Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three construction executives join UK Green Building Council

Three leading executives in UK’s construction industry – Bill Bolsover, John Frankiewicz and Daniel Labbad – have accepted the invitation to join the UK Green Building Council’s (UK-GBC) statutory board, reports

Bolsover is the chief executive officer of Aggregate Industries, Frankiewicz is the head of Willmott Dixon, and Labbad leads Lend Lease Europe. All three CEOs are founding members of UK-GBC and have been actively involved in the work of the Council’s task groups.

Bolsover said, “UK-GBC plays a vital role in helping the industry get to grips with sustainability and I’m keen to help it go from strength to strength.”

Frankiewicz said, “Cutting carbon from our built environment has never been more prominent on the political agenda and I’m looking forward to being part of the UK-GBC board in making a telling contribution to driving forward real change.”

Labbad said, “I look forward to contributing to the future of the UK-GBC, building on the considerable work and achievements so far.”

UK-GBC chairman Peter Rogers said: “I’m delighted to welcome three such significant industry figures, all of whom have demonstrated both their organisational and individual commitment to the sustainability agenda and the UK-GBC. They bring a wealth of experience, which will prove invaluable as the UK-GBC continues to grow its membership and impact.”

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Executives plan bigger IT investments

40 percent of 1,400 chief financial officers polled in a new survey are planning to increase their companies’ IT spending. Independent research firm Robert Half Management Resources conducted the survey, asking the executives, "In which one of the following areas are you most likely to invest once the economy improves?"

40 percent of the executives said that they would invest in new IT systems or upgrade existing ones once the recession subsides. Of these, 18 percent said they would spend more money on new products or service lines, 14 percent will invest in new locations or real estate, while six percent plan to proceed with mergers and acquisitions.

Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, says: "As companies emerge from the recession and become more profitable, they will begin to focus on shoring up critical business applications and technology infrastructure. While finance executives may remain cautious about making bold new expenditures, they understand that updating their IT systems can help improve risk management, increase operational efficiency and ensure regulatory compliance… IT investments encompass not only hardware and software but also reflect the human resources necessary to manage these initiatives."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

UK executive positions filled twice as fast as the rest of Europe

The average vacancy for executive jobs in the UK lasts 36 days, according to a report from Experteer. Compared to executive positions elsewhere in Europe, UK vacancies are being filled twice as fast.

In France, it takes 134 days on average to fill an executive role. In Germany, it takes 89 days. The vacancy shelf life is somewhat shorter in Switzerland and Italy; 66 and 59 days respectively.

"These figures underline stiff competition executives face in securing top jobs and the importance of swift judgments in deciding whether to apply for a role,” says Torsten Muth, managing director of “The economic downturn means many executives are re-entering the jobs market for the first time in decades and need to reassess their methods of finding new work."

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

UK executives worried about staff retention

UK executives worry that their companies may not have what it takes to hold onto their most talented employees once the recession is over, according to a new executive survey from Deloitte.

65 percent of the executives polled said that they are highly or very highly concerned about their firms' ability to keep the talent once the economy starts to bounce back.

Deloitte experts suggest that businesses should use strategies similar to those used in consumer branding if they want to recruit and keep the best candidates on the job market. Executives and recruiters need to present a good image to both potential hires and their existing staff.

"A strong employer brand strategy that goes beyond recruitment campaigns and a desire to be seen simply as an employee of choice will be crucial if companies wish to engage and retain employees that generate a disproportionate amount of value and organisational strength," said Eddie Barret, Eddie Barret, a director in Deloitte's human capital consulting practice, adding that companies need to focus on training, development and community involvement programs.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Fixing the executive compensation system – Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group has released a new white paper – "Fixing What's Wrong with Executive Compensation" – that puts a critical spotlight on the current executive compensation system.

Analysing changes in executive salaries between 2007 and 2008 at more than 150 U.S. companies with more than $5 billion in revenues, BCG analysts discovered a disconnect between the compensation of high ranking executives and their company's overall performance.

While 94 percent of the companies had negative total shareholder return (TSR) last year, about 40 percent of those companies paid their chief executive officers more than they did in 2007. The average CEO salary level dropped compared to the previous year.

BCG experts argue that it is no longer enough to reiterate the demands that businesses 'pay for performance.' The problem, they say, is that existing forms of long-term incentive compensation for executives are hardly ever linked to significant long-term performance metrics. They merely prompt most executives to focus on the annual cash bonus and, as a result, they narrow their focus on short-term results and near-term returns even if the latter are unsustainable in the long run.

Gerry Hansell, senior partner in BCG's Chicago office and co-author of the white paper, said: "The idea of paying for performance isn't new. The very compensation systems that many criticize today are the product of nearly two decades of efforts to achieve precisely that goal."

Frank Plaschke, a partner and managing director in BCG's Munich office, added: "Too often, managers are rewarded for beating plan targets for, say, increasing sales, growing earnings per share, or improving their P&L statement. But such metrics either reward growth irrespective of its impact on profitability or reward profitability but with no consideration of how much capital was invested to achieve that goal. They also encourage companies to retain earnings when, from a value-creation perspective, there might be better uses of that cash -- for example, returning it to investors in the form of dividends."

To solve the problem of executive compensation, BCG experts propose the following principles:

  • Emphasize the long term
  • Reward relative performance
  • Measure performance that executives can directly influence
  • Focus on value creation
  • Minimize asymmetries of risk

"The 'rules of the game' are changing," Plaschke concluded. "Executive compensation has to change along with them."

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Executives push for new approach to risk management – Accenture study

85 percent of corporate executives reported the need to overhaul their company's approach to risk management in order to improve business results based on the lessons learned in the current economic downturn. This was the main finding of Accenture's 2009 Global Risk Management Study, released earlier this week. Ineffective integration of of risk, return and capital issues was cited as one of the main problems with the risk management functions in the executives' companies.

The consulting firm polled 260 chief financial officers, chief risk officers and other senior management staff whose duties include risk management at large companies in 21 countries, and also found that 40 percent of the executives' companies had already taken steps to to increase their investments in risk-management capabilities over the next six months. Another 31 percent of the executives reported that their businesses are considering an increase in their future investment in risk management capabilities.

Almost a half of the executives said that their company's risk management function is very much involved in strategic planning (48 percent) or investment and divestment decisions (45 percent), but only 27 percent said the same of their company's objective-setting and performance management functions, indicating a lack of integration of the existing risk management and performance management processes.

Dan London, managing director of Accenture’s Finance & Performance Management practice, said: “Executives could improve their organizations’ performance and position themselves for economic recovery by linking and balancing risk management and performance management to aid their decision-making and increase shareholder returns. Being effective at this also requires companies to integrate their risk management capabilities enterprise-wide.”

The common problems with risk management cited by the executives in the study were:

• Ineffective integration of risk, return and capital issues in decision-making (identified by 85 percent of respondents);
• Lack of alignment between the company’s strategies and its risk appetite (85 percent);
• Insufficient enterprise-wide risk culture (82 percent);
• Inadequate availability of timely risk, finance and business data (80 percent);
• Lack of integration and aggregation across all risk types (78 percent); and
• Ambiguous risk responsibilities between corporate and business units (78 percent).

“The current economic downturn is the ultimate stress test of a company’s risk management function, and the lessons learned can be leveraged to restore confidence and create a stronger, better, integrated and aligned platform for improving performance under a variety of business conditions,” London said. “Leading companies recognize that an expanded, integrated risk-management program supported by technology that allows management to monitor risk-related factors across a company is not just a protective tool but one that can provide companies with a competitive edge in a constantly changing world.”

Ovum shared similar findings this week. In a report titled "Managing Risk During an Economic Downturn," an Ovum analyst argues that reducing a company's focus on risk management during an economic crisis is a false economy.

Ovum's report also reveals that businesses are rethinking their approach to risk management and focusing on giving it an even more central role in their companies' planning and management.

"The financial crisis has provided a very high profile example of how poor risk management practices can severely impact not only a business, but also a whole industry sector,” says Helena Schwenk, author or the report and senior analyst at Ovum. "While the banking system recovers and readjusts from the crisis and moves to a more tightly controlled and regulated risk management environment, other industry sectors are advised to take heed of the risk management lessons learnt from this painful episode.”

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Executive jobs still in demand in public sector and medicine

Executive jobs are still very much in demand in medicine, life sciences, and the public sector, according to a new survey from Experteer. At the same time, the economic crisis has resulted in a decline of executive role vacancies in other industry sectors.

Executive job vacancies in the public sector and medicine rose 13 and 10 percent respectively, while jobs in consulting and real estate have been on a steady decline since November. Executive jobs in financial services and life sciences have stayed relatively stable.

The latest study included a sample of 6,500 vacancies for senior executive positions advertised in the UK in the last six months.

“While there is no denying that it has never been tougher to secure a senior position, senior vacancies are still in existence in particular industries,” said Torsten muth, managing director of “Executives in the consulting and real estate professions should consider carefully whether their experience might be relevant to other job functions or other disciplines.”