Stanton Chase
Entering the American Market: An Executive Search Perspective

Entering the American Market: An Executive Search Perspective

July 2024


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For European organizations, breaking into the American market represents both an opportunity and a challenge.

The United States remains the world’s largest economy, with a GDP of 27.73 trillion USD in 2023. This impressive economic size is partly due to the interest multinational enterprises show in operating in the USA.  

Majority-owned U.S. affiliates (MOUSAs) of foreign multinational enterprises (MNEs) play an important role in the U.S. economy: 

  • MOUSAs employ roughly 7.86 million workers in the United States
  • They account for approximately 6.4 percent of total private-industry employment in the USA
  • The largest contributors to total MOUSA employment are those with ultimate owners in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany   

I am Tim Fetzer, a Director at Stanton Chase Nashville. I have extensive experience in facilitating the transition to the USA for German and European clients. Born in Germany, studied in London, and having worked throughout Europe, I now reside in the United States. I offer a distinctive perspective because I have personally witnessed the role that adept leadership plays in achieving successful market entry.

For German and European companies aspiring to establish a presence in the American market, the importance of a strategic and well-executed executive search cannot be overstated.

Below, I share key insights on how to use executive search to ensure a successful market entry.

6 Considerations for Effective Global Expansion Using Executive Search

A recent study found that three-quarters of employers are having difficulty filling vacancies. While this statistic applies to all talent an organization needs, finding suitable candidates for C-suite or board positions is even more challenging. When it comes to facilitating successful market entry through executive search, the stakes are particularly high. 

The first step in improving your chances of market penetration is to look for executives with a real understanding of the American market, its business environment, and its regulatory landscape. This may involve hiring an American or searching for an executive who has previously been involved in successful expansion projects, particularly those targeting the USA. 

Ideal candidates should have a proven track record in your industry and demonstrate the ability to navigate the complexities of transatlantic business operations. 

1. Find a Suitable Executive Search Firm

Partnering with an executive search firm specializing in cross-border placements can be indispensable when staffing your leadership team for USA expansion. While you can attempt this yourself, the cost of replacing a failed executive hire is typically 1.5 to 2 times that executive’s salary. The DIY approach increases the risk of a failed hire and the associated replacement costs. 

Executive search firms have extensive experience placing suitable executives. They understand your needs and can identify the right candidates through proven assessment methods. 

Firms like Stanton Chase also offer extensive networks and deep market insights. This enables them to find top candidates who are not only qualified but also culturally aligned with your company’s values and vision. Such partnerships ensure your leadership team is well-equipped to handle the challenges of the American market. 

2. Focus on Cultural Fit and Adaptability

Cultural fit matters when expanding into the American market. Executives need to adapt and connect their own business culture and American business practices. A survey found that executives who fit well with company culture are 81% less likely to quit early. 

When picking an executive search firm, check that they care about cultural fit and adaptability. Make sure they look at how well candidates communicate during assessments. Good communicators can work with different styles and approaches. This helps a leader deal with cultural differences while getting the most from their team’s various skills. 

Here are some additional questions you should ask any executive search firm to ensure they properly consider cultural fit and adaptability: 

  • How do you assess a candidate’s ability to adapt to new cultural environments?
  • How do you measure a candidate’s emotional intelligence and its relevance to cultural adaptability?
  • How do you ensure that candidates understand the nuances of American business culture?   

3. Consider Executive Onboarding

Once the right leaders are in place, executive onboarding is important to ensure they hit the ground running. This includes familiarizing them with your company’s global operations, strategic goals, and the specifics of the American market.  

Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%

Effective onboarding programs help new executives integrate smoothly into the organization and start contributing to your market entry strategy from day one. 

4. Keep Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Your Sights

Diversity and inclusion matter for a good market entry strategy. McKinsey & Company found that companies with more gender-diverse executive teams were 25% more likely to be profitable than those with less diversity. 

A mix of backgrounds in leadership brings different ideas to the table. This helps when entering a new market, as a diverse group of executives can spot more challenges and opportunities, leading to new thinking and smarter choices. 

For expanding internationally, try to get a wide range of people in your C-suite. Look for leaders from different economic backgrounds, cultures, languages, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and neurodiversities. This range allows your team to examine problems from multiple angles and better understand your diverse US consumer base. 

Ensure your executive search process actively seeks diverse candidates who can enrich your leadership team and drive your business forward in the American market. 

5. Ensure All Decision-Making is Data-Driven

Companies that rely heavily on data are three times more likely to see big improvements in their decision-making compared to those that use data less. 

Data-driven decisions matter everywhere, but you’ll need them more when entering a new market like the USA. They help with planning marketing, R&D, managing employees, and more. When looking for executives to lead your expansion, it is important to take a data-first approach too. If you’re working with an executive search firm, ask how they use data to guide their search process. 

Understanding the market, your competitors, and what US customers want will help you pick leaders who can navigate these challenges. This way, you’re more likely to build a team that can succeed in the American market. 

6. Prioritize Strong Local Networks

When filling your C-suite, whether on your own or through an executive search firm, it’s important to include people with strong local networks. This makes market entry easier, as these connections help reach key stakeholders, potential partners, and industry influencers. 

During the executive search, prioritize candidates with established relationships in the American market, as these connections can accelerate your company’s growth and integration. 

Find Leaders to Help Your Company Enter the American Market

Entering the American market is a complex and ambitious endeavor, but with the right leadership, it is entirely achievable.  

By focusing on strategic executive search, multinational companies can secure the talent needed to navigate this transition smoothly.  

At Stanton Chase, we are committed to helping companies identify and onboard executives who will drive their success in the American market. If you are ready to take this step, let’s connect and explore how we can support your journey. 

About the Author

Tim Fetzer is a Director at Stanton Chase Nashville with over a decade of global search experience. He has successfully completed numerous searches for C-level roles, particularly for European-based organizations seeking executive leadership for their U.S. operations. Tim’s expertise spans a diverse array of industries, including large global manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and medical devices. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Hult International Business School in London, which complements his comprehensive understanding of international markets and executive search dynamics.

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