David Hunt, CEO of Hyperion Executive Search has advised leaders in one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the world to be ‘prudent but brave’ and focus on ‘forward growth’ after any economic slump. According to Hunt, culture and retention strategies are going to be key to business survival in the clean technology sector, particularly for cleantech start-ups who could be susceptible as economic times worsen.
The cleantech sector has seen £134bn investment in Europe in the last year alone and according to Hunt demand still outstrips supply when it comes to talent. For this reason, he says both talent and businesses cannot afford to “batten down the hatches”.
“Cleantech has experienced astonishing exponential growth of 3750 per cent in the last 7 years – according to PwC – but is still an industry in its relative infancy so many businesses are start-ups or relatively young,” he said. “This means they could be particularly susceptible to the threat of rising inflation and costs and wage spirals and may face headwinds in the next six months.”
Speaking after Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey warned that Britain will suffer a more severe dose of inflation than other major economies during the current energy crisis, David Hunt says businesses must put “resilience measures in place” but strike a balance to avoid “stifling future growth”.
“It is crucial that businesses in the sector not only put resilience measures in place to hold on to their employees but continue to seek the best available talent to join their companies, thus focusing on forwards growth,” he said.
David who also runs the popular Leaders in Cleantech global podcast, said leaders should be “prudent but brave”, giving them the edge when the economy rebounded: “For leaders I think remaining clear headed and calm will be a challenge, but necessary,” he said. “In any recession it’s those that batten down the hatches that take longer to recover. If you are prudent yet brave, you can take advantage over those who are less so.”
David also advised: “Fortune favours the brave, but not the stupid! Keep a close eye on cash and the key metrics and levers that drive your business, focus on consistent inputs. And most of all be honest with yourself and your team. Be as transparent as you can. If you have a good culture and your employees are committed to the company, they will work with you, not against you in any tough times.
“Talent remains in short supply, and demand will remain high,” Hunt continued. “That applies to the cleantech market in which I operate, but also many other sectors, as anyone who has taken a flight recently will have experienced.
“It will be critical to hold on to the talent you have, even if the market slows a little. As the airlines have found, you can’t lay everyone off and expect to hire them all back in six to twelve months.”
As well as facing potential challenges at his own business, which he set up in 2014 to concentrate on finding C-suite and senior level talent and teams for cleantech specialists, he said he was also focused on helping clients through the current market conditions.
“We always seek to help our clients navigate and grow under any conditions,” he said. “From a hiring perspective there are always challenges and opportunities, whether Bear or Bull markets.
“We continue to help our clients focus on their culture and retention strategies, as well as any opportunities to bring on talent that may be let go from elsewhere. While cash is indeed king, your people are your biggest asset.
“Be prudent with your resources, but remain future orientated, and look for the opportunities, even if you have to spend more time in the weeds of the business as a leader,” he concluded.