Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.


Why relevant expertise matters when choosing an executive search partner.

If, like me, you saw Star Wars in the cinema the first time around (well before it became episode IV) you will no doubt recall the moment when Luke discovered in R2 D2 the message from Leia.

Yes, dear reader, there was a time – long before ABBA Voyage – when seeing a holographic image projected across time and space was sci fi fantasy.

I was reminded of this when reading of how Loughborough University are planning to use similar technology, naturally with the help of AI, to enliven lectures with holograms of guest speakers.

To quote Gary Burnett, professor of digital creativity: “Different immersive technologies and AI are the new forms of literacy. Students need to understand what it means to use those, to be in those worlds, to experience them, to interact … and these are all things they’re going to need for their future careers.”

Another application of AI enhanced technology in the education sector is the app Make Music count. This uses the concept of transferable skills to ‘improve your students math skills by playing the latest popular songs on the piano’ and I am myself learning Italian via the Duolingo app.

There are just three amongst many ways in which technology, turbo-charged by AI, is transforming a sector which is estimated (according to Morgan Stanley) to grow to be worth $8 trillion globally by 2030.

The implications for educators, for learners, for employers and for society at large are profound.

(For more examples take a look at the ‘Future of Edtech’ report published by the Founders Forum Group )

In that context, amidst all the talk about how AI is going to fundamentally change the world of work, it was particularly interesting to read that – according to LinkedIn – ‘soft’ skills  remain the most ‘in demand’.

Noting the data’s source – skills cited by LinkedIn members – ‘Communication’, ‘Customer service’ and ‘Leadership’ are the top 3 overall, with ‘Adaptability’ the fastest riser.

These are arguably very human attributes and talk to ‘attitude’ more than competencies. This is certainly borne out by our conversations with both clients and candidates and why, despite the many positive ways in which the executive recruitment process will itself be impacted by new technologies, there is still a place for human-centred, people-based judgements.

Even in the most quantitively based, systematic processes for problem-solving there is still a role for the Japanese concept of KKD:  Keikan, Kan, Dokyu – Experience, Intuition, Guts.

At Hanover Fox our team of consultants bring wide experience across a range of different sectors including operating at a board level. The benefit of breadth is that we bring a fresh eyes perspective to the search for talent and an ability to quickly assess whether candidates have the transferable skills and aptitude needed to thrive in an adjacent or new sector.

Ok we might not be quite as handy with a light sabre as Obi wan, but when embarking on a search for new talent for your team, it sure might help to have us on board.


Tim Kaner – Associate