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Dr. Achim Moraw on the need of internationality in personnel consultancy

What led TOPOS to co-found the International Executive Search Federation (IESF) network in 2002?

Like the whole German economy, many of our customers also have subsidiaries, sales and service offices, and production plants outside of Germany. We wanted to provide these customers in the search for and placement of executives and specialists in international markets with the same service according to the same quality standards they expect from us in Germany.
Since we were and still are convinced that this service can be provided most optimally by partners who are already working successfully in their national markets and who share our passion for quality and uncompromising service, we sought such partners and founded IESF.

What is the difference between IESF and other networks?

With more than one hundred locations all over the world, IESF is one of the networks with the largest geographic coverage. The network of our partner companies extends from the highly developed economies in Europe and North America to the BRIC countries and the emerging markets.
IESF chooses new members on a very selective basis in order to ensure a stable quality of service.
There is only one exclusive IESF partner in each country. Only executive search companies that are held in high regard in their national markets and agree to meet our high performance standards are accepted as members. They need to be able to professionally satisfy customer requirements covering a wide range of sectors and functional areas.
The IESF guidelines state: "To provide exceptional talented leadership as the preferred global executive search partner to clients in emerging and mature markets, with global knowledge and expertise."
Most importantly, the IESF partners and consultants know each other personally through regular meetings and cooperation in numerous cross-border search projects. When I pass on one of our client’s search projects to an IESF partner, I know the people carrying out the project, with all of their strengths and weaknesses.

What repercussions does the participation in IESF have on TOPOS?

We now have almost ten years of experience in the undertaking of international search projects. Each cross-border search project also means forging links among different national cultures, a task we are able to perform much better today than ten years ago.
Naturally, our national search projects have benefited from this. The constant exchange with more than 25 IESF partners all over the world has helped us to further develop and optimize our internal processes and procedures. It is extremely inspiring to compare yourself with your partners worldwide and to have your own processes called into question. Many ideas flow together and the result is a best practice which combines local characteristics and globally proven methods. German specialists can also learn from markets abroad.

Are there more special features that are characteristic for the typical IESF partner?

All members of the IESF, apart from a few exceptions, are owner-managed companies like TOPOS. We believe that this will ensure stability in the staffing of our partner companies in the long term. Depending on the dimension and maturity of the various national markets, the company sizes range considerably from personnel consulting companies in the US with 50 subsidiaries and a corresponding number of employees to a small company with only ten employees.


IESF - International Executive Search Federation