A Q&A with executive search manager, Navin Govind

Posted 17 October 2022

What’s your background and how did you come to work at Howgate Sable?

I grew up in Dubai, born and raised. I started my career in business development for construction companies, where I learned the importance of connecting and networking with like-minded people. Before joining Howgate Sable, I’d spent eight years working with a conglomerate based in the region but with a global presence and realised here just how much I enjoy recruitment and talent acquisition.

Growing up in the UAE has helped me adapt to different cultures and living in a multicultural environment. I am very much a people’s person, which is one of the key things I about working at Howgate. I’m continually blown away by the sheer number of opportunities for me to build relationships with others, both here in the UAE and in the UK, where our sister company is based.

Why are you so passionate about executive search?

Being a head hunter is more than simply matching employees with employers. It’s not merely a job; the opportunity to work directly with CEOs and other senior executives is the most exciting factor to me. This exposure to senior professionals gives you an incredible insight into the issues and challenges facing an industry as well as the opportunity to have significant impact. Beyond all that, we are talking about changing lives of candidates, how cool is that!?

Navin Govind

What do you find most satisfying about your job?

When you become a trusted advisor to a client and form an extension of their business, the thrill of providing additional support from an executive search perspective is a very satisfying aspect.

If you weren’t in executive search, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in the world of executive search or talent acquisition, I would probably find myself shaping a career in the media world, assisting in film productions and working behind cameras as I have developed a huge interest in that space over the years.

Who would be your dream client?

An ideal client to me would be the one who truly values the benefits that a successful executive search partnership can bring. Clients that invest time and allow their search partners to have deep insight into the job details and the company’s internal challenges are always a delight.  Working in this way creates a two-way communication bridge that helps both parties to switch on to problem-solver mode. 

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge affecting the search market currently

DE&I remains a hot topic. Bringing more women into senior roles in traditionally male-dominated industries like engineering and manufacturing is a key demand in our search briefs. To overcome this, organisations need to ensure there is a strong employer brand that emphasises diversity and has adequate female representation at senior level. It is also vital to make female co-workers a part of the hiring process to foster a positive candidate experience.

How do you predict the search market will change over the next decade?

Executive search has always been about building a company instead of filling a role. It’s the only way to stay ahead—period. Having said that, technology is changing the face of executive search, in the same way that it’s changed everything about the way we work. Though AI will never replace the human touch in building a relationship with candidates, having a combination of technology and human intervention increases the success rate of executive hiring and I expect we’ll see more AI and tech-enabled insights in the field in the coming years.

How have the sectors you work in developed during the time you’ve worked in executive search?

Digital transformation and technology-backed business operations have been the most common agenda among the sectors that I have worked with. This has also led to obvious risk within information security which resulted in streamlining these concerns with enhanced security infrastructure and processes. This entire change management has a direct impact – to build deep commitment to helping clients remain at the forefront of cybersecurity best practices and innovation. We work alongside a cybersecurity expert, Andy Watkin-Child, to help our clients navigate this complex and evolving area.

Which individual has inspired you most in your career and in what way?

I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I have been fortunate to have spent time with people who enabled me to think differently and push my limits to achieve my inner goals. The most important thing I have understood is that learning never stops and knowledge is power. It’s an exciting journey!

Which conversation do you wish you’d been a fly on the wall for?

I’d love to be part of conversations on how the world’s biggest brands got their names. Just imagine if Steve Jobs was visiting an apple farm while on a fruitarian diet when it occurred to him that this fruit could provide a fun, accessible name for a computer company. I love brand history and understanding how these household names came into being.

Get in touch with Navin to discuss your executive search requirements.