Consumer goods: How to compete for high calibre leadership talent

8th December 2023
Simon Walton
Partner & Head of Practice

Simon Walton, Head of the Consumer Practice, explains what consumer goods companies can do to attract the best leadership talent in a competitive market.

A combination of post-pandemic burnout, self-reflection and the natural cycle of retirement is seeing leaders from across the consumer goods sector retire at a steady rate. This departure of senior talent is an exodus of knowledge and experience, leaving a leadership skills gap, in addition to other open roles. For many companies, this will be an opportunity to make ambitious developmental hires, appointing on talent and potential, rather than just experience.

Below, I explain how to attract consumer goods leaders in a tight talent market, in particular, the next generation of talent who are increasingly looking to step up into leadership positions.

Challenges in the consumer goods talent market

Performance and mood in the consumer goods sector is both strong and cautious. Companies are performing well but operating with caution, driven by the threat of a potential recession, dips in consumer confidence, high interest rates, and the rising cost of living.

In this challenging environment, consumer goods boards want to replace senior roles with exceptional talent, trading-up and up-skilling their leaders. Their aim: to appoint leaders possessing the sort of agility, creativity, and resilience to meet an increasingly uncertain future – i.e. they want the best and don’t want to compromise.

However, the leadership talent market remains tight. 2.5 million people remain out of the UK labour market1, while growing recession fears impact confidence, leading to candidate hesitancy. The combination is ongoing leadership vacancies exacerbated by growing candidate reluctance to move to other organisations.

How to attract high calibre consumer goods leaders

In a tight talent market, consumer goods organisations should use a combination of strategies to attract high calibre leaders.

They should fully develop the company narrative – focusing on any existing heritage and provenance, or growth opportunities within younger organisations, while significantly referencing the company’s future plans and objectives. This should be intertwined with an organisation’s culture and purpose, and underlined by genuine commitments to sustainability, social purpose, and DEI. We know that companies with a clear purpose attract and retain talent, with 90% of employees who work at purpose-driven companies saying they’re more inspired, motivated, and loyal2.

For many consumer goods companies, investing in their employer branding as well as updating recruitment practices and significantly improving the overall candidate experience, will dramatically improve their ability to attract and also retain the best leaders. This can mean recruiting from adjacent sectors, and considering leaders outside of the consumer goods arena with transferable skills. A hybrid interview process including both a competency and skills-based approach, is now also a necessity, along with offering flexible and hybrid working.

At Berwick Partners, we work with a local, national, and international network of up and coming and high potential consumer goods leaders, who are highly talented, possess drive and ambition, and are hungry for new opportunities. We align their motivations, aspirations, and experience with the fit, purpose, and overall objectives of the organisation, resulting in consumer goods companies led by high calibre individuals. We also have an I&D Consulting business who have created a diagnostic tool which assesses the maturity level of your recruitment and onboarding processes and which can drive positive change within your organisation.

For more information about how we can help, get in touch:

Categories: Consumer