Arpad Szakal – Principal Consultant & Career Transition Coach at Cormis Partners – An Executive Search & Leadership Assessment Firm

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Introduction:

Arpad is an Executive Search & Leadership Assessment professional and a former aviation lawyer. He is an experienced consultant with specialised expertise in the engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, as well as aerospace & defence. He is Principal Consultant at Cormis Partners (we could include a link: https://www.cormispartners.com/), an executive search & leadership assessment firm based in London.

Prior to his career in search & assessment, Arpad worked at the Aviation Departments of two leading international law firms in London where he handled EU regulatory cases including passenger rights. He was also involved with a range of complex aviation liability matters often involving multiple jurisdictions. Arpad earned his LLM (Adv.) degree in Air & Space Law at the Leiden Institute which is one of the leading academic research and teaching institutes in the world specialising in aviation law and regulation.

As a guest lecturer at various executive education programs, Arpad speaks on a range of career management topics including executive communication skills & career planning as well as onboarding. He also publishes widely on the topic of diversity & inclusion within the aviation industry.

He speaks fluent English, German, Hungarian and conversational Spanish and lived in Hungary, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK. Arpad is also a Certified Facilitator of the Hogan Leadership Assessment Suite.

He is an active member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Air League and the Aviation Club of the UK.

What a typical day looks like?

Our clients are industrial businesses undergoing transformation or growth. Meetings can vary from pitching to the CEO of a multi-billion pound business, having an exploratory chat with a high growth start up or coffee with a venture capitalist or private equity firm. I spend a substantial part of the working day on the phone/Zoom screening potential targets to establish their level of interest in the mandate I’ve approached them about and assess their suitability.

I also spend a lot of time speaking with potential clients to better understand their business as well as their current and future talent needs. Generating new business is often the most challenging part of being an executive recruiter as you are trying to win over someone who doesn’t necessarily have time to speak with you and who might not have any current hiring or assessment needs.

Top Career Tips for Early Career Professionals

Remember you’re not being paid for ‘working hard’ or ‘staying busy.’ At the end of the day, what matters to your employer is how you’re contributing to fulfilling the company’s goals and missions, both short term and long term. Therefore, keep in mind that you’re being paid to deliver on clearly defined goals that significantly impact the business’ performance and overall mission.

The value of action is far greater than that of mere words. Instead of bragging about all the things you can do, and then never actually delivering, you ought to show management what you are capable of. Be the solution provider, not the problem creator. Make sure you offer solutions to your boss or supervisor and try to help as much as you can.

Gain trust with your boss. Make sure you meet your deadlines and keep your promises. It’s critical, especially early on in your relationship with your superior, that you fulfill every commitment you make, no matter how difficult it may seem.

To succeed in your role and achieve career success, you will have to be aware of what your manager and team needs. Stay a step ahead of your supervisor by asking yourself, “If I were my boss, what would I want done next?” By ensuring you get things efficiently done in time, and take the initiative to do them yourself, you will be showing a positive, go-getter attitude to management.

What is the best thing about your current role?

This is a sales job, no matter how you cut it. I enjoy knocking on doors and love the feeling of eventually being invited to the table to make a pitch. The variety of the work, the satisfaction of winning, the sense of significance, the feeling of shaping an organisation’s future direction with a great hire, and the chance to make new contacts every single day are some of the main reasons why I enjoy this career. The need to constantly innovate your strategy, try out new and interesting ways to grab the attention of hard-to-find-candidates and always be winning new business to become the recruiter in your niche keeps the job fresh and exciting. Also, as a recruiter, your compensation is tied directly to your results. The more work you put in and the more placements you make, the more money you make. Your income is virtually unlimited.

Piece of advice for someone looking to enter your field. 

The search business is pure sales, and high on the list of required skills is the ability to communicate. If you like sparring with corporate gatekeepers and enjoy hearing “no” 95% of the time, you’ll love the executive hiring business. Successful executive recruiters know they’re retained to provide solutions to client problems, not just “fill slots” in an organizational chart. They also know the marketplace better than their clients and can uncover candidates in places a hiring manager with “tunnel vision” wouldn’t think to look.

Headhunters also must be resourceful when attempting to reach ultimate decision makers who are protected by layers of naysayers. Empathy, grit, resilience and the ability to negotiate are all skills that you must have in order to succeed in this sector.

You can’t earn a university degree in the discipline. It’s a learned skill and the best place to acquire it is from a mentor at an existing search firm.

To find a good search firm, ask hiring authorities to name three top recruiting or search firms they admire or respect. The same firms will likely be mentioned over and over. Call the managing partner and tell him or her you’re interested in the field. Ask if you can come in to discuss the possibility of working there. Search firms are always looking for good people, and if they sense you have the right attributes, they’ll probably offer you a chance.

But before you jump into the profession, know what’s required for success. Those who do this important homework may reap the benefits of a rewarding new career.

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