We recently sat down with Andrew Sipus and Nick Scheele, Managing Directors of Executive Search at Robert Half Japan to discuss latest Executive Search trends in Japan, learn more about their team and their mission for the Japan market.

Can you give a brief overview of your professional background?

Andrew Sipus:

“I started my career with one of the largest Japanese executive search firms focused on bilingual leadership talent within the healthcare industry in Tokyo. I spent 5 years there and additionally built out a retail/FMCG R&D practice and was privileged to lead the team.

I had a strong desire to grow into the retained space and cover more industries than just healthcare & retail, so I transitioned to a Singapore-based, boutique retained firm that specialized in corporate functions for the next 5 years of my career. This provided the growth I was seeking by allowing me to cover senior retained roles not only in the Japan market but across APAC for the healthcare, retail, FMCG, technology, manufacturing, and financial industries.”

Nick Scheele:

“I started my professional career working for Sony in New Zealand which led to my interest in Japan. After spending several years in the education sector, I transitioned to the recruitment industry in 2010. Though I was initially positioned as a generalist in the electronics segment, I started specializing in Executive Search shortly after and have been focused on this space for the last 9 years.

Over the span of my recruitment career, I have consistently built strong partnerships with both local and global MNCs with an increasing dedication to executive level hiring on a retained basis.”

How did you come to Robert Half Japan?

Andrew Sipus:

“I was given the opportunity to establish Robert Half’s executive search division in Japan, which is one of our fastest growing practices globally. Seeing the growth potential and opportunity to step into a leadership role for the Executive Search market during an unprecedented time of growth was huge. It was an opportunity I knew I could not pass up. But probably the biggest factor was seeing the overwhelming value and appreciation Robert Half has for its employees.”

Nick Scheele:

“With 12 years’ experience in recruitment, the desire to build something new in partnership with people I trust and a company with a supportive corporate culture led me to be a founding member of the Executive Search business for Robert Half Japan.”

What is currently happening in Japan’s Executive Search market?

Andrew Sipus:

“Recruitment, and more specifically Executive Search as a practice in Japan, is still in an overly immature state having only been around for a fraction of the time compared to other markets globally. Only a few decades ago, many big name retained firms came in to attempt to seize market share here in Japan. Similar however to contingent search, the approach needed a lot of modification to fit the unique talent landscape of Japan. Many firms have come in overpromising what they can deliver without fully understanding this landscape and falling short. Too add to all of this, there is an unprecedented lack of executive and leadership level talent, due to lack of solid succession planning, only making matters worse.

Robert Half Executive Search addresses these challenges by providing clients our market leading consulting strategies and services to take maximum advantage of the opportunities in the market while mitigating hiring challenges effectively.”

Nick Scheele:

“The Executive Search model is not merely a service of managing a talent pool. We are an extension of our client's Talent Acquisition and HR functions; we cross over all channels to bridge gaps and deliver the highest level of service; essentially the “white glove treatment.

Our extensive experience in handling diverse business cases has allowed us to understand how clients look at various problems and provide tailor-made, bespoke solutions for their business.

The executive search market is in an interesting position as we move back towards normalcy. Whereas demand for and availability of talent quickly accelerated at the mid and senior levels of the labor market, the added pressures and responsibilities faced by executives has resulted in a more staggered and fractured landscape which is where expert partners can add value and help to navigate."

What are the macro trends for the Executive Search market in Japan?

Andrew Sipus:

“80-90% of our clients are multinational, with nearly all foreign capital companies headquartered outside of Japan. Typically, English is a necessity and Japanese is a huge plus.

Due to COVID-19 there have been many leadership vacancies locally, with many companies being forced to have their leaders manage the local Japan teams remotely from overseas. We have seen some “expat” rotations on 3-year cycles where the individual never even made it to Japan once. This issue is finally alleviating itself with C-19 restrictions loosening, but it still does not address the lack of viable leadership talent locally, which is a mandate for almost all our client.

We can counteract these bottlenecks through our vast networks around the globe, oftentimes repatriating Japanese talent from overseas to come back to the country for these leadership roles.”

Nick Scheele:

“Even pre-COVID, we saw a reduced reliance on the import of executive talent or in some cases, less investment in expat packages. With the challenges of travel and increased cost consciousness, this trend has been exacerbated although offset in some ways by the ability to work remotely. This has resulted in more urgency to find leadership in the local market or for global talents to take on more of the cost burden by accepting local or local plus packages. Robust succession planning now takes on more importance than ever.

Many Japanese companies have taken a keen interest in bilingual executive talent and bolstering their global strategies via the hiring of talent from multinational companies. This is even the case where these talents have previously not worked for Japanese headquartered organizations and this increase in demand for bilingual talent has led to an even more competitive labor market.”

How can Robert Half Executive Search help clients in Japan?

Andrew Sipus:

“What makes Robert Half Executive Search separates from other firms is that we are not fixated on any specific industry. We are Executive Search generalists.

Our President of Robert Half Executive Search, Wayne S. Mellow eloquently stated,

“...there are no shortcuts to successful employee search and placement. We strive to help organizations by offering our resources and expertise to improve their executive leadership hiring results”

On the ground, Nick and I help companies build superior leadership teams, with a focus on CxO and VP/Director level roles, while expediting the hiring processes and ultimately helping companies identify, locate, and hire the best available executives from the existing market.”

Nick Scheele:

“We employ a highly customized and thorough search process while conducting an executive search for our clients. In essence, we act like a conduit that facilitates our clients’ mission and purpose, and effectively speeds up the hiring process.

We are essentially sitting on a Boeing 747 and leverage the power of Robert Half Japan’s permanent and contract business for the wealth of talents, databases, resources, and market knowledge. We have contingent functionality within Robert Half and are heavily integrated across all practices within the organization.”

If you are seeking Executive Search services in Japan, please contact:

Andrew Sipus, Managing Director

Executive Search

M: +81 3 4563 9492



Nick Scheele, Managing Director

Executive Search

M: +81 80 4134 3433