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2023 Chief People Officer Trends

In December 2022, the FlemingMartin Practice Leaders held their Q4 virtual HR Leadership lunches with more than 100 Chief People Officers from leading technology, life science, and fintech companies. Here are a few hot topics that were discussed.

Median pay increases are on an upward trend that began in 2022. Considering inflation, what are your merit increases going to be for 2023?

Most of our tech participants are allocating in the range of 3-6% for merit increases while our life science participants are mostly in the 4-7% range. Many Chief People Officers are also encouraging managers to allocate merit more heavily to high potential employees. There are several companies that have repriced options—particularly in the life sciences sector. Attendees with employees in India noted that wage inflation is a major issue prompting merit increases as high as 20%.

Is the softening economy altering the power balance with your workforce? Will this shifting tide impact your company’s return to office approach?

While some CEOs may think that the pendulum has swung towards the employer, our attendees still believe that employees have leverage—especially top performing employees. The desire for return to office (RTO) seems to be increasing amongst executive teams, but many employees are still resistant to the idea of returning to the office unless they perceive great value in doing so. Several of our CPOs’ companies are “all in” on a remote model while many more are looking for creative ways to entice employees back 3-5 days per week.

A recent HBR study found that 47% of employees do not feel safe sharing their frustrations with (and confiding in) their manager. How are you working to establish greater trust between managers and reports, as well as between all employees and the HR Function?

Our attendees for the most part agreed that their companies could improve in gaining employee trust. Most HR leaders are emphasizing manager training to improve communications with their employees.

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FM Broadcast – Spring 2023

37%                              50%                             70%

Repeat Business    Women in Leadership Placed     DEI Placements 

Searches by Level                                                                         Searches by FunctionUnnamed       Unnamed 1





Q&A With Our Founders

January 2023 marked FlemingMartin’s 12-year anniversary! We sat down with founders, Fleming Jones and Martin “Marty” McMahon to reflect back on the last 12 years and discuss what’s next for FlemingMartin …

What was your goal when you started FlemingMartin? Did you achieve your goal?

“We wanted to start a firm that was focused on quality execution first. In our experience, most firms are focused on sales and revenue generation and tend to spend less time discussing what goes into quality execution. We are always looking for ways to improve, but we have stayed true to our focus on getting the best-fitting, top-performing executives hired by our clients. I think our repeat business with our clients proves that we have achieved our goal.” – Marty

“I echo that. We didn’t want to build a behemoth search firm, but we wanted to provide high quality search services for clients who resonate with us and our approach. Those companies have morphed over time as we have grown and developed expertise in Technology, Life Sciences, and Fintech. That has influenced our strategy to become experts in those arenas.” – Fleming

How did you decide to focus on the Technology, Life Sciences, and Fintech areas?

“We started as a generalist firm and that helped us gather more market knowledge. Buyers of executive search services have become more sophisticated and have learned that generalist firms may not be the best match for their recruitment needs. The days of generalists are pretty much over at this stage.” – Marty

“As we did more work in the Technology, Life Sciences, and Fintech industries, we came to realize each of those industries has unique qualities that require more expertise than a generalist can provide. They also align with our personal and professional interests, which excites us.” – Fleming

How do you think the retained executive search industry has changed over the last 12 years?

“The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge shift for the executive search industry. Our clients started expanding their hiring philosophy nationally, which is only possible due to the advancement of technology. The increase in willingness to hire remotely has also expanded our footprint and network to become a search firm with national capabilities to better support our clients and their diverse needs. We’ve practiced that by expanding our team as well to support our clients, their needs, and their teams in different time zones.” – Fleming

“Another trend we’ve noticed is industry consolidation. Small to mid-sized firms have been acquired and now they’re doing much more than retained search. Many search firms are bringing a whole menu of products to offer, but it may come at the expense of focus and doing one thing really well. We’ve grown, but we’re sticking to our focus of retained search.” – Marty

What has been the most challenging part of building an executive search firm?

“Breaking into a new segment is difficult. You know you can do fantastic work but without experience, it’s difficult to reach those first few clients. Now, we have a 12-year history of all the stellar work we’ve done and all the clients who continue to work with us will also give us great references. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see how the market responded to our search process and specialization. Every now and then, repeat clients ask us to go outside of our specialization because they had such a good experience working with us; they know we go the extra step in sourcing the hardest-to-find candidates and telling their corporate story. What it boils down to is this: if you are diligent, invest in clients, and earn their trust, you will be successful in return!” – Marty

“We also have a hard cap of 6 searches at a time per Practice Leader and Associate to ensure proper bandwidth for each client. Like Marty said, execution is always our priority. Other firms have to work on 10 or more searches at a time to meet their quota. There’s no way to give a world-class experience when you have that type of workload.” – Fleming

What are you seeing in the current economic climate? Any insightful observations?

“Historically speaking, this is still a very strong economy. High-performing leaders will always be in demand regardless of the economy and the ‘A Players’ will drive the success for most companies.” – Fleming

“I agree. Layoffs are the big headlines lately and a lot of hiring managers think that the pendulum has swung back to the employers. The reality is, it’s shifting back to the middle. Keep in mind, your strongest people will always be in high demand!”  Marty

Reflecting back, what are you most proud of?

“We’re proud of the team we’ve built and the longevity of each team member. It’s something that stands out in a world where people jump from one opportunity to the next. The fact that we all still seem to like each other, and work well together is really special.” – Fleming

“The market has validated our original thesis; if you focus on quality work, the clients will come. I’m also proud of the clientele we’ve built over the last 12 years.” – Marty

What do you look forward to over the next 12 years? What’s next for FlemingMartin?

“In the near future, we’re focusing on ways to better serve our clients and add to our own team at FlemingMartin. We have six crucial roles to fill at our firm over the next three years. We want to find people who share our values and can expand our expertise into new functions. As we’ve grown, we also have employees throughout the United States and in multiple time zones. This has successfully enabled us to better support our clients regardless of where they are located.” – Fleming

“We’re also looking forward to empowering the next generation of leaders for FlemingMartin. We want to ensure we are transitioning the leadership of the firm in a way that ensures we don’t lose our culture and identity.” – Marty

Client Snapshot: RingCentral

Ringcentral Ar21

RingCentral (Nasdaq: RNG) is a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration software. With their powerful contact center and messaging system, our client is changing the nature of human interaction and giving people the freedom to connect powerfully and personally from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

FlemingMartin completed the Vice President of Investor Relations search in 30 days.


Firm News

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Congratulations to our newest Sr. Associate, Jamie Bernstein, for her well-earned promotion!Jamie Headshot

Jamie joined the FlemingMartin team in 2018 as an Executive Search Associate and has completed searches for clients such as Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB), (NYSE: BILL), Aimmune Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AIMT, acquired by Nestle Health Sciences), MyoKardia (NASDAQ: MYOK, acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb), and many more. Jamie is known for her warm personality, professionalism, and charismatic approach.

Prior to FlemingMartin, Jamie served as Staffing Manager at Collegial Services Consulting Firm and Account Manager at Aerotek. Here’s to Jamie and her dedication to high-quality executive search!


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