Jack Hammer CEO elaborates on the demand for African talent in the US

16 October 2018 Consultancy.co.za 3 min. read

As a host of multinational firms look to expand their presence in South Africa and the rest of the African continent, the demand is currently strongest for talented professionals with adequate experience, according to Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, CEO of Cape-Town-based executive search and recruitment consultancy Jack Hammer.

Africa is endowed with some of the most promising economic indicators worldwide, with a large and untapped market, a vast youth population on the verge of entering the working age, and the advent of the latest digital advancements. According to Debbi Goodman-Bhyat, these are not the only factors contributing to Africa’s attractiveness as a recruitment market.

“The reason for the growth in US-based companies seeking assistance with top appointments is two-fold, Firstly, there is the move by more and more companies into the attractive emerging markets in Africa. But secondly, conditions have changed dramatically, and companies can no longer just parachute in one of their senior leaders from elsewhere to come lead their teams here,” says Goodman-Bhyat.

She refers to the trend observed within her own business operations, wherein the number of demands amongst US-based firms for African executives has increased by 75% in the last year itself. US-based firms have always turned to emerging markets for talent at a senior level.

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat - Jack Hammer

However, regulatory changes in recent years have made this an increasingly challenging task, which has prompted American firms to look to recruitment consultancies for support. The technology and private equity domains, in particular, are areas where the demand for African executives tends to be high, according to Goodman-Bhyat.

“Work visa requirements have become more and more stringent, which means these companies are now forced to look locally; and while there is no doubt that there is a solid and growing talent pool in all areas of the market, one cannot expect to do a copy and paste when it comes to sourcing African leaders,” she explained.

Jack Hammer has decided to capitalise on this scenario, currently working on opening offices in two key US markets. Not only will a physical presence in the US allow the firm to better serve its clients there, but Goodman-Bhyat also expects it to be a competitive advantage in the new market, given that few firms in the US have a firm presence in Africa.

She explains the advantage of having a local presence, statting that “ tech markets in Africa are highly developed and competitive, but there is a mismatch between the profile of candidate multinationals think they need for the job, and the profile of candidates that are actually available and able to fill these demanding roles.”

Recruitment consultancies in South Africa also represent promising prospects for international clients, given that most are currently adapting to the latest trends in the South African market, where nearly 6 million jobs are under threat from automation-related disruption, which has brought about a major shift in the priorities when recruiting talent.