Todd Govig spent a year studying biology for the purposes of business.
“It sounds crazy, but once you understand biology, it becomes one more filter to help you understand what is going on in the world,” says Govig, CEO of Govig & Associates, an executive recruitment firm. “CEOs today need to have a broad understanding of a lot of different things, which is different from what our educational system wants to do today.”
Az Business sat down with the 2016 Industry Leaders of Arizona award winner to talk talent.
Az Business: What qualities must an effective CEO have?
Todd Govig: It’s changed because the world is moving much faster. I’m in the process of building the next generation of leaders in my own business, so I’m answering that question for ourselves. One of the most important qualities a CEO needs to have today is the ability to read the world and make assessments about what’s going to happen, but on very small amounts of information.
AB: What is the key to successful executive recruitment?
TG: The biggest success when we make a match isn’t the spec to spec. If you’re hiring a tax accountant, they either know the tax code or they don’t. What we are really doing is making a cultural match. It’s not whether they have the background, it’s whether they fit into the company’s culture. Making that cultural match — which is a people skill — is really what we do.
AB: How has that evolved during your career?
TG: When I was first in the business about 30 years ago, it was warm body, make the match. Today, the expectation is that we know the industry, the history, the background, the inside information. Part of what companies are hiring us for is to vet through information that is difficult to vet through legally because of the questions you can ask or because no one will talk about it. Clients today say, “I need you to know my industry almost as well as I do.” So the expectations have gone way up.
AB: What qualities make you an effective leader?
TG: We have an advantage because we are a family owned business with no intentions of selling and no intentions of going public. We hold to a 100-year strategy and that allows us to lead and manage differently. My strength is that I’m pretty good at 80,000 feet, looking at the world and looking at the future. If I was in an environment where I had to have results next quarter, I’d get fired. But if you’re in a world where you can make a decision and let it come to maturity, that tends to pan out pretty well. My strength is that I’m a visionary and can see trends and say, “How do we adapt to that?”
AB: What is an example of that vision?
TG: GovigU is a college graduate recruitment program we developed for small- and medium-sized businesses to prepare for an impending shortage of talent. Our read of the world is that we are about to go into a war for talent unlike we’ve ever seen in this country. It’s not going to be a war for talent, it’s going to be a crisis for talent. That read is based purely on demographics: there are 70+ million Baby Boomers moving toward retirement and there aren’t enough quality people with experience behind them to replace them. We need to become more consultants to our clients as face the myriad of issues they are going to face. Most small- and medium-sized businesses don’t have a presence on college campuses. It’s a long-term strategy, but we believe GovigU will dramatically expand our clients’ talent pipeline.