»In conversation with Ralf Nejedl«

You were a successful manager in the telecommunications and IT services industry for many years. What fascinates you now about personnel consulting?

I look back on the successful and formative years I gained working within the corporate sector, for which I am very grateful. In addition to the technical responsibility, I had the opportunity to work with many extremely competent and committed people from across different countries. This has always been a source of great motivation and enthusiasm for me. Executive search and personnel consulting now enables me to deal with different people and their individual talents in an even more focused way. In doing so, I can now, as a service provider, give something back to my industry and the companies from which I came from.

Where do you see your special skills in this area?

I can put myself in the shoes of our clients - after all, I held this position myself for the longest time. And in my last position at Deutsche Telekom in particular, it was important to find the right people for the right tasks. I developed a good feel for this there - and, incidentally, also the conviction that personality is at least as decisive a factor as professional qualifications when it comes to successfully filling a position.

What was the key factor in your decision to join AltoPartners?

First of all, the people across the AltoPartners family are simply great entrepreneurs who take their responsibility very seriously and are one hundred percent committed to it. That convinced me. But above all, the international orientation of the unique global network combined with my technological background, is a great combination.

With the keyword »internationality« we are also very close to »diversity« …

… and this is an enormously important topic. Of course, first and foremost, we need significantly more women in management positions. But we need to think much more broadly about diversity. Age, educational background and professional experience, nationality, ethnic and cultural imprints, but also social origin, right down to seemingly incidental personal preferences and aspects of mindset. In the annual Diversity Leaders Ranking published by the Financial Times, leading technology companies such as Infineon, Expedia and Microsoft are among the top 10. From this, we can see a connection between diversity and corporate success - which has long been proven by studies. And above all, I see it as our duty as consultants to find candidates with both the best possible professional qualifications and correspondingly diverse backgrounds in order to make our clients successful.

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Ralf Nejedl - r.nejedl@altopartners.de

In your opinion, what else does a modern HR consultancy have to do today?

Beyond the actual search assignments, it must increasingly be a matter of entering into an open dialog with our clients in advance. We should clarify what they specifically expect from a particular position. How should the position be integrated into the company? And what should make the person who fills it tick in the end? There are enough examples of companies that simply hired a young digital chief officer to drive digital transformation and then had to quietly end this experiment after two or three years because he remained an island in his position. This is the kind of thing we need to think about with our customers before we start looking for candidates.

Speaking of digital transformation, the first digital natives should be slowly making their way into management positions, shouldn’t they?

Yes, of course, they have already started this transition, and I observe this with great interest. For example, younger managers often act faster and more efficiently because they get data directly from tools and apps and don’t wait for a prepared presentation. Such behaviors break down structures and support transformation processes.

How can companies win over precisely this young generation in today’s “war for talent”?

First of all, I think this term is completely exaggerated. It’s all about creating working environments and areas of responsibility that really do seem attractive to the talented and enthusiastic. I think that these young people have a somewhat different perspective on career and self-fulfilment than was the case in previous generations. For example, in a study by the Federal Association of German Management Consultants, almost 60% of candidates under the age of 40 cited extensive home office options as the most important decision criterion when choosing an employer. They attach much greater importance to a healthy work-life balance. Above all, they like to question old traditions and hierarchies and want to think and act more independently and self-determined. And I think that’s a good thing. Companies can also benefit from this if they approach it the right way. And I see it as part of our job to support them in this.