer-centric, says CEO Anthony Hourigan.

The company says in the shift to digital communication, companies are under immense pressure to respond to consumers who are demanding new experiences and deeper engagement with brands.

That means they need leaders who can solve problems through creativity and innovation, he says. “They’re very comfortable with this tremendous transformation with digital and data that’s hitting businesses around the world.”

The company wants boards and senior leaders in businesses on both sides of the Tasman to overcome conservatism and be more entrepreneurial and consumer-led, he says.

“We want [them to]be more focused on this digital and new media world, not be drowned by it but to seize those opportunities and drive through those changes.

“We tend to have boards which are extraordinarily conservative, risk averse and compliance based. That’s good but the balance needs to be restored. We like to get a balance of individuals who are creatively led and understand what this new reality is, which is impacting every business in this part of the world.”

It will specialise in finding talent for Kiwi companies across senior management, board appointments, marketing, digital, design, sales, innovation, creative and media positions.

There’s a misconception that candidates for senior roles who have backgrounds as creatives aren’t focused on revenue, says Hourigan. “The people we place, whether a CEO or MD or chief marketing officer, they are top line revenue growers. There’s an incorrect perception that because you’re creatively led and entrepreneurial and have been in a consumer business, it’s not about revenue growth. It is about revenue growth.”

He says it’s ironic when boards and CEOs hold up the likes of US tech entrepreneurs Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos and Virgin boss Richard Branson as top leaders, then contrast that with conservative behaviour in their own business.

Among Hourigan’s services are coaching and mentoring, finding and developing new talent, culture and designing organisational structures. It recently recruited Mark Jenner as its Auckland-based managing partner after a global search.

Jenner is the former head of digital at Telecom and has also held roles as marketing director at Guinness Anchor in Kuala Lumpur, business development manager with Heineken in Amsterdam and marketing manager at DB.

Hourigan’s Kiwi chair is Colenso co-founder Roger MacDonnell, now a director at TVNZ and Image Centre Group*.

Some of the companies it is partnered with include News Limited, Telstra, McDonald’s, NAB Wealth, NBN Co, Frucor, Colenso, DDB, Whybin TBWA, Saatchi & Saatchi and OMD.

*Image Centre Group includes Idealog and StopPress publisher Tangible Media.

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