July 2021
On The Spotlight Series #8 – Klemens Wersonig

Our 8th edition of “On The Spotlight Series” is out and about.
Klemens Wersonig, Partner of INAC Austria is our guest and, gave us a glimpse of his life and his 25 year long journey in Executive Search.
Originally from Austria, Klemens was one of the first “pioneers to the East”, crossing the “iron curtain” back in 1988 to work in Hungary. From this time he left a landmark in the centre of Budapest: converting the Southern Vaci utca into a pedestrian zone. His visionary idea and achievement turned it into one of today’s major tourist attraction.
After taking a one year Rotary scholarship in Canada, Klemens finished a doctorate in business administration at the WU-Wirtschaftsuniversität Vienna. He was AIESEC president in Vienna and had traineeships in USA, Canada and France.
In 1994 Klemens founded the TARGET Executive Search Group. Next to his CEO role for the entire Group, he enjoys taking care of his own key clients and finding the right managers for them.
Klemens also served as a Board Member and Vice-President of INAC Global Executive Search.

Since you started your career, what has been the most significant changes that you have witnessed in Executive Search?

Offices got more and more empty until they almost disappeared. I mean shelves full of CV folders disappeared into PCs. And then PCs disappeared into the cloud and now you mostly sit at home in your arm chair with a laptop. Also, our profession got more quiet. At the beginning everything was phone and speaking based, noisy offices. Now it is mostly online and writing based, quiet offices. These changes also mean highly increased speed of identifying and reaching somebody.

How do you see Executive Search in 5 years’ time?

I believe the value of Executive Search will increase, because we are dealing with the human end of recruitment. Since more and more tasks are automatized and online, I believe the urge for the human touch at the top end of recruitment is increasing. Employees want to feel and trust their leader. Executive Search finds the right leaders for organizations, a truly human task.

What do you believe are the non-negotiable skills that candidates must absolutely have nowadays?

I think most important is emotional intelligence.

Your company is present in several countries. Having in mind its multicultural setting, how do you manage it when it comes to its diversity and what do you believe has been the key ingredient for your success?

The key ingredient is tolerance, an open mind for differences! We are all part of the same family, share the same values, work with the same tools.

Would you like to share with us the most gratifying, memorable or special moment of your career?
During my studies I was very much involved in the AIESEC student organization. I was also playing basketball intensively , since I am 2m tall. Both meant team work all the time, even if I was the captain/leader in both situations. Then, later, when I founded my own company I focused on this team spirit with company events. However, I had to learn that being the owner, the ultimate boss, is also a position of loneliness. Very rarely somebody cares to give a positive feedback to a boss. It is his/her job to perform at top level all the time. This was a tough lesson to learn. At our 25th company anniversary event, my team did care and gave me a nice present… And a big Thank You! For me this was a moving and unique moment.

What is the one thing that you think of doing when you are not browsing through profiles and going out to meet clients and candidates?

Well, I would say there are a few things. However, it is interesting that interviewing and assessing people has become such a part of my DNA that I will do it everywhere and anytime. My funniest story was that once I had a “naked interview”, because naturally I conducted an “interview” with my unknown sauna partner, a nice lady 😉 In Austria everybody is butt naked in a sauna. Funny to discuss strengths and weaknesses, when you are both naked. Coming back to your question… Interior design is my favorite hobby. I have planned and supervised the renovation of several flats and developed unique design ideas like a three dimensional star sky in the bedroom, wonderful showers, etc.
I am also a light freak. I can buy a lamp at every corner.

If you could, what would you say to the Klemens that started out this journey?
When I was young, I was proud to be very patient. Over time I learned that often this was a waste of time. I can give you one example: in our young starting office we had a young Hungarian lady, called Erika. Erika came in late every morning. Our office starting time was at 8am. She had a different excuse every day. All discussions with her didn’t help. Then I decided to change the office staring time to 8:30am. Sure enough she was late again, every day. Again, weeks of discussions with Erika. Then I changed the office starting time, once more, to 9am, just because of Erika. She now came at 9:10am, etc. Being late was just part of her DNA. After many months of experimenting I finally dismissed her. So my advice to the young Klemens would be: “Be less patient!”.

How has being part of INAC Global Executive Search impacted your professional path?

Being part of INAC Global has been very enriching for me. On the personal side I worked intensively with partners from different cultures and made friends around the world. On the professional side it is an ongoing learning curve. It certainly lifts everybody to a new level.

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