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Faststream: Beware of private equity’s pay cheque

Southampton: Maritime CEO has been told repeatedly that private equity is beating traditional shipowners in recruitment, paying whatever it takes to get the best talent. However, bear in mind working for private equity is a poisoned chalice.

Private equity is the number one area of shipping that senior executives highlight as wanting to work in, says Mark Charman, ceo of HR firm Faststream. Most are attracted by high pay, high profile and the perceived glamour of buying and selling businesses and high finance.

However, he warns: “Very few senior execs are suited to what our private equity clients look for.”

Faststream’s private equity clients want sector specialists, typically in niche areas of shipping, who know the space inside out.

“Very few senior execs consider how tough it is working in private equity. Incredibly long hours, loads of travel, lots of pressure to deliver, very numbers orientated and hard to make the big bucks,” Charman tells aspirant readers of Maritime CEO. He adds: “Whilst private equity is sexy and high profile in the press, there are still only a handful of senior level appointments of shipping people each year and competition is super fierce.”

On general shipping, Charman notes a big pick up in recruitment across all sectors.

“Candidates who hunkered down in the bunker during the tougher times are now starting to become more active and change jobs,” he notes. Companies are realising that they need different skills, knowledge and experience to thrive in the new world of shipping, Charman reckons, with lots of owners entering new markets and changing direction and hiring to suit.

The traditional hubs of Singapore and London are “super busy” hiring, while there’s more growth in shipping hires in Hong Kong as companies see this as “China for beginners”, Charman relates.

The Faststream boss hears more and more that companies are finding employment costs in Singapore prohibitive but he is not seeing a decrease in hiring.

Elsewhere, the resurgent US shipping market is making for lots of hiring activity in US, while demand in Brazil is still steady, with an increasing emphasis on hiring Brazilian nationals

Faststream has grown to about 140 people now and Charman expects to double in size over the next four years.

“Our plan is to become even more specialist in shipping recruitment and to extend our geographical reach even futher,” he says.

Officer recruitment is one of our fastest growing business areas for Faststream. Skills shortages in LNG and offshore are creating big demand for the HR company’s search and selections capabilities

Finally, for all those readers who are aficionados of LinkedIn, Charman has some useful advice.

People seem to be confusing LinkedIn with Facebook, he warns.  Candidates need to realise that LinkedIn is their “shop window” and that Faststream and is clients will check them out on LinkedIn and ask difficult questions when their employment history does not match up with their CV.

“Candidates need to consider what image they will portray through their activity updates and the picture of them on their profile in their swimming trunks,” he concludes.  [03/07/14]


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