An international focus: Introducing Jonny Whately-Smith

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At Eton Bridge Partners we are constantly looking at ways to improve our service provision to our clients and candidates alike. This means that we are always looking for the best executive talent, not only for our clients, but also to work at Eton Bridge to help deliver those exceptional hires.

While the pandemic has made international travel difficult, it hasn’t dampened our readiness to deliver first-rate international talent in both permanent and interim leadership roles. We have in fact supported on over 200 placements across 35 countries in recent years.

Building on this strong international footprint, we have recently appointed Jonny Whately-Smith to support the business on further establishing our global offering. Jonny has an extraordinary background and we are looking forward to harnessing his capability across South East Asia and the Middle East.

We asked Jonny to share the invaluable experience he brings to Eton Bridge.

International know-how

Jonny started off his career with a well-known executive search firm in London, but after 9 months landed a job at a boutique recruitment company in Dubai, necessitating an international move of his own. After four years his company expanded out to Hong Kong, where he followed, and then on to Singapore, where he was located when the pandemic first started.

Having returned to the UK, Jonny now brings this incredible experience to Eton Bridge, where his unique background means that he is expertly placed to understand the need for cultural alignment between client and candidate.

Understanding that business practices differ from location to location is key. Jonny pointed out that in areas such as Dubai, the pace of life is noticeably different than in Hong Kong, for example.

“You just have to get used to the pace of the work, culturally it’s very different. Being based in Dubai, I have had the pleasure of working with people from all over the world and have thoroughly enjoyed the different ways of conducting business.  Language barriers can also be a challenge, on arrival to Hong Kong for example, this presented a bigger challenge than in Dubai or Singapore.”

Learning to navigate these challenges in multiple locations, with multiple clients has equipped Jonny with an innate understanding of the impact ethos can have on finding the right match. As well as the resilience to jump between different working practices of diverse cultures.

Jonny also noted that there are quite different approaches to finding talent in the regional hubs and that international clients are usually looking for more regionally based matches. “While companies in the UK will often match people with UK based roles, businesses based in Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong will be looking for people with regional and international market exposure.”

Relatable to both clients and candidates

Having been both a candidate and an executive search consultant himself, Jonny can also help provide answers to the challenges that international candidates face, giving much needed reassurance at a time of great upheaval.

“Having had real-life experience of those international moves, I am aware of how the challenges differ from area to area and family to family. This makes onboarding much easier as I can provide that personal touch, based on actual rather than hypothetical experience.”

The fallout from the pandemic

When asked what the impact of the pandemic on international recruitment was, Jonny said the ex-pat community had faced significant challenges due to COVID-19 and returned to their home countries.

“Most expats could not take advantage of any furlough schemes like the one seen in the UK; this had a big impact on many people’s jobs”.

“Due to travel and visa restrictions hiring expats back into Singapore and Hong Kong is proving difficult and businesses are using the existing talent pools to fill their positions”.

“The UAE has been truly inspiring in their approach to navigating the pandemic, with their strong uptake on the vaccine rollout and flexibility on visas, they are leading the way on attracting the best international talent”.

Just do it! The world is your oyster.

As someone who has relocated multiple times himself, we asked Jonny for his biggest tips for people who are looking to move abroad or take on an international placement.

“Just do it,” he said. “So many people worry about it, thinking it’s too late for them or it’s too difficult. But the opportunities are there, you just need to do your research and make sure everything adds up. Don’t be scared to say yes.”

Jonny is enthusiastic about playing sports, in particular golf, tennis, and cricket, and is also looking forward to live sporting events starting again. He is an avid reader of history books and loves to spend time with family and friends.

Welcome to Eton Bridge Jonny!