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 INTERVIEW With "Trouw" (Netherlands) 

Full Interview by Perry J. Feenstra with ART's Managing Director. Topic: How Important is Money for Todays Top Managers?

Questions: In the Netherlands there is a discussion about the income of executives getting higher and higher.... The question is: what's the importance of money in getting the best executives? Is money all that matters? What do executives being headhunted ask for in general.

Answer :

'Of course, everyone has a different opinion about the relationship between salary and one's job, but one thing that most people usually believe  is  that they should be paid more than they are currently making. Some people are certain that their company is not paying what the competion pays, because their friends at other companies tell them so. Others just have a suspicion that their company is not paying them "what they are worth."

'Money is probably the biggest motivating factor for executives to leave their companies for other jobs, with the exception of layoffs or "bad business climate." Many people look for other jobs because they want greater autonomy, better benefits, less bureaucracy, better management, and more growth potential, but in most cases, companies with these characteristics tend to be better paying. Many people will leave startup companies because they want greater challenges and more chances of being "captains of their own ships," but one characteristic of joining a startup is also to potentially make much more money through stock options and a successful initial public offering (IPO). In an ideal world -- that is, in a reasonably good economy-- one does not always have to sacrifice money for better life, better challenges, better coworkers. It just might take a while to find that good balance.

'In most cases, if a candidate comes to us and only seems interested in money, we get very nervous. We like to see people who are interested in better compensation, but we primarily want to see candidates who are mot'ivated to change jobs because they are seeking more enjoyment from their jobs, more exposure to areas that interest them, a more stable or better operated company, an opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art technology with world leaders in their field, etc.  Our concern is that a person who only focuses on money issues might rush into a situation that might not be appropriate for him or her simply because the money is good. We want to see people have a balance of a good quality of career along with good pay. Most people want that too. In our experience, the people who really enjoy their jobs usually do well at their jobs, and usually their companies pay them well to stay at those companies. If, however, there is a wrong fit between one's personal career interests and goals and the company's requirements, the person might be less happy, might not work to his or her best, and might simply not get good salary raises. And then there are just those cases where a person can be enjoy their job and company, but the company simply does not have the ability to pay more. In those cases, usually the person has excelled to the highest level possible at that company, and there just are no other opportunities to grow. Those are good times to look for other jobs, even though they might like to stay.

'Depending upon the economic situation or regional business culture, most executives today come to us looking for a chance to make their "vision" come true. These are people who might have spent ten or twenty years at companies the size of Philips or IBM who just have not been able to make their company's bureaucracy listen to them. Or they might have been people at underfunded startup companies looking for better funded or better managed middle-sized companies to carry out their dreams.

'The people who come to us typically "think bigger" than the companies where they are working, and they need to find people with similar dreams to make their goals into realities. These people could be dreaming of life-saving biomedical technologies, revolutionary multimedia electronics or software, or great technologies or services in a thousand other industries and markets. Their motivations for changing jobs only partly involve money. These people are mostly entrepreneurs and risk takers who believe in themselves and in their abilities. They want to do good things during their career. They are willing to work hard and they want to have fun while they are working hard. Money is a factor in their lives, but most of the best executives put money second after their success. In fact, many of our candidates have substantial parts of their compensation dependent upon their personal performance in fulfilling specific targets that they themselves set with their employers. This is a very different type of mindset from too many of those CEO's who spend a good deal of their time sewing their "golden parachutes" while their companies do not respond to market needs or their competition.'


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