Why executive search is crucial to attracting top talent
In this article, brought to you by Arnold Ash, CEO Jon Arnold explains why partnering and integrating with a leading talent advisory business is the key to identifying, attracting and retaining top industry talent
EGR: Tell us about Arnold Ash and your journey so far.
Jon Arnold (JA): Arnold Ash was established 10 years ago when it became clear the industry needed to take a more bespoke, longer-term and partner-based approach to recruitment. As an executive recruitment and integrated talent advisory business, our work is based on building long-term partnerships and supporting our clients to achieve their strategic goals by hiring and retaining the best talent in the market.
Our continued industry success is the result of word-of-mouth referrals and our long-standing reputation. Our clients know that we deliver, and we are referred time and time again. Our client base has grown exponentially in recent years, particularly being trusted at the CEO, C-suite and leadership levels.
EGR: What are the core differences between executive search and recruitment?
JA: In many recruitment companies the focus is on transactional relationships and delivering at high volume, but executive search takes a different, more tailored approach. It is not a one-in, one-out process. We might build a relationship with a client and not place a candidate into their business for the first 18 months to two years of the relationship. It is about developing a long-term understanding of the business, ingraining oneself and pipelining the right talent, so you’re ready to deliver when instructed.
We are specialists and work very closely with our clients. They often give us sensitive and confidential information so there are high levels of trust. Often the strategy, product and talent pool are the pillars of our client’s success. We consult, advise, push back, manage upwards and work with our clients on creating solutions, solving problems and ultimately ensuring we continue to add value across the talent space.
EGR: How important is executive search for operators and suppliers in today’s betting and gaming industry?
JA: Executive search is essential to differentiate yourself from competitors. In this industry, the products are similar and the margins between competitors are often quite small, therefore a key differentiator is the people and, in this instance, the leaders. Executive search enables businesses to attract the best leaders and consult on how to retain them.
EGR: What are the big challenges for executive search companies?
JA: It is hard for companies to stand out from their competitors. If you haven’t worked with a business before there is always a level of uncertainty, so staying ahead of the curve and giving potential clients the confidence to engage with you isn’t always easy.
It’s about visibility, credibility and profitability. You must be visible, and people need to know about you to give you a chance. Then, you must deliver, which gives you credibility, and it’s at that point you have to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. The visibility part is tough, to be on someone’s radar, stand out and gain their trust. Arnold Ash has a strong reputation for delivery, good references and many case studies and testimonials, which helps us achieve exactly that.
EGR: Are there specific roles which are harder to fill or find suitable candidates for?
JA: Each process has its own challenges but it’s our job to have the knowledge of the top talent in the industry. Some vacancies might have more challenges than others and on occasions it can be tough, but after spending 20 years overcoming problems, I wouldn’t say there are any that I’m yet to find a solution for. Our ability to deliver efficiently improves year on year.
EGR: You work with a lot of leading companies within the industry, what is the key to a successful partnership with a client?
JA: Ultimately, your clients appreciate when you work as hard as they do. It is about delivering excellent results, continuously improving and celebrating each other’s wins in an environment of trust, transparency and total commitment. We treat every client we have with the utmost importance and work as hard as we can for them, just as any of the direct reports within their business would.
EGR: What is your view on recruiting senior people from outside the industry?
JA: Recruitment from outside the industry is a great idea if the balance is maintained. While it might be easier for large-scale, tier-one businesses to bring in talent from external industries, it could be tougher for smaller or medium-sized businesses that have less support around them to help people integrate. It is a great idea but, at the same time, we need to protect and retain the top talent already in the industry.
‘Outside recruitment’ from the technology sector has been the most fruitful. We have brought in people at chief technology officer (CTO) level from outside the industry, particularly from e-commerce and fintech, and it has worked very well. Digital banking, e-commerce and fintech are quite mature industries when it comes to digitally led businesses.
EGR: Is it proving difficult for companies in gaming to retain talent?
JA: Retention in the gaming sector is becoming increasingly difficult. We are now in a position where demand for quality leadership is outweighing the supply for leadership roles. The most influential employees are those at the executive leadership level. More than ever, people are focusing on getting the best leaders into their businesses and it is creating challenges with retention. Proactive headhunting is becoming much more prominent as a result.
EGR: Where do you expect executive search and recruitment within betting and gaming to be in five years’ time?
JA: The gambling industry is very innovative and evolving from one of gaming to entertainment, similarly Arnold Ash will continue to invest and evolve to ensure we remain relevant. In my opinion, the industry will grow and prosper in the next five years and, as a result, it is going to need to train and develop many of its people to become top leaders.
I expect Arnold Ash will be busier than ever and five years from now; we’ll be working with even more businesses that have grown and flourished within the entertainment space.
Jon Arnold founded Arnold Ash Group in 2013 as a specialist executive search recruitment consultancy in the fields of sports betting, gaming and fintech. Arnold Ash work with a number of the leading operators and suppliers within the global betting and gaming industry.
Arnold Ash is EGR’s Executive Recruitment Partner. They support ambitious organisations to identify and attract industry leading executive talent. Find out more here.