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News / 18 June 2020

From Miami to Manilla (via Malmo)

What do Miami, Manilla and Malmo all have in common?

I do not expect it is a question that has been asked many times in the past and is unlikely to be one that will be posed often in the future! Until a few weeks ago, I would have struggled for an answer…

Happily, I can add to the obvious alliterative similarity that they are all locations where Chameleon International successfully finalised the placement of senior-level executives on exactly the same day.

Three search mandates concluding within the space of a few hours is in itself perhaps not such an unusual event. However, when the wider context of the situation surrounding COVID-19, the almost global-lockdown and the likely recession that is on the horizon, it does appear somewhat remarkable.

The term “unprecedented” seems to be in vogue in 2020 and that was certainly the feeling back in March when Chameleon were planning how the business would fare over the months to follow. There was of course a level of trepidation but also optimism that our agile business model and team would position us as well as could be expected in whatever was to come.

I am not sure that even my most optimistic view would have predicted the events of that day when three of our search processes finalised within the space of a few hours. Each of the processes had been live for 8-12 weeks and throughout this period the team adopted new strategies and techniques to effectively consult both clients and candidates despite the challenges at hand.

What is even more remarkable is that two of the placements were inter-continental (Brazil > Miami and California > Manilla) and all were managed remotely with limited to no face to face contact.

Whilst there is an overall trend towards businesses being conservative with their hiring approach, it is worth noting that these events are not isolated peculiarities. Chameleon have remained busy with both established clients and building new partnerships. It is evident that in uncertain times, a retained service model is more attractive due to the confidence in market coverage, insight and attention to detail that is provided.

Clearly this is not solely a Chameleon success story. A significant amount of credit is shared with the hiring managers who recognised early-on that the landscape had shifted where a “normal process” was not going to be an option and subsequently an alternative must be found.

To summarise, the last few months have been without compare in my 5 years at Chameleon and whilst I am certain that we are far from being out of the woods, I have been enormously proud of how we have reacted to the challenge at hand and am optimistic about what is to come.


Author: Alex Wilcox – Head of Search


The placements mentioned in this article were:

Vice President Operations – Pharmaceutical CDMO – Malmo, Sweden

Global Head of IT Security – Logistics Ports & Terminals – Manilla, Philippines

Managing Director – Logistics Ports & Terminals – Miami, United States