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21st Dec 2023

A Message From Our Managing Partner Conor O'Callaghan

21st Dec 2023

Resiliance is a characteristic that I respect and admire greatly. Having reached the "enviable" 50 year milestone I have realized just how important resiliance is.

Africa continues to remain resilient despite an uncertain global environment, characterized by tightening global financial conditions, the effects of Russia Ukrainian conflict, subdued global growth, and climatic challenges.

Africa is key, geographic focus and all our efforts are in understanding how we can continue to support clients operating in the world's most exciting, and dynamic continent.

As a business we continue to focus on improvement, our key focus pillars have been customer intimacy, people and infrastructure.

2023 has seen us roll out new talent related products that our clients tell us are required in the region. These include Project Recruitment, Future Talent (talent mapping and pipelining) & Services (organisation design & review, remuneration design & advisory, and psychometric & technical assessments).

Our ambition is to continue to develop a suite of products that resolve full life cycle talent issues our clients face.

The teams' working lives have been affected by technology surges, especially around Artificial Intelligence. I personally do not see AI as a threat to our industry, we have already seen how it can help overcome subconscious bias, streamline arbitrary, administrative tasks and help us access longlisted candidates with greater accuracy. It has shown to compliment, hard core human centred research activity. I am sure in time AI will provide predictive analysis to determine the likely success of candidates, creating efficiencies in candidate search and optimizing the candidate and client acquisition process.

We have completed a migration of our brain, the CRM, to the world's leading executive search platform, Invenias. Although this was a considerable investment, we firmly believe that we must have the tools to perform to the best of our ability and provide a more collaborative experience to our clients, the use of client portals will make this a reality.

The Millar Cameron team continues to grow, the Kenyan team has doubled and we have opened an office in Johannesburg. Although we have never focused on the South African market, we understand that the executive search sector in Africa remains nascent, to achieve our growth goals we believe the greatest source of African search talent to be centralised in South Africa. We will continue to grow and hire more colleagues, although as a smaller business we will look to pursue partnership agreements with other likeminded business ensuring we can have true continental coverage.

We have reviewed and workshopped our purpose, vision and mission statements and our values. After a decade we felt the need to look at what we do and why we do it.

Our purpose is "We bring together extraordinary organisations and exceptional people who together make the difference.". This is something that fills me with immense pride. I would never have believed back in 2007 when I decided to follow my grandfather's footsteps and build something could I imagine that Millar Cameron would make a real difference in such a magnificent region.

Our values are Collaboration, Accountability, Respect and Excellence. I know that these are values that are constantly exhibited both internally and in our interactions with our clients. If you do not partner with us then please do, see for yourselves, it is refreshing.

Across the tech start-/scale-up landscape, driven by increased cost of capital and augmented by geopolitical situations, investor eyes are shifting, with a laser focus on the path to profitability. Against this backdrop, we continue to support companies at various investment stages on acquiring the talent needed to achieve a redefined form of commercial and financial success. We have bolstered the leadership of the Kenyan business unit for one of our longest standing scale-up clients, Poa! Internet, while also supporting them at the group level on their international expansion. Earlier in their growth journey, looking towards their Series A round, we have placed multiple directors into the leadership of Ilara Health, as they continue to build out a unique business model to transform primary healthcare in Africa. Besides leveraging technology, our clients in this space also share a founding principle of social impact, squarely in-line with the values of our own business.

In African telecommunications, MNOs are investing further in software development, value-added services, and big data for AI solutions. This is driving record profits but a shift in the profile of talent they are searching for. Across the continent, companies are adopting co-location and cloud services as carrier-neutral data centres are no longer just investment plans, but active facilities meaning the demand for engineering leadership able to operate complex facilities is a priority. With a lack of technical talent remaining a key constraint, Millar Cameron has balanced both local and increasingly international candidates in removing this blocker to growth. We are proud to call ourselves partners to a range of African data centre operators, and welcome iColo as a new client.

It has been another busy year in the African Power sector with continued growth in the Commercial & Industrial segment as well as some ground-breaking announcements of investment in Transmission infrastructure. AFC, InfraCo, PowerGen, Starsight, Vivo Energy and Serengeti Energy among others have been keeping the team busy in DRC, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa and Gridworks adding to its team for projects in East Africa. At a successful Africa Energy Forum event held for the first time on Continental Africa, there was much talk about the potential of hydrogen and the role that Africa can play in the production of this important green fuel. Demands for access to energy and the pressures of the climate challenge show no signs of easing so 2024 has the potential for another busy one for the team.

The International Development sector is undergoing a change, which is reflected in the donors funding, governance models and how the grants are shaped.  Decolonization, community-driven development, and power dynamics are central themes dominating the discourse which has an impact on the skills, experiences and most importantly the mindset of the sought-after talent. We have seen a much-welcomed trend of localization, with organizations looking to hire in the global South and have local representation to ensure impact is delivered where the impact is needed. And climate action has emerged as a critical component across the various thematic areas, with droughts and floods affecting food security, healthcare, education, and indigenous peoples driving the demand for climate action and adaptation skills.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with a number of International Development organsations who are focused on improving the resilience of Africa. A few include:

MEDA an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty- working in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South for decent job creation.  With an ambitious goal to create or sustain decent work for 500,000 people in emerging economies by 2030, MEDA is shifting its focus beyond project-specific efforts to establish lasting alliances that bring about systemic change and they are committed to cultivating long-term partnerships at the national, regional, and systemic levels in the areas where they operate. We are supporting MEDA to achieve their goals by offering retained executive search services to identify the appropriate talent for key positions and are actively involved in establishing and strengthening their talent pipeline for pivotal roles.

The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) brings together philanthropy including the IKEA Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bezos Earth Fund, governments, technology, policy and development partners, and the private sector to tackle the twin challenges of energy access and transition in emerging and developing countries. By 2030, they aim to expand clean energy access to one billion people, enable 150 million new jobs and reduce 4 gigatons of future carbon emissions.

MedAccess is a social enterprise committed to improving health in low- and middle-income countries. They broker partnerships that remove barriers stopping lifesaving medical innovations reaching people who need them.

We are excited about the journey ahead in 2024 as the expansion of our International Development team will allow us to increase the impact that we can have on Africa’s future through supporting more organisations with our tailored talent solutions.

Over the past year Agriculture has not fared so well, investment into commercial agriculture has dipped, somewhat surprising with food sovereignty and security at the top of many minds however we are seeing smarter, more agile firms exploring different ways to contribute towards African agriculture.

Africa is a tough environment, as one investor recently remarked to me, "Crises are normal for entrepreneurs in Africa". After sixteen years committment to the region we have experienced our fair share of crises. Experience has shown me that there is always opportunity, you just need to be resilient enough to embrace the challenge and believe. Fortunately, I am surrounded by excellence which makes the lonely life of the Founder that much easier.

Conflict remains a part of the global reality and this saddens me. I will continue to pray for all those blighted and affected by the ongoing troubles in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and East-Central Europe.

To all our clients thank you for allowing us to support you, we look forward to the year ahead.

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