Red Sea Executive Search – A Year in Review 2021

Zoe Dean

There has been an enormous amount of change this year in our search firm Red Sea Executive Search (we work in global development and humanitarian aid); reading my 1st year article made me realise how much has changed in the company in four years, but also how different the world is we live and work in.

This year began with our expansion into the United States, and we were joined in January by Susan Bandow, ex World Vision Global Talent Lead, to take the brand in the US. We had my former colleague (and client) Becky Snead join in April from Oxfam International, to build the in-house business operations and client services function at Red Sea, which has changed the fundamental model of business from which we were previously operating under.

In Africa, we recruited Irene Gikemi as the Senior Consultant for Africa, then Charles Patterson joined us as a consultant for Africa in October, with Linda Walsh moving from a researcher into a Junior Consultant role, all Nairobi based. Part of the Red Sea strategy for this year was looking at the landscape in Africa, and the needs of our clients many of whom are looking to decentralise power globally, with many looking at the African continent for their expansion plans.

Next year we will continue to develop our research function, and add more analysis and data driven methodology to our search offering, including diversity indicators. We’ve doubled in search workload this year alone, with increasing involvement at C Suite and Board level searches. Part of my work this year has been on working with ActionAid UK for their CEO, then for Medecins sans Frontieres, we brought in the new General Director/ Chair of the OCA, and we have just launched the new Executive Director search in the UK. We’ve worked this year in the US on C suite/ Leadership levels for Oxfam America, Orbis International, Relief International and the European Climate Fund, bringing candidates from domestic leadership and international leadership positions to US clients. We’ve done two international search projects, firstly with the European Climate Foundation in Europe and the US, and currently with the International Justice Mission, as they look to expand mission and operations in Africa.

I’ve run Red Sea now for four years since launch, and sitting down to write a year review when there has been so much change in the company, and so many challenges in the global development space, it’s something I do with a mixture of emotions. We made the year end, but in 2022 the world is facing many continuing and new challenges: a new COVID variant, ongoing climate change, political upheaval in many regions and countries; the growing health and economic crisis globally, the international refugee crisis’, food security, supply chain challenges, the continuing squeeze on human rights and the squeezing of the civil society space, racial tension. Those are a few on my mind but there are many, many others affecting families all over the world. In my personal life, I got married in September, there was a wedding to plan in the middle of Covid restrictions in the summer, my wife and son moved house and we got a new ridgeback puppy in November just for good measure…life is busy, but precious; around us friends and family have died from the virus, and it reminds me how fragile life is, but also how we must make the most of every moment we have.

I think as we go into 2022 my hope is that Red Sea will continue to build to assist our clients in finding leaders to tackle some of these global challenges at grassroots to the highest levels of influence. It’s our mission, and when you have the belief and hope that things can change, things can get better, then it is possible to see a better world on the horizon. A happy holiday season to all our friends, families, clients and candidates.We are shutting the business today (Friday 17th December) for two weeks for the first time since launch, as we all need to rest and get ready to move forward next year. I wish you all peace and prosperity for the coming year, and, if celebrating, a very Happy Christmas.