Being a worldwide company makes hiring executive staff tricky, and not simply for logistical reasons.
Pieter explained that business culture can vary drastically from country to country, so even if a language barrier has been successfully navigated, by hiring a fluent language speaker for instance, if that person doesn’t also understand the business culture they are trying to reflect, they will still struggle to communicate.
“For example, the CFO of Italy needs to be Italian but doesn’t need to be Italian. What I mean is that we need an Italian speaker, but one with non-Italian work experience, who can bring the north European business culture with them – bridging between cultures rather than injecting northern European DNA into a southern European country.”
This delicate balance of combining local culture, company culture, and international business practices, is just one area where SHV requires a very specific kind of candidate.
For their Group CFO based in China, SHV were looking to find a European or North American candidate who also had experience of working in China, or of the Chinese culture. The right candidate would ensure that local culture is valued and respected, but also reconsider company practices where necessary.
SHV has a meticulous recruitment process which is based on their attention to detail. But while this scrupulousness contributes to their low staff turnover, it can narrow the search even further. “We know we can sometimes be a bit too specific,” Pieter says. “We also might exaggerate the number of interviews and tests that are required, and sometimes we lose candidates along the way because it takes too long. But once they’re in, they stay.”