Executive Search to support the global expansion of professional services firm | Davies Resourcing

The challenge

Our client is now a global professional services firm, we have worked with them since 2009 when they were a niche regulatory UK firm. We have helped them build their business through its many interactions bringing specialist teams, leadership and SMEs to the firm through their multiple acquisitions and organic growth. We believe we are a Trusted Advisor to the senior team. Since then, they now operate across 3 continents with a network of offices and respected brands. We were asked by their founder and CEO to identify a leader to help establish a new practice area initially in Europe but with an eye to rolling this out globally. Their CEO called this their most important hire in the coming year, so the bar was set.

From our work in regulated markets, we informed the CEO that three key challenges had to be overcome to ensure success for our Executive Search. Firstly, the available target candidates in the UK numbered about a dozen direct matches and probably another 15 complimentary candidates, so it created limited margin for error In our work and joint processes. Secondly, our client has no reputation or track record in this new area which would create questions around credibility and lastly, there had been a lot of senior moves in the previous 12 months which would have a depressing effect on our search work and candidates’ interest.

The solution

  • We spent 3 sessions with the firm’s leadership team developing the principal messages to the market, a cogent business outline and definitive investment plans to provide a robust and compelling ‘pitch’ to prospective candidates. There was a healthy debate around salary package from which we produced a short salary survey to illustrate to the client where they stood versus their 6 nearest rivals. They have a desire to be upper quartile around pay, they sat firmly middle.
  • We agreed an Executive Search timeline and plan jointly with our client, ensuring her and all her stakeholders were briefed, understood their role and the importance of their involvement, had availability and dates locked in their diary.
  • We developed a radial market research document that set out the target organisations and individuals that would be in our primary search circle and a secondary circle of complimentary firms with less obvious but potentially relevant individuals. This was signed off by the Managing Partner and underpinned our work.
  • Lastly we formulated an Executive Search process that blended virtual activity (video interviews, Teams meetings, Online Assessments) and physical meetings both formal and informal to shorten the Executive Search timeline and maintain momentum as well as increasing the candidate excitement and interest during the proceedings.

The outcome

It’s not lost on us that we were helped hugely by the fact that we know the firm well and that the senior team trust us. This creates an honest and open dialogue. It meant that at one point were the process slowed, we were able to call the CEO and remind her of the timelines that everyone had signed up to. Conversely, if she had worries she could contact us anytime of the day to surface concerns (and she did!) This is a healthy grown up relationship and leads to the best outcomes. From a solid platform we searched the market and whilst we not able to engage every single candidate for the reasons highlighted at the onset, from a tight target market we produced a longlist of 7 individuals to put into our process.

From our assessment, evaluation and interviews, this longlist was whittled down to a shortlist of 3 candidates which were presented to the CEO and Managing Partner at the same time as booking them in for first ‘client’ interviews. This ensured no break in the process and a good candidate experience. Over the next few weeks, the preferred candidate was interviewed by the stakeholders and subsequently offered. We worked with him to reduce his notice period from 6 months down to 3 as well as successfully negotiating his current company’s attempts to retain him by offering a variety of ‘buy-backs’. This candidate has now started with our client and we have been asked to build a new team around him to realise his and the firm’s ambitions. Separately we have started a process to bolster other parts of the business with a number of highly targeted hires, as the growth and subsequent promotions in their senior team has resulted in gaps across the firm and some organisational strain that is now materialising. The feedback both from the CEO and the Managing Partner at our review meeting was hugely encouraging and is the latest milestone in a long and successful relationship.

David Leen

Client Director

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