A leading private equity firm challenged us to help improve one of their intrinsic hi-tech investments, the incumbent Managing Director had just handed in his notice to take a significant role abroad and the Chairman had very little confidence that he would be able find a suitable replacement. He had used two search firms previously to recruit for the role, both had failed and the Chairman had eventually found the hugely successful present incumbent himself.
They were big shoes to fill, technically, strategically and personally, as the Chairman and Managing Director had enjoyed an excellent personal and commercial relationship.
Confidentiality and timing was critical, competitors would exploit the fact that the business was losing its inspirational leader. He was personally under pressure to relocate and start his new role as soon as possible but they had agreed a smooth and professional hand-over was essential.
Due to the confidentiality and technical nature of the role we completed a headhunt into a number of specifically targeted organisations.
Starting at the beginning, we gained a detailed understanding of the company’s business strategy. They had become UK market leaders and they anticipated that future growth would need to come from European markets that they did not fully understand. Identifying candidates with experience of the relevant European target markets was to be a priority. We also challenged the brief, gaining a detailed understanding of what was really required, seeking and gaining approval to look both inside and outside of the client’s rather incestuous and narrow industry.
We initiated an extremely thorough market mapping exercise of aligned businesses in the UK and Europe, identifying a long list of potential candidates and making an informed and confidential approach. By spreading the net wide we ensured that we delivered a broad and comprehensive qualified shortlist to reassure the Chairman that he would have a choice of high calibre, relevant and interested candidates and that he wouldn’t have to compromise.
29 candidates were identified and spoken with, 12 asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement and invited to attend a first stage interview.
We were keen that the client got the opportunity to benchmark a slightly broader cross section of candidates than would be usual, so that he could get a full understanding of what was available to him: different nationalities, qualifications, levels of experience and personalities. So we arranged for the Chairman and his incumbent Managing Director to be part of the first stage interview process. They enjoyed it tremendously, they had the opportunity to “sell” the role and meet a refreshingly diverse cross-section of candidates who they agreed could all do the job. It would now be about strategic strength, drive, ambition and personality.
5 candidates were selected to meet with the board for a second interview and they were given the opportunity to prepare and deliver a strategic presentation on what they anticipated their first 100 days would look like. No right or wrong answers just a great opportunity to explore style, methodology and business philosophy.
We also completed personality, verbal and numerical assessments of these candidates prior to interview. The results were discussed and specific areas to then probe were agreed with the client .
The second interviews were a huge success with two candidates selected for final interview, one based in the UK and one in France.
With very little to choose between two very strong candidates, we met with the client again to discuss the merits of each candidate. Lord assisted in the decision and the candidate with slightly more European experience and greater language skills won the day. We then made recommendations on the offer both remuneration and relocation package before putting it compellingly to the successful candidate and gaining acceptance.
A confidential, robust and efficient recruitment process, conducted at pace due to significant time pressures resulting in a smooth professional hand-over and a delighted client and candidate.