FOCUS distinguishes our office in Germany as #TopPersonaldienstleister in #ExecutiveSearch 2022.

In cooperation with the renowned research institute Statista, FOCUS has identified the best personnel service providers in Germany.

We are very proud to have won in the category "Executive Search"!

Matthias Zühlke, a Partner in our Hamburg office said, "We are very pleased with this award and would like to thank our clients for the trusting cooperation! It is the result of our focus on quality in personnel selection and at the same time our ambition to continue to improve in the coming year".


The study was based on a list of around 3,000 personnel service providers. Subsequently, HR managers and job seekers were interviewed.

In order to make it into focus' top personnel service provider list, Friisberg Germany had to achieve a minimum number of mentions and recommendations as well as an above-average overall grade across all evaluation dimensions.

HR managers were interviewed about:
Candidates were asked about:

Thank you to everyone who has given us their trust and their voice.

This award is both a reward and an incentive for us!


Talent in the Green Energy Sector

The energy transition was born in Germany in the 1980s and is now well known with the word “Energiewende”.

It has now become a global megatrend with the growing necessity to transform energy generation and reduce carbon emissions. In 2015, France implemented the "Energy Transition Law" aimed at developing a new energy model, "Green Growth", and so contributing more effectively to the fight against climate change.

The targets appear clear accelerated by the current situation in Ukraine: Reduce fossil fuels and transform the entire energy systems to a carbon neutral generation with renewable energies and hydrogen.

To achieve the European Climate Deal targets by 2050, France's objectives are to increase the use of renewable energies from 12% to 32% of final consumption, to reduce final energy consumption by 50% and to diversify electricity production, in particular by reducing the share of nuclear power (40% to date). The main efforts will have to focus on housing and transport, which together consume 80% of national energy.

As this example from France shows, this global and progressive transformation will of course affect us all, including with the emergence and development of new professions. Generally speaking, for the past 10 years, global renewable energy employment has been booming:

In the solar sector, employment in France will rise from 18.000 in 2020 to 25.000 in 2028. One reason companies are recruiting so much is because they have to cope with the exponential growth in demand for equipment.

The energy transition needs talented leadership.

The 250 main players have hiring plans for 2022 and this seems to be only the starting point. That is 40 to 100 jobs to be created per company. In demand are engineers, financial engineers, project managers, IT experts with relevant skills and executives, who are able to lead an energy transition on a large scale.

The critical competition for talent is a burning topic for transforming energy companies.

In France, ENEDIS, the EDF subsidiary, is seeking to recruit 2,000 people, has set up recruitment hubs in many French cities in order to attract talent directly on the ground. But also the large Oil companies such as BP, Shell, Exxon and Total, and in Germany RWE and E.ON are desperately seeking a talented executive workforce to orchestrate this energy transition.

From the point of view of the economy this is critical as there is clearly competition for the best talents and companies tend to search for employees with a ready to start skillset. As a consequence companies are trying to hunt for talent from their competitors. An increase of salary level is to be expected as companies tend to pay retention bonuses to avoid “bloodletting” of their competencies. Experience from our own international executive research shows that currently the willingness to change jobs has focused on expert levels but also executive levels have significantly decreased.

Not only from the perspective of the EU economy, but it makes sense elsewhere to attract excellent talent from other industries which are also in transformation but with less future certainty, such as automotive industry.

The energy transition needs leadership competence. 

Bearing this in mind it makes sense for the energy,  engineering and manufacturing sectors to put effort into reducing their carbon footprint and to elicit support from a trusted international Executive Search partner - one who has an in depth knowledge of the market and relevant industry networks.

What will be important in 2022?

After a challenging but very successful 2021, we look forward to 2022 with confidence. Sure, the pandemic is not yet over, but we also see great opportunities. The transformation of the industry is in full swing:

Digitization has received a tailwind from the pandemic.

It holds enormous potential, for example, in trade, industry, administration, education and healthcare.

Decarbonization of the industrial sector.

This poses the question to everyone of how they can bring CO2-neutral products to market. One factor: system integration of hydrogen.

Demographic change has affected the entire economy.

The situation in the care sector is dramatic.  Solutions are needed from politics, business and education. Approaches could be: Use of robots, optimization of dual training, improved compatibility of family and career, and skilled labour immigration laws.

Decentralization or shortening of supply chains.

Increased sustainability and resilience of supply chains is a lesson from pandemic, along with travel restrictions and the blockade of the Suez Canal.

Overcoming these obstacles and seizing opportunities requires C-level digital expertise, but also decision-making power.

We select the executives for you who will also lead confidently in an environment characterised by many uncertainties.

The Budapest Business Journal confirms us as Number One.

For the second year in a row, our office in Budapest has once again been confirmed as the number one Executive Search firm in Hungary.

We are honoured to be recognized for making an impact that matters for clients and candidates.

Our commitment to responsible business leadership, diversity and a positive culture is only part of our success.

Árpád Németh, Managing Partner in Hungary, said, "We are absolutely delighted. This award is true recognition of the fantastic people we have working within our business. This recognition is testament to our continued hard work, dedication and real relationships we always build with our clients. We remain very appreciative to our client because with their continued support, commitment and votes, we are once again recognised as the number one firm in Hungary. Thank you so much.”.

Friisberg & Partners International realises that our people are our most valuable asset. We are proud to have such highly engaged teams who believe wholeheartedly in our vision – despite the incredibly challenging times we have all faced over the past two years.

Friisberg and Partners International has been voted one of the best Executive Recruitment Consultancies in Germany.

This is the result of the current study by WirtschaftsWoche - with around one million readers WirtschaftsWoche is the largest and most up-to-date business magazine for decision-makers in Germany.

We won this award covering two sectors:

Since the HR Consultancy ranking is based on customer reviews, we are all the more pleased about this award!

In the future, we will continue to do everything we can to select the right leaders who will make the difference in companies in these challenging times.

A big thank you to our clients for your trust and your votes!

The path to a 'New Work'

For most employees, home office means having flexibility and freedom and many are reluctant to give these up. However, if studies by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim (ZEW)* are to be believed, they don't have to. Many companies plan to stick with the home office arrangements beyond Corona. In 2020, 64% of companies in the information economy wanted to continue to allow working from home at least one day per week. In 2021, it was already 74 %.

Leadership is becoming much more demanding

The fact is that in the last couple of years, many employees were allowed to work from home for the first time - and it was also a new experience for many supervisors. If it now becomes the rule that employees are predominantly at home, this also requires a rethink in terms of leadership. Leadership, already an often underestimated management discipline, becomes even more demanding.  Without the chance encounters in the corridor and the short chat at the coffee machine, supervisors will have to invest more time in the future to stay in touch with their employees. Keeping this connection, even over distance, continuing to provide guidance and coaching requires a high degree of empathy. This is a quality that is much more in demand in Executive Search today than it was before the pandemic.

'New Work' means rethinking work

The much-used buzzword "New Work" tries to give a home to the megatrends in the world of work such as digitalisation, work-life balance, globalisation, etc. It is also a way of thinking about work in a new way. Those who understand how complex the topic is are rethinking work: starting with recruiting and training new employees, to leadership and employee retention. Employer benefits related to the office are losing importance - and also attraction.

What connects employees of a company, how do they become a team?

A practised corporate and leadership culture, shared values and work that is defined by the value delivered are becoming more important than ever. At the same time, the boundaries between work and private life are becoming increasingly indistinct. The risk of being overwhelmed, of restlessness is increasing, because work is omnipresent with the increase in home offices. This is yet another argument for the importance of empathic leadership.

Motivation and willingness to perform - the inseparable partners

Then as now, motivation and willingness to perform are closely linked. Employees want recognition for their performance. Company leaders have to ask themselves: How is it currently working in my organisation? How much room is there for new ideas? What about the culture of error? How regularly does exchange take place between managers and employees? Companies that see the current situation as an opportunity to take a fundamentally new look at the topic of leadership and to set fresh impulses in the design of their working and organisational world will benefit from this in the long term.

A plea for personal contact

Despite all the possibilities offered by new digital media today, I am convinced that inspiring leadership distinguished by empathy cannot do entirely without personal contact. For me, this is not a question of an old or new economy, or of trust and mistrust. It is therefore understandable that many companies specify at least one or two days of presence in the office.

Decisions in favour of a higher proportion of home office are mostly CFO-driven. Some companies have used the absence of employees due to the pandemic to sell office space. Such cost-driven decisions may be good for companies in the short term, but not in the medium to long term.

Motivation boost Corona pandemic?

In May 2020, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) surveyed 500 companies from various sectors on the topic of working in the corona pandemic**. Around 70 % of the participants stated that they had largely switched to home office. Half assessed the performance of their employees to have remained the same during this time - 30% even recorded an increase in productivity. Decreased productivity mostly resulted from the reduction of working time accounts, short-time work, etc.

The study results also show what a strong impulse the Corona crisis gave to develop innovative solutions together - to overcome an existentially threatening situation together.

How long will this last?

When will motivation also decline at the home workplace and with it productivity and efficiency? To prevent this, leaders must now build up and expand their virtual leadership skills and find the right mix in delegation, team organisation, personal responsibility and duty of care. The experiences of the last few months are too important not to be used systematically.

*Source: "Home office in times of Corona", Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim (ZEW).

**Source: "Working in the Corona Pandemic - Towards the New Normal", Fraunhofer IAO in cooperation with the German Society for Human Resource Management DGFP e.V.

Matthias Zühlke, Partner
Hamburg, Germany 

How important are sponsors in the careers of women?

And are female managers committed supporters of women?

In my conversations with female managers, I like to ask the women whether they have actually received support over the course of their careers. Many confirm this by saying that it couldn't be any other way: you need a manager who recognises your potential and pushes you forward, or delegates new tasks and ultimately promotes. And in every new team and / or department it is important to make contacts again and ideally find sponsors. In the best case, it is possible to establish a good relationship with board members and managing directors, who are also successfully following their path and promoting and developing potential. Leadership programs for young talents also help to gain visibility, but such programs are not available everywhere.

Very few women say they made it without a sponsor. They also recognise that further development, with support, would have meant fewer detours and would have been faster. In most cases the sponsors are male. This may be due to the fact that there are fewer women than men in management.

But the question also arises, to what extent do women actually support other women?

In the interviews I have experienced two “extremes”:

On the one hand, there are women for whom, the quota is (unfortunately) a necessary intervention by the legislature in order to correct past mistakes. It is very important to them to support other talented women and to be available to them as mentors - even keeping lists of potential female executives to promote.

Then there are women who do not even want to be associated with the “gender issue”. They neither want to be a quota woman, nor do they want to attract attention through the special promotion of female executives. They are of the opinion that only experience and knowledge should be deciding factors regarding promotion.

Does that coincide with your observations?

How do “quota women” feel in companies? Do we see legislative intervention as an opportunity for all women to bring change in the male-dominated boardrooms?

Meltem Ay, Principal

German coalition clears the way for women's quota and family time off for board members.

In the future, board members with four or more members will have to have at least one woman.

In addition, in certain life situations, such as maternity leave, parental leave, caring for family members, etc., members of the Board of Management can take liability-free time off.

In order for this strong signal for more equality and for a cultural change in Germany to be implemented quickly, the law has to be passed by the Bundestag before the summer break.

I look forward to when companies discover that more diversity is not a chore, but an essential key to growth!

Meltem Ay, Principal

Can a career while juggling a family ever be 'strategically' planned?

In my conversations with successful women, I always ask to what extent they have strategically planned their careers and whether that is even possible.

Most of them never really got the idea and reflect that perhaps they could have reached their goal faster, could have taken all the salary increases and saved themselves detours.

And then there are those who were very ambitious in school and chose subjects that gave them the best opportunities on the job market. A closer look often shows that they had really noteworthy female role models.

Their chosen life partner also plays a major role. So many recommend looking carefully to see if this partner can actually live with a successful woman. If children are planned, the question arises whether both a career and children will be compatible for both parties.

I found that, especially among those women with children, they actually needed to be given the idea of

When you think about sustainability, you don't think of the financial sector first. This is a mistake.

Meltem Ay spoke with  Reinhard Pfingsten, CIO Bethmann Bank & Global Head Asset Allocation ABN AMRO Private Banking, about sustainability in the financial world, sustainable banks, regulations and the potential returns on sustainable investments.

What influence does the financial sector have on sustainability?

The range is huge. Money makes the world go round! The financial sector is an intermediary between money and companies and to that extent it plays a very important role.

How long have you been dealing with this topic?

For a long time, because sustainability is not a new topic and sustainable products have been around for decades. What is new, is that it used to be the niche product of a large supplier, but it is now the core product. In the past few years there has been gigantic growth in the institutional sector. Sustainable criteria are moving more and more into focus. What is also new is that private investors have discovered the topic for themselves and are also being steered in this direction by providers. The supply creates the demand. The growth among private investors is now also very strong, but of course it comes from a very low level. On the one hand, this is due to social change, which is certainly also related to generational change, and the political change that is causing companies to set sustainability goals. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change plays a major role here, but also a regulatory change.

What is a sustainable bank?

The EU has recognized that the financial industry is important to move sustainability forward. It takes companies and the financial sector to close ranks. The regulatory pressure ensures that our industry is moving. The first question is whether the institute also offers sustainable products, among other things. If there are only niche products or one product among many, then it is not a sustainable bank. It has to sell First Choice sustainable products and it has to deal adequately with sustainable issues such as corporate social responsibility and being a social employer. Topics such as ecological building management and the company car regulation are just as much a part of this as a corresponding product range.

Can maximum profits be achieved with sustainable funds / stocks?

I am not saying that sustainability can generate additional returns, because there is no reason to do so. Results vary from year to year. It is the same with sustainable products as with all others. But in any case, so much money is now flowing into sustainability that companies take the topic very seriously and better performance can be derived from it. On the other hand, there are studies that suggest that unsustainable investments can generate additional returns. From my point of view, one should not assume a systematic excess or reduced return on sustainable investments. Over the year, however, things can look very different, but for me it is the wrong question because this is about non-financial returns. If you want to be part of the change and help companies reduce CO2 emissions, then invest in sustainable products!

How much do you have to convince the customer to invest here?

In fact, we offer sustainable products as 'First Choice'. It is important to explain the advantages, but also the challenges, of sustainable investing to the customer. But the discussions have changed. In the past, we had to have a lot more fundamental discussions at this point.

When is an investment really sustainable?

The necessary orientation is at least provided by the classification of a product in accordance with Article 8 of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) of the European Commission. It is important to have a policy that highlights the sustainability risks. That means: which exclusions do I see? What am I not responsible for if a company is active in an area that does not meet the requirements? At Bethmann Bank we also have an advisory board that can anchor sustainability in line with current discussions - they can make policy decisions and impose restrictions.

Do you personally invest your money in sustainable funds?

Partly. Since I only invest in funds, I can answer the question in the affirmative for active funds; for ETFs, these do not yet meet all the requirements of Article 8 of the new regulation.

What investment goals can be pursued with an ESG portfolio?

We offer sustainability reporting for mutual fund customers and asset management customers. There are three blocks of sustainability in which the effects of sustainable products are discussed. We manage best-in-class products and show the best and worst values.

  1. ESG risk rating in the portfolio
  2. CO2 footprint of the portfolio (measured in tons)
  3. Impact on the UN Development Goals (17 UN Sustainable Development Goals).

Sustainable products have to be made much more transparent and the purpose of these systems has to be brought closer to people.

Meltem Ay, Principal Consultant

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