To ensure that all relevant internal knowledge and expertise would be leveraged for the assignment, we assembled a team of three consultants to work in collaboration with the CEO, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Director of Human Resources, and key members of the private equity firm. Together, we determined the organizations with potential candidates. While initial targets were engineering firms that were similar in size, we wanted to generate as deep a talent bench as we could and opened search parameters to include larger entities and organizations that have strong M&A practices focused on the engineering sector. We performed direct outreach to CSOs and other corporate, regional, and market sector leaders within these companies who would have similar responsibilities to our client’s role. To uncover all possible candidates, we also initiated conversations with individuals in Chief Executive Officer- and Chief Operating Officer-level positions within smaller organizations, with the theory that those roles would have a focus parallel to that of the CSO role within a larger organization.
When we began having discussions with candidates, many were attracted to the fact that our client was focused on growth and had substantial financial backing and other resources in place to achieve that growth. These senior industry executives were especially intrigued by the opportunity to help a significant and successful organization reach the next stage in its development.
We expected certain challenges that come with this type of assignment, including the extremely limited talent pool, and the potential difficulty of capturing the attention of executives who are likely entrenched in their roles and organizations, passive to new opportunities, and risk-averse. An additional concern was the geography of our client. The company’s portfolio is predominately east of the Mississippi. Although there were several location options in which this person could be based, they were all in the Eastern half of the U.S. Therefore, qualified candidates with strong ties to the West Coast were not finding the role attractive.
Not surprisingly, because the position encompasses strategy, sales, M&A activities, and organic growth, it proved challenging to find candidates who had strengths in all areas. However, by working closely with our client and openly discussing the market and candidate pool, we were able to nimbly adapt and realign our search process as it unfolded.