Dear friends, Dear customers, Dear partners,

After a challenging year for all of us, the year 2021 is starting for ALHAMBRA INTERNATIONAL and I would like to thank you for your loyalty.

The year 2020 has been a year of transition marked by the health crisis that has hit our entire planet, with considerable human losses on all continents.

Europe has been rather well protected economically and socially, thanks first of all to massive stimulus plans in most of the continent’s economies; short-time working plans and state-guaranteed loans have enabled companies to rebuild their cash flow, while limiting their operating costs.

For its part, the European Union, through the ECB, has implemented a massive bond buyback plan for a total of 1850 billion euros, with debt buybacks that will probably continue until March 2022, several months later than the initially envisaged end of this exceptional measure. These sovereign debt buybacks allow us to reinject liquidity into the real economy and for banks to support our economic players, with the help of governments. This plan has been complemented by a recovery plan called “Next Generation EU” to prepare the European economy for the challenges of the 21st century, in this case in key sectors such as green chemistry, energy and digital, as explained in our previous article on

Of course, this strategy of “at all costs”, which guided the choice of a large majority of governments in Europe and even elsewhere during this crisis, caused the explosion of debts, but could there have been another way? One thing is certain, this debt will have to be refunded, and restoring activity to its pre-pandemic level will lead to an increase in interest rates that will weigh on the refunding of this debt.

All these plans to help the real economy have avoided its collapse and have even strengthened certain sectors of activity, such as health, agri-food, distribution, equipment or environmental rental services, logistics and digital, including consulting and software development. These are the sectors on which we have focused this year and carried out most of our middle and top management assignments in very operational positions such as Country Managers, Sales Managers, Strategic Program Directors, Technical Directors, Deputy CFOs or CIOs… These assignments have been carried out mainly in Europe, with Asia being slightly less present in our portfolio this year, at least in the first half of the year.

We would like to thank all our clients and partners for their support throughout this period. On an organizational level, we have reinforced the digital dimension of our recruitment activities, it already existed, but it has become completely generalized, with very few face-to-face meetings since March 2020. As early as 2014, we predicted the rise of online tools such as Skype and Webex, which are now often replaced by Zoom or Teams in the recruitment process. We even specified the benefits of being able to use such tools to overcome the distances that may exist between the recruiter’s country and the candidate’s country, while at the same time developing the know-how to better analyse the candidate. Mastering these tools was already necessary a few years ago, and even more so today, because this type of interview cannot be improvised… A piece of advice for our future candidates: put yourself in the conditions of a physical interview: isolate yourself in a separate room, turn off the phone and stare at the camera. Also make sure to validate your connection 5 minutes before starting to make a preparation as complete as a face-to-face interview. The additional change today is that our customer briefings are also done remotely, and this is one of the main new features of 2020!

In the particular context of this year, we have focused our thoughts on HR issues on management in times of crisis and the need for managers to adapt and implement new emergency measures. These measures directly concern employees, but also shareholders. They consist of reassuring and mobilizing employees, validating changes in the business model with its shareholders, but also reinforcing its social and societal responsibility by encouraging and relaying the solidarity initiatives of employees.

We also analysed the new reality of teleworking, before and during the health crisis, and we stressed the urgent need for it to be thought out in such a way as to promote performance and quality of life for employees, while remaining a freedom!

Finally, in October, again with our partner FocusRH, we looked at the future of work in the post-covid_19 era.  Based on analyses by the OECD and McKINSEY, we identified and highlighted the most important factors impacting the future of work, in particular the development of teleworking, but also and above all the need to strengthen skills, in a world where tasks will be increasingly automated. The challenge is to retain employees and support them in acquiring new skills. Upskilling and Digital Learning, combined with coaching, are among the solutions that help strengthen human capital, the main factor in the competitiveness of companies today.

Due to the persistence of this health crisis, which brings about all the changes we have just described, we have chosen not to make any forecasts for this year that is just beginning! Our wish, above all, is to find a more serene economic life with pleasures and moments of joy to share with you customers, partners and candidates, during more informal meetings, gatherings or exchanges by finding face-to-face, complementary to distance work.

We will continue to focus on the quality and relevance of a tailor-made approach to Executive Search thanks to the expertise and sector knowledge of our consultants and their ability to convince the best candidates to join our clients’ teams. A service of excellence that will be complemented, with coaching and assessment, according to your needs.  These are sure values that allow the building of high-performance teams that are stronger and more resilient in times of crisis!

I wish you, on behalf of the entire Alhambra International team, a very good year 2021 full of health, happiness and growth! Take care of yourself!

Anne-Charlotte Vaillant