Executive Search Firm - Diamonds HR

Executive Search - Case Studies

Case Study 1 - American manufacturing startup: General Manager

Speed and creativity are important: being able to spot when a candidate is ready for a big challenge. Having been based in the Far East with clients from all over the globe, we understand the complexities and frustrations of dealing at long distance and in different cultures.

Our client was a US$20m profitable privately owned Florida corporation making components for blue-chip computer and telecoms companies such as Motorola, IBM etc. These customers wanted them to set up a local manufacturing plant in Scotland. This would be their first non-US operation. The President/owner phoned us at short notice. He was arriving in a few days to view sites pre-screened by Locate-in-Scotland, meet lawyers to discuss the new company etc. He was not confident about candidates whose CVs he had been offered. Could we conduct a rapid executive search and meet him for breakfast to discuss the candidates?

We burned some midnight oil and added somewhat to BT's profits over the next few days. Our researchers and contacts were both helpful and effective. Among others, we located a bright chap in a major US manufacturer who had an excellent reputation for programme management and was ripe for the step to general management of a small company.

We met the client with just two CVs. Both fitted his specification closely and he met both candidates during his trip. Our bright chap went to Florida to see them, taking his wife at their suggestion. He was offered the position and became their General Manager a few weeks later.

Case Study 2 - Major legal Firm: Relocation to London

Researching the marketplace is a vital early step for success. We can present the full attractions of a role when we initiate contact with potential candidates.

This first class firm was expanding a specialist department in their London office and wanted to recruit a Scottish qualified lawyer. People with the desired experience were rare and would probably need to move from Scotland. The firm wanted bright self-starters who could develop business as well as service existing client work competently.

From our initial research there would be very few suitable candidates and we could identify and reach them fairly readily. They were unlikely to respond to advertising at that time, as some young lawyers seeking to return to Scotland were having difficulty re-entering the best firms. This was dampening the enthusiasm of others considering a move South for a few years.

We recommended an executive search, briefed our research team who produced target lists of candidates and we were able to hold in-depth confidential discussions with selected lawyers. They could see the advantage of gaining a dual qualification, enjoying additional autonomy and variety, and adding experience which would enhance their partnership prospects.

We addressed their concerns re. a move to London. Our client met several candidates and appointed one of these bright chaps who moved to London and settled there well.

Case Study 3 - European multinational - biotechnology equipment - UK Managing Director

An executive search is sometimes the only way to attract the best in a small field. We value the trust both our client and the candidates place in us as we close the gap between them until we can broker a 'marriage' with the chosen candidate. This is more complicated when we are working across cultures and borders but fundamentally people want to be treated with respect; and, openness of communication is vital.

The Chairman of this highly successful equipment group, which operates in diverse markets globally, contacted us. They needed a new General Manager for their Sales office in SE England. We met him in London to discuss the appointment in detail and advised that a search was the best method. Confidentiality was important, as the group preferred to announce the new appointment to customers positively.

There was too little challenge to attract an existing General Manager/Managing Director to this small office. Instead we focused on Sales Managers/Directors and the tier below them in larger organisations. Joining our client would be an attractive opportunity for a good manager with strategic vision and a proven sales trackrecord; but so would their prospects at their current prestige firm; Crucially we needed large organisation experience yet someone who could fit comfortably in a small office.

We agreed a longlist with our client and held interviews in London. We gave these candidates background information on the Group so the exchange of information kept pace with the level of involvement of both parties. A shortlist of five people met our client, from whom two went to their European headquarters to meet the board and future colleagues. In the process, as a result of discussions with candidates, our client upgraded the role to Managing Director. The Board agreed unanimously on the preferred candidate who accepted their offer. We completed extensive verbal references and helped finalise contracts. The M.D. was successful in revivring their UK markets.

Contrary to myth, no 'head-hunter' ever forced an executive to leave a job! We broker opportunities. The candidate decides whether (s)he will go through the huge upheaval; many factors need to be balanced: spouse's career, children's schooling, possibly selling and buying a home, risk of joining a new employer etc. These are offset against the challenge, rewards and prospects of the new opportunity. The size of opportunity must be perceived to outweigh the risks to a worthwhile extent. This is a very personal decision based on personality, values etc. Without understating our ability to find the right people, much of our success is based on listening effectively.

Case Study 4 - Relocation to Canada - Equipment manufacturer - Project Manager / Design Engineer

This international appointment was highly cost-effective and fast, based on a combined advertising and search approach process. Our client was delighted with the result and the price; and we kept expenses to a minimum.

We received an email from a specialist Canadian equipment manufacturer who had been looking unsuccessfully for a Design Engineer for a long time. They designed bespoke equipment for blue chip customers and their order book was bulging. In this 60 person company, they needed someone experienced in project managing his own work and dealing from start to finish with the customer. Could we find a specialist Designer in UK who would move to Canada, and was the remuneration attractive? They had the all clear to obtain the necessary work permit.

Our research indicated that good designers were as rare here as across the Atlantic but we weighed the rare opportunity for candidates to get into Canada against the downside factors and reckoned that it had great appeal. We advised the client we should advertise and also make direct approaches so we could cover the market comprehensively. The companies in this industry in UK tend to structure in such as way that the experience we wanted came only with owners/directors of small firms or, in larger ones, the design people were in the back office and mostly the sales team talked to customers. Of the few people who were suited, most had young families, spouses with good jobs, or no interest in working in Canada or overseas, etc.

We persisted. We came across an engineer with an excellent degree and big company experience overseas. He had a 'real' engineer's interest in and ability to think solutions and innovation from sound engineering principles, which he had demonstrated frequently in his career. With his permission, we called his Engineering boss, General Manager and Project Manager in the Far East and obtained effusive references. On the strength of the evidence, the client flew him and another very interesting candidate to Canada, where they mutually agreed this was an excellent match. He joined them as soon as the paperwork and Immigration allowed, and settled in well.

Sometimes, there are very few ideal matches. It takes commitment and persistence.