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Makan24-7
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Postby Makan24-7 » Thu, 06 Sep 2007 10:57 pm

Dear forum members,

There are many of you wise owls out there and I would like to get your thoughts on my situation.

I am thinking of moving on in my career in the same functional area I'm in right now which is global strategic sourcing/procurement. I have spoken to several executive search firms, all of whom are ranked as the world's most elite executive placement firms according to Vault.com for director and VP level positions.

All of these recruiters, having spoken to me over the phone and seen my resume, are very excited and seem pretty keen on me.

The problem comes in, usually in later conversations, when I'm asked for my age and current package which I usually avoid until my 2nd conversation with these recruiters. I've observed this as a commonality with the 6 firms I have spoken to. I don't know whether it's my current package that's too high, too low or whether I'm just not the right age - which really would p1$$ me off coz that would be age discrimination.

To give you a bit more background, I'm 34 yrs old. I have 8 years of procurement, supply chain, sourcing experience, coupled with 2+ of years of strategy consulting and private equity experience. I have been managing teams of 10-16 global sourcing managers and have had a job with global scope/responsibility for the past 6 years. I possess an MBA from one of the top 10-15 ranked schools in the world. My current package is ~S$180k per annum with bonuses of ~25% of my base salary. I don't think it makes a difference that I'm Malaysian Chinese who's actually a US-based employee on an 18-month assignment to Singapore but who knows, maybe you wise owls out there may see something here.

I really appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this. I think it's something to do with my package or my age but I could be wrong.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 07 Sep 2007 3:32 pm

Good bit of data there. However, a few things are puzzling. These executive placement firms...... Are these locally based offices of the firms? Or are they US or UK based? World rankings usually don't take Singapore into consideration when talking about HH's (their reps here are dismal at best).

I have to assume that they are either US or UK offices as you indicated your CV doesn't include the stuff that all local HH variants want, e.g., age, race, marital status, nationality, religion, etc., etc.

You also indicated that you are US based. You did not indicate that you are a Permanent Resident or at least have a H1B working visa for the US. If this is not the case, then I would see a potential problem that reads something like this:

They (Recruiters) have Asian requirements but as you are "Local" and "Young" you are overpriced in the eyes of their Asian clients who would only see you as a 'Malaysian Chinese'. If you were holding a US passport then the fact that you might be an ABC is not relevant. I think you are a victim of perception and while you would like to think it is age, I personally think it's a combination of both age and 'nationality'. Contrary to your feelings, I tend to think your nationality is a bigger issue (coupled with your age and requirements). Sure it's against the law (but that depends on their client and where the position is) unless you are here in Singapore or Malaysia or most any Asian country for that matter. It's only in the western countries that have anti-discrimination laws - of course I don't have to tell you that!

I would like to hope I'm wrong. But.......

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Postby Makan24-7 » Fri, 07 Sep 2007 9:36 pm

SMS-insightful as always! Thanks a bunch. I appreciate it. You've affirmed my worst fears - ones that lingered at the back of my mind and yet dared not admit - I'm being treated as a overpaid, young "local" upstart.

I spoke to exec search team leaders from US and Asia (HK & Singapore) offices who actually found and approached me. My 1st and sometimes 2nd conversations are always with the US offices which they then connect me to their counterparts in the Asia offices.

I am surprised and disappointed that the recruiters do treat me as a "local" since none of them that I've spoken to in the Asian offices are actually Asian. In addition, none of the hiring managers for the positions I'm discussing are actually based in Asia - that's what I was told.

Each of the recruiters know that I'm on an expat assignment to Singapore and expected to return to the US in 2008. I've also told them that I don't report to anyone in Asia and 6 of my 16 team members are located in the APAC region.

I suppose telling them that I am willing to make a lateral move in terms of compensation for a new challenge and upward mobility can be perceived as me admitting that I'm an overpaid, young local upstart - which I have not done, of course.

If anything this reaffirms my belief that if I want to move around here, I have to be recruited in the US for positions out in Asia

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 08 Sep 2007 9:13 am

That is just about spot on.

Interesting enough, in my stronghold industries (O&G/Petrochem) I see regional engineers (Aus & Kiwi's) having to get hired for positions in Asia from the respective UK/US offices and seconded to the region as the local variants of the same companies will not give the the necessary expat perks (project based employment). It is a strange beast out here isn't it.

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Postby Makan24-7 » Mon, 10 Sep 2007 10:44 am

C'est la vie in Asia I suppose. I've overheard a lot of conversations amongst managers in coffee shops like Starbucks and this is what I observe - most managers in Singapore view their people as liabilities, not assets. Sad....

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 10 Sep 2007 11:33 am

Makan24-7 wrote:C'est la vie in Asia I suppose. I've overheard a lot of conversations amongst managers in coffee shops like Starbucks and this is what I observe - most managers in Singapore view their people as liabilities, not assets. Sad....


I think that's why the current buzzword is so popular here (I refuse to use it at all). "Human Capital" which, when translated to laymen's language means nothing more than "disposable assets"

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Postby Makan24-7 » Sun, 07 Oct 2007 2:01 am

Well, I suppose I have to take some of my words back - something did pan out in the end. I'm not there yet but at least it restores some faith in the entire executive search process in Asia.

One of the banks did actually show an interest and I went through the interview with the HK-based executives very quickly and they confirmed immediately that I would be interviewing with the executives at the HQ in Europe.

They did make it very clear from the start that I was the only candidate without any experience in indirect strategic sourcing in high finance and was the youngest by far. The shortlist, I've learnt has been whittled down to 4 and after some subtle poking and prodding, the only Asian left in the process. Not that it should or would make any difference but all these put into context, I won't be holding my breath.

Point is, this restores some measure of belief that there is hope for recruiters here yet.... Or maybe it's because I've interviewed with a Hong Kong-er, an English and a Dutch.....

I dunno - you wise owls there tell me.... All I know is that I'm definitely learning and slowly adapting..

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 07 Oct 2007 7:45 pm

Glad to hear that things are starting to move. However, don't start celebrating quite yet! :) I wonder though, if you are the only Asian & the only one without indirect strategic sourcing in High Finance, why? iIf important to the position that is. (being the only Asian obviously is not relevant - technically speaking anyway - that ground we've already covered). Is that expertise pertinent to the position? They either see a lot of potential (maybe due to your youth and some very astute interviewers) or a potential savings ("upstart" against an older, more established contender who is also asking considerably more scratch).

I will say this however, I used to belong to a US based association of recruiters with a worldwide reach of 400 companies and over 1800 consultants worldwide. We had a conference one year in Hong Kong. While up there for the three day conference, I had a chance to meet a large number of recruiters based there (Both Hong Kongers and Expats working in Hong Kong). I was much impressed with their abilities and their work ethics which are a lot better than Singapore. This also may have been due to the fact that HK has been the financial centre of Asia for many years. While Singapore would like to usurp that title it hasn't quite done so yet.

Anyway, you would seem to be a fast learner to me as you don't get to be a young upstart by being slow! :cool:

Good Luck.

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Postby Makan24-7 » Mon, 08 Oct 2007 6:57 pm

Haha, SMS, excellent points - make total sense to me. Like I said, I won't be holding my breath on this.

One thing I didn't mention is that they were also upfront about why they interviewed me - someone not pre-packaged. After the interview they were pretty blunt too and said something to the tone of

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Postby Makan24-7 » Mon, 08 Oct 2007 7:00 pm

Haha, SMS, excellent points - make total sense to me. Like I said, I won't be holding my breath on this.

One thing I didn't mention is that they were also upfront about why they interviewed me - someone not pre-packaged. After the interview they were pretty blunt too and said something to the tone of

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Postby Makan24-7 » Mon, 08 Oct 2007 7:00 pm

Haha, SMS, excellent points - make total sense to me. Like I said, I won't be holding my breath on this.

One thing I didn't mention is that they were also upfront about why they interviewed me - someone not pre-packaged. After the interview they were pretty blunt too and said something to the tone of

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Postby Superglide » Mon, 08 Oct 2007 7:17 pm

yes....

Said something to the tone of....?
If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.
Pablo Picasso


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