Shaun Springer - search firm chief executive

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0700: Kiss the kids goodbye and am told to be quiet and go away. Kiss wife

goodbye and get berated for waking the kids.

0730: Once at the office, I spend an hour reading the news on the internet,

wading through the Financial Times and looking at my post.

0830: I then have an hour to do my own headhunting. I adore the job and

though I have less and less time available, I refuse to give it up. I work

on trading across the capital markets, from interest rates to index

arbitrage. As a breed, I like traders and as an ex-trader and ex-broker

myself, I feel an affinity for them.

Traders tend to be the first on the block if the axe is wielded. It doesn't

matter if they've had five good years if they're followed by five bad

months. Understanding their books gives me a great insight when explaining a

candidate to a client.

0930: Meet with a visiting client. I try to attend all client visits both out

of courtesy and so that I can co-ordinate the company's obligations. It

ensures a consistency as well as a regular supply of free coffees and

excellent biscuits.

Client meetings should be a two-way form of education. In this case we have

worked with the client previously and have a good understanding of its

teams' and products' strengths and weaknesses, both real and perceived.

We insist the client tell us the full reasoning behind the intended

recruitment. This is where history (and trust) play such an important role,

as there can be sensitive political issues that need to be addressed

directly without pussy-footing around.

Conducting a search for a client means representing that client to the

market. Many candidates have a preconception, if not a misconception, of a

client and it is part of our brief to show the full story. Both client and

potential employee must have their strengths and weaknesses exposed to each

other's scrutiny prior to contract.

1100: I interview a candidate. This is a skill that requires practice and

faith in one's judgement. I always believe that on the flip side of a

strength lies a weakness. If you look for what you consider the plus side,

usually you find the downside as well.

Body language plays a large role, as does eye contact. I repeating questions

in different formats, looking for consistency. Knowing the candidate's

market and their reputation helps enormously, so I try to ensure that I always do.

1200: Lunch with a managing director of an investment bank. Networking is

essential for a headhunter. The business is not just about placing people.

It's also about being a conduit for information and advice.

The adage about free lunches means that if I get, I should also give.

Headhunters are privy to confidential information from both individuals and

institutions. However integrity can be lost in a day, while taking a

lifetime to prove.

The dividing line between respecting confidentiality and

giving accurate information and advice is well- defined. But it takes a

well-tutored technique to handle such conversations comfortably.

1330: Answering emails takes a good two hours out of my day. I tend to use

'Outlook' as my 'to do' list. The change in email activity in our office

over the last 2-3 years has been phenomenal. It's reached the point where,

if I don't have a memo in email format, then it hardly gets addressed.

My PA rules my diary with the cruelty of a third world dictator. I wish

she were as nice to me as she is to my callers. A perfect day would end with

nothing in my inbox and my 'sent items' all filed away. One day, maybe.

1530: I spend a lot of time listening to candidates talk about themselves and

other people. Listening to the market is the bulk of a consultant's activities.

Knowledge of the players, large or small, senior or junior, is what gives us

an edge when times are busy and what sorts the men from the boys when times are

hard, like now.

When conducting a search, accuracy and speed are paramount to the client. I

believe that headhunters are treated like restaurants. It doesn't matter how

many times you've had a good experience with one, the first time you have a

nasty taste in your mouth is the last time you go there. Each chance is your

last chance in one of the most competitive industries in the world.

1630: I meet some of my 12 consultants. Hardly a day goes by without such a

conference, regarding a potential search, or a client visit, or progress on

an ongoing search.

As often as not we have two consultants working a search

- for instance our consultant covering origination will work with our

consultant covering Italy on debt origination for Italy. This allows for

lateral opportunities for the client and candidate.

Our office is designed like a dealing room and at least 13 languages are

spoken. As an ex-broker I have developed the ability to hear many

conversations at once. Unfortunately I no longer understand most of them.

1900: The staff often filter out round the corner about now and I like to

join them for a wee dram. The office goes out socially together a few times

a week, or even more if I put my card behind the bar.

2030: Get home, read baby girl story about 10 little piggies who got foot and

mouth. Get told off by wife. Make a few headhunting calls that couldn't be

made during office hours.

2230: Pop on the to internet to play chess with insomniac from Turkestan or

precocious 4-year-old from Mexico who trounces me before he goes to

kindergarten.

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