Chief Financial Officer for an architecture and design firm

An employee-owned architecture, interior design, and master planning firm turned to Helbling to find a key member of the executive team.
An employee-owned architecture, interior design, and master planning firm needed to find a key member of the executive team. The group sought to hire a Chief Financial Officer who could support the firm’s growth plan and aid in the transition to new leadership. The firm was originally founded by three individuals, one of whom had retired and two others who are planning to retire in the near future.

The organization remembered Helbling & Associates from previous business development communication and was very interested in our focus on Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C). Our ability to penetrate the market to identify the most qualified and compelling candidates was exactly the approach required for this critical hiring opportunity.

The client wanted Helbling to find candidates with experience working in a larger organization and/or experience growing an organization. They were also seeking a CFO who had experience managing ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) and the ability to function as an executive partner in addition to managing typical fiscal operations.
Because the organization was a new client and successful leadership transition was a critical desired outcome of the executive search, the Helbling team needed to learn about the client’s culture, vision, and plan. Our firm facilitated brainstorming and strategic planning sessions, one of which included an in-person meeting at the client headquarters.

Helbling collaborated with the firm’s Principal, Director of Operations; Senior Principal; Interim CEO/Division Manager; and Controller on the search. Two founders of the firm and representatives from the Board of Directors also weighed in on the search strategy and hiring process.

Once Helbling search consultants gained an understanding of the client organization and unique hiring need, the team pursued candidates on a national level from like-sized or larger specialty subcontractor firms within the A/E/C industries. The titles of prospective candidates included: Chief Financial Officer, Controller, Vice President of Finance, Division CFO, and Assistant CFO.

With nearly 100 original candidates identified, Helbling pre-qualified candidates through initial phone interviews and other research. We then recommended the most appealing to the client organization to interview.

Of the seven contenders, the leading candidate had the ideal combination of experience, working knowledge of finance, and leadership abilities. He is extremely astute regarding financial forecasting and identifying efficiencies. Even more impressive, he had spent 20 years with his previous firm, which had experienced a growth period.
The client was extremely impressed and even developed a transition plan for the new CFO, which involved temporary housing and a flight allowance. This enabled the newly hired individual and his family to fully relocate during an especially challenging time for all at the height of the COVID pandemic.

Since joining our client’s organization, the CFO has administered the ESOP, has supplied a clearer picture of past and current financial operations and future forecasts, and has provided new structure to the leadership team.

Learn about Helbling’s search process