10 September 2019

Temple Insights for September 2019


Spring has sprung and we wanted to give you an update on the market as we head into the final few months of the year.

With the elections done and the new financial year rolling over, we have seen a significant uptick in the volume of roles and in particular the amount of movement at senior head of function levels.  Regulatory, media, political and consumer scrutiny of business continues, and this is driving many companies to bolster their corporate affairs capabilities.  Whether you support the statement by the US based Business Roundtable which sought to expand the purpose of a corporation, or you back Milton Friedman’s traditional view of shareholder primacy, the fact is modern businesses cannot operate successfully in this market without effective stakeholder engagement.  As one senior practitioner said to me recently, “If you are not part of the conversation, it is happening without you.”  Despite some forecasted economic doom and gloom, we are seeing organisations realise that they need to invest in their corporate affairs capabilities to help maximise their reputation, improve their commercial performance and support their share price.

Greenfields Corporate Affairs roles

To this end, we are working with a number of organisations hiring their first ever full corporate affairs function.  For a variety of reasons, whether it be through acquisition or growth, market change or suddenly finding themselves in the spotlight, CEOs and Boards have decided that they can no longer skate under the radar and need to professionalise the function.  There are commercial as well as reputational drivers at play.

In these roles, we are also seeing demand for practitioners who have a number of strings to their bow.  Where companies can’t build large teams, they are hiring more senior practitioners who are capable of more.

We see this as only a good thing for our industry.  It continues to help elevate the importance of the function and in relatively greenfield roles, there is ample scope for corporate affairs to deliver exceptional value to a business quickly.  Some of these roles are also regional APAC roles being based out of Sydney, which is exciting to see.

ESG – it’s a capital trend

As we mentioned in our last newsletter ESG is a shareholder issue and is increasingly impacting on share prices and thereby on corporate decision making.  As a result, corporate affairs and IR teams need to be in lockstep on the issues, the disclosure and the methodologies.  As one corporate affairs executive told us, “I am spending more time with the Chair, the CFO, and the Treasurer than ever before.  It is not just about a social licence to operate; it is about gaining and maintaining investment and capital.”  Wherever the function sits in an organisation, we are heartened that ESG is increasingly being seen as a whole of business concern.

This Sporting Life

Most of the time we run discreet and confidential search processes on behalf of our clients, but from time-to-time we work on some very public searches.  The National Rugby League was certainly in that category!  We were privileged to work with the NRL on two senior roles, their GM of Media and the newly created Chief Corporate Affairs Officer.  These are challenging, exciting and ‘bucket list’ roles with sports organisations being at the leading edge of community engagement and managing the changing dynamics of the media industry.  Sporting organisations are certainly not immune from the trust deficit facing the business community and we are seeing many ‘upping their game’ and looking for high level corporate affairs judgement, skilled stakeholder management, strong commercial savviness and sophisticated understanding of brand – as well as a love of the game.

Changes at the Temple

I also wanted to give you a quick update on a few changes at Temple.  As most of you know, Temple has worked closely with the team at Nightingale Communications in Melbourne who have run search processes under the Temple Melbourne banner for the last few years.  After much thought, the team from Nightingale Communications has decided to bring their search function in house and combine it with their very successful core communications business, under the Nightingale brand.

Our relationship with the Nightingale team remains close.  We are proud of the work we have done together and will continue to collaborate on assignments into the future.

As part of these changes, Ross, Susan, Lou, the rest of the Temple team and I will return to cover executive search nation-wide.  We’re already filling roles in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth so we are excited about working with our extensive networks in the southern capital.  It also means we will get to sample more of Melbourne’s finest coffee establishments!!  We are open to suggestions!!

Temple remains the only executive search firm staffed by corporate affairs practitioners and 100 per cent dedicated to corporate affairs search.  All of our search leads each have more than 20 years in corporate affairs roles before moving to search.  This makes us unique in that we understand the nature of the different roles, the pressures, the challenges and the opportunities.  We are of and for the industry and that’s what continues to drive our focus on finding talented practitioners for great roles.

Looking forward to catching up soon for a coffee!!

Rebecca Tabakoff
Executive Director and Founder
Temple Executive Search