Begoña Gonzalez-Blanch currently serves as Managing Partner for the Miami office of Ackermann International, a leader in International Executive Search services. She is responsible for developing the company’s presence in the USA and develop global clients for Ackermann from Miami. She manages daily operations and identifies business opportunities for Ackermann International in the US and Latam countries, where Ackermann has presence with offices in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil.
Begoña has worked in the executive search industry since 1999. Her current duties have her focusing in helping multinational companies to expand in the USA by finding for them the best talent. Being located in Miami is critical for our clients, since Miami is their Hub for the LATAM Region, and she is their point of contact for the Region.
Prior to moving to the USA, she was the CEO for Ackermann Services company in Spain and the Finance and Professional Services business leader for Ackermann Executive Search, being partner of the group since 2010. Ackermann Services is a company focused in Executive Search for Middle Positions, RPO and Market Intelligence projects and HR Consulting Services.
Begoña holds an BS from ESIC, Madrid, and a Masters Degree from ESADE Business School where she remains an active alum.
Begoña also serves as Member of the Board of the US Spain Chamber of Commerce in Miami and is founding member of EJECON, an organization to promote women across all industries, advancing thought leadership, recognizing women’s achievements and creating a community to help each other.
USEC had a unique opportunity to hold this exclusive interview with her to discuss her experience in international executive search, as well as the challenges faced and lessons learned in the US.
1) You have a very wide experience in international executive search. What are the key skills that your clients are looking for in recent years?
I believe it is important for a candidate to possess integrity, honesty, and flexibility in order to work in our modern-day marketplace, which is constantly changing. The two most important skills that I look for in candidates are common sense and passion, as these are skills possessed by individuals who are driven because they genuinely love what they do and are internally motivated.
2) Are there any significant differences between the skills demanded nowadays by clients based in the US vs those based in Spain?
Now that we live in such a global world, where information is accessible from virtually anywhere, the differences between the skills demanded by companies in the U.S. and companies in Spain are no longer significant.
3) What do you think are the main differences between executives trained in the US vs Spain?
The most notable difference to me between executives trained in the US and those trained in Spain is that in the US people are trained to be entrepreneurs, with their final employment goal to ultimately create their own company. In Spain, this training is still very classic. Although this also depends greatly on the university the individual attends, every day I am impressed by the caliber of the candidates that come from Spanish universities.
4) It has been claimed that US executives are more open to relocation than their colleagues from Spain. Is there any truth to this statement in your experience and, if so, what do you think is the main reason?
From my personal experience, I can say that U.S. professionals are not as open to relocation as I thought they would be so I consider this to be a stereotype. Being open to relocation depends mostly on an individual’s personal experiences at the moment and the depth of their professional ambition.
5) In the US, women hold only 19% of board seats on companies in the S&P 500 index. The very same percentage applies to companies in Spain that are publicly traded. What do you think are the main obstacles that prevent a wider representation and what can be expected in future years.
I think the main obstacles that prevent a wide representation of women is that as women, we are very good communicators and responsible employees, but paradoxically, we are not good at negotiating benefits for ourselves or asking for promotions. Much of the time, women assume these rewards will be a natural consequence of performing a good job. Another big obstacle that women face is that we do not network as much as men do, therefore we are less visible to opportunities offered by headhunters and other companies. In my personal experience, when I recommend a woman for a certain executive position it is a commonly asked question if she is adequately prepared to take on the job or good enough for the position while this question never arises in the case of male candidates. There is still a lot of work to do in order to bridge this gap. This is an issue that is very important to me, as I am one of the founding partners of EJECON, an organization that promotes the presence of women in the positions of Senior Management and Boards of Directors, at the moment we are currently planning to launch it in the U.S.
6) What are in your opinion the main challenges found by executives relocating between the two countries?
The main challenges between an executive relocating between two countries are not so much professional as much as personal. They will have to overcome challenges such as language barriers within the work environment, however personally, they will face the challenge of relocating their whole family unit halfway across the world and making sure they are able to adapt, the distance also makes it difficult to relocate because of the challenge of being so far from family and friends.
7) You now have a long experience working as an executive from Spain in the US. Can you share some of the best and worst moments you have had during this time?
The best moments in my line of work are speaking to and meeting so many incredible individuals and the opportunities that arise to build such a large network in various different fields. The worst would have to be when I don’t get a deal because of the difficulties that come with launching a branch of a company in a country with such a competitive market as the United States.