Emu Partner Spotlight - Zenco Effiong

Working as a trusted advisor to many Australian CEOs, CIOs and CTOs, Zenco forms part of our Technology Practice and today shares a little of his personal and professional journey, touching on his passion for food, the story behind the pink jackets and why he’s proud to be an Emu.

Working as a trusted advisor to many Australian CEOs, CIOs and CTOs, Zenco is part of our Technology Practice and today shares a little of his personal and professional journey, touching on his passion for food, the story behind the pink jackets and why he’s proud to be an Emu.

“If my career journey over the past 25 years has taught me anything, it’s about the importance of standing out, laughing loud and working smart. That doesn’t mean always being the first to talk or the last to leave; for me it has always been about creating positive connections by listening and reading the play. From my early days in Technology Recruitment in London, with many in the industry pounding the phones to generate as much revenue as quickly as possible, I insisted on meeting people face to face first (I know, radical right?) to forge better connections and stand out from the crowd. A slower approach certainly, but one which suited my style and created lasting value.

My early career in London was a time of new experiences - working with clients and candidates in the leading-edge technology sector of Fourth Generation Languages (anyone remember Informix/Progress/Uniface 4GL? Anyone?); leading and training my first recruitment teams; my first Michelin Star restaurant (Le Gavroche), my first spectacular Burgundy and my first pink jacket (more of that later).

What was a real revelation for me during this time, was that I didn’t need a vast database of candidates and clients to be successful; I just focused on creating the best experiences I could with people I genuinely liked and respected. You know the story - you get in with a great crowd who know great people and your name is suddenly on the door and those doors start opening.

Sure there were mistakes/learnings along the way - a candidate’s resume accidentally sent to his current manager, complete with a detailed synopsis of strengths, aspirations and reasons for looking to leave his current employer (ouch!); ordering sweetbread for dessert (only the cracking Sauternes softened the blow slightly); and missing out on hiring a great consultant who went on to be another cracker but who is now fortunately a great friend.

Fast forward to my career journey here in Melbourne, where I decided to work client-side for a number of years to learn about building employment brands, driving best practice across process and technology and partnering with executives to support business strategies. Along the way I also learnt how to navigate highly political environments, tone down my attire to suit a more corporate environment and effect change in a 9-5 culture with a huge lack of engagement.

I didn’t always enjoy the politics and missed wearing my pink jackets (I promise, more of that later) and was positive that the corporate treadmill was definitely not me, but again, I value the connections I made and the understanding I developed of the challenges and opportunities facing HR/Execs and their Talent Acquisition teams in building a compelling employee value proposition and yes, standing out from the crowd.

The stars re-aligned for me 18 months ago when I formed Emu with some great friends who are also recognised as leaders in the Executive Search industry. We were all ready to build a brand that focuses on creating extraordinary experiences, working with extraordinary people across the Tech, Digital and Finance sectors.

I feel I’ve come full circle and have arrived back where I belong - creating a culture of performance, connection and delivering lasting value. Over the past 12 months, I’ve completed a range of truly unique search assignments - from a first appointment CTO for a SaaS business scaling for global disruption to a CEO role for a new Data Centres venture.

I’ve also dusted off the *pink jacket as I again look to stand out from the crowd by looking for moments of truth and delivering amazing experiences and outcomes for leaders in technology.

*Ok, so the pink jacket - I’m running incredibly late for a client meeting in London and inadvertently jump on the wrong train - it just happened to be an empty train (I missed the no boarding announcements on the platform) - and so as the only passenger I elected to check the destination by looking through my open window at the next station.

Unfortunately, the first stop…..was a train wash and your’s truly received an industrial scale soap n’ suds wash from which I’ve still not quite recovered. I eventually leapt from the train at the next stop and walked into the first clothes shop I could find to replace my suit jacket. The only available option in my size was a rather fetching dusty pink double vent number which I felt was rather dapper. I made the meeting, slightly late but was forgiven based on my relationship with the client and the yarn I proceeded to weave.

What did I say about standing out from the crowd?