Five minutes with Nicolas Goffaux
hw au 14 3 Meet Nicolas Goffaux, a search consultant with AHEAD since June 2005. A Commercial Engineer and Vlerick MBA, Nicolas joined the firm, after a successful early career with L’Oréal. So what keeps him busy now both in and out of the office?...

Regarding search assignments, training is a high profile discipline currently, both online and conventional. A rule of thumb is that one learns 70% on the job learning, desk research,..., another 20% (from your colleagues) and a final 10% (via training & e-learning) with blended learning the name of the game for many employers nowadays. Compliance and risk profiles are sought-after at the moment, from the pharmaceutical sector through banking, insurance and beyond, as the EU is determined to protect consumers more effectively. My current assignments also include consultants (project and process managers) for financial institutions, who are Prince 2 qualified and comfortable in the context of new regulations like Solvency 2, Basel 3, IFRS, EMIR and SEPA.

'You see such a rich variety of profiles
that no other job can offer this.'

I am also helping a French service group set up a subsidiary in Belgium with strong sales and leadership profiles with P&L experience with potential for Country Manager; and a Dutch SME in the food sector looking for a Commercial Manager to spearhead sales and marketing in Belgium and France. That person could work from a home office, which is a growing trend with remote HQs. However it’s true that company attitudes to working from home still seem to differ markedly. Some companies accept and even encourage this a couple of days a week, whereas others not at all. Flexible hours, such as arriving between 7.30-10am, seem to be increasingly acceptable given rush hour bottlenecks.

'Every assignment is a new adventure.'

Yet search is not the only string to your bow, professionally...

Yes, there are three complementary aspects to my professional life at AHEAD. Firstly, I really enjoy my core job in search. Our team is small, friendly and efficient. Importantly, I like meeting people, understanding their story, motivation, discovering sector and roles. This might seem superficial but seeing so many candidates for various assignments, you see such a rich variety of profiles that no other job can offer this. It’s my job to capture the brief, and really get under the skin of what is important in the client company (culture, style of line manager, values and so on). Of course the proactive search for the right profiles is exciting, meeting them and exploring to assess if this is the right win-win for both parties. Even though Belgium is small, every assignment is a new adventure, new meetings, new faces. I also like the mix of C level assignments and less senior roles. This is so close to real life.

For the past two years I’ve also been actively career counselling...poacher turned gamekeeper, if you like, where the individual candidate is client. Each time this is a great experience, because I am 100% dedicated to listen and trying to help a person questioning his current career, willing to change sector, in a mid-life crossroads perhaps. With humility, I can advise, with standard tips and tricks, but also with a customized approach.

'This works both for very little things in life
and for the very big deep questions.'

To grow further I’ve been increasingly involved in coaching, culminating in ICF exams this November, as I was keen to develop within a sound ethical framework and professional methodology. Already it’s so rewarding to see that you can help people using listening, rephrasing, reformulating, making them move - at their own speed, of course - on their beliefs, emotions, motivation. I have a great respect for this. This methodology works both for very little things in life and for the very big deep questions.

Out of the office, what are your passions, Nicolas?

Primarily, my wonderful family, of course - my wife, four fantastic children, and close friends.

I love music, especially piano music like Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninov, and moving French composers like Polnareff, Brel, Barbara. Of my generation, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, David Bowie hit the spot... plus humorous movies like Woody Allen, Monty Python, Mel Brooks (you can’t always be serious in life). And I enjoy photography, as an amateur, trying to think before pushing the button, to create images that bring a certain emotion. Victor Hugo’s "L'homme Qui Rit" is probably my favourite book, plus the works of St Exupéry and Jules Verne. I try to keep fit via tennis, and spinning (in the fitness club under AHEAD’s offices) though, I’m afraid, one could always do more...

If you would like more information on any aspect of Nicolas’s work, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call him on T. 02 223 23 90.