Cripps Sears & Partners 30th Anniversary Party Dali Universe, South Bank, London September 2003They say that the best predictor of the future is the past. If this is the case, Cripps Sears & Partners – celebrating this evening the passing of 30 years of successful executive search – is now embarking on an equally successful future.
A few words from Managing Director Michael Cripps focussed on using the past and the present to plan a world-class future.
Senior industry executives from each of Cripps Sears 5 specialist sectors: Energy, Law, Property & Construction, Financial Services and TMT were among the guests and Dali Universe provided a suitably dramatic venue for clients and candidates past and future alike to mingle amongst the exotic and provocative works of art.
In 1973, the year Cripps Sears was established, the world saw a number of landmark events taking place that have affected all our lives. Bernardo Bertolucci produced the controversial last Tango inParis, Pink Floyd produced the Dark Side of the Moon, an album that has inspired and provoked anyone that has ever listened to it. Britain and Ireland joined the EEC, VAT was introduced in the UK and Trevor McDonald appeared as the first black newscaster. The was an Arab Oil embargo during the Arab Israeli War, which disrupted oil flow and triggered soaring oil prices.
These events led us to thinking about the key factors over the last 30 years that have affected Cripps Sears, and how have they carried us forward towards the future.
When Cripps Sears started business in 1973, we chose just 10 companies to target as clients. These included Chase Manhattan, First National City Bank now City Group, J Walter Thompson, Haymarket Publishing, Lloyds International and Johnson Matthey.
What’s the message? Quality not quantity.
Factor 2 in 1974; within 1 year of starting business, we faced a miner’s strike and offices without electricity. For 2 days a week we used oil lamps.
So what’s the message? Plan for the worst as well as the
Factor 3. We handled our first assignment in Aberdeen for an Oil Major in 1978. This was the beginning of the oil boom in the North Sea, and we became one of the first major recruitment businesses to open an office in Aberdeen in 1982.
The message here is: Use knowledge and risk reward to try
and be ahead of the game.
Factor 4. We joined the committee of the Japan association in the early 80’s and built good levels of business with Japanese companies in the UK. We travelled to Japan a lot, learnt to eat raw fish and opened an office in Tokyo in 1986 to service our Geijen Financial Services clients. The city crash in October ‘86 led to a huge drop in business levels and forced us to close our Tokyo office and cut our overheads by more than 50 %.
I think you’ll agree the message here is: Make hay while the
sun shines but don’t spend what you haven’t got.
Factor 5. The recession of the early nineties led to us focusing more closely on our knowledge base and specialisations. And we have learnt a valuable lesson from this: Don’t try and be all things to all men. We now focus on a small number of sectors.
Factor 6. We joined a global affiliation of search firms in 1993 and found a way of operating internationally for our clients whilst controlling quality.
The message here is: You don’t have to be big to be strong. I’m pleased to say that Maurice Dennis, the chairman of WorldSearch our global affiliation, which we joined earlier this year, is with us here this evening.
Factor 7. In the late nineties following the dot-com led and corporate finance driven boom, the last 3 years have probably been the toughest in the Search Industry’s history. We have however sustained and gained competitive edge through giving value, focusing on being an open, knowledge based culture whilst we have overlapped the knowledge of our five key sectors which are: –
Energy, Property and Construction, Law, Financial Services and TMT.
The message here if it’s not obvious already!!!: If you want
specialist help e.g. in Recruiting in Energy, Property and
Construction, Law, Financial Services or TMT you know
where to come.
Now, I’m going to give you a small example of how important it is to work in specialist sectors and what value you can get from integration.
There were 3 Petroleum Engineers and 3 Scottish lawyers travelling together in the same carriage from Kings Cross to Edinburgh for an energy conference. The 3 Petroleum Engineers had their tickets and as the ticket inspector approached, the 3 Scottish Lawyers disappeared into the loo. When the ticked inspector came past the loo he tapped on the door, “tickets please, tickets mate”. Out came a hand with one ticket, which he checked then continued on through the carriage. Now after the conference and with everyone on their
way back down south, the three petroleum engineers having witnessed the lawyer’s behaviour on the way up, thought they would be equally cunning and buy one ticket between them. As the ticket inspector approached, they bundled into the loo and waited for a knock at the door. Sure enough, there was a knock on the door followed by “hello mate can I ‘ave yer ticket?” One of them thrust out his hand and the ticket was swiftly collected by the
Message: You can’t always learn from the experience of
Factor 8: Knowledge-based focus encourages dedication, which can lead to us taking ourselves too seriously. We need three legs to our stool in life: A business leg, a personal leg and a family leg and we should use these each in equal proportions. Now I don’t pretend to be a master at this but it is something worth striving for. We’ve looked mainly at corporate messages for the future, how has the past and present affected the views of senior executives for the future. We have just completed a survey embracing over 50 senior executives in the energy sector and we have asked each of them to highlight 2 or 3 Characteristics of Success for tomorrow’s leaders in their industry. 3 characteristics have been overwhelmingly popular being:
1. Leadership through a Clear Vision and Strategic Focus
2. A deep understanding of the business
3. Strong Communication Skills
Now a few thanks.
First of all to you the business community for supporting us generally and for attending tonight.
Our suppliers some of whom are here tonight for aiming to provide us with a world-class service.
Our loyal group of partners and staff who have so effectively supported the business.
Nikki Bunkin, our administrator for her tireless efforts in organising this evening.
My family for supporting me through the years, particularly my wife Carolyn, which leads on nicely now for me to be able to say that we are thrilled to be able to use this opportunity to promote the work of our nominated charity of the year Children’s Fire and Burn Trust.
We are particularly delighted to be able to welcome the charity’s Patron, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, the Charity’s Director Carolyn Cripps OBE and the Patron of the Firebeaters challenge, Richard Noble OBE, the former holder of the world land speed record. I would like to now hand you over to Carolyn Cripps, the Director of Children’s Fire and Burn Trust.