Blackwood Group
The search for excellence through excellence


CEO, Global Engineering Business

Blackwood’s client is a global leader in advanced metering infrastructure and provision of integrated solutions to the gas, electricity and water industries, with revenues of over €1.5bn and sales in c. 130 countries worldwide. The business was at the time owned by a tier 1 global private equity fund, and had been through two unsuccessful CEO appointments prior to this search.


The business required an experienced, driven, hands-on CEO, capable of bringing together and motivating the team that was left frustrated by the frequent changes at the top of the organisation, and pursuing further growth on the global scale. Specific tasks included transforming the business from a hardware manufacturer to a technology-led service based solution provider and acquiring bolt-on technologies to move the company up the value chain.  On the soft skills side, the CEO was required to establish a positive working relationship with a very experienced, but strong-willed Chairman and CFO, who had had to run this business together without a CEO for a period of time. The right candidate had to have the gravitas and credibility required to take the business through exit, most likely via the IPO route.

Search Process

Blackwood worked closely with the private equity fund and Chairman to understand the business challenge and define the criteria for this appointment. A script was agreed that allowed us to go into the market without revealing the company’s identity, given the initial sensitivity surrounding the project. The target universe of companies searched included a range of global industrial, technical and telecom manufacturers and/or installers of the requisite scale with a strong presence in Europe. Given the focus on a move from hardware manufacture to technology-led services, the shortlist was weighted strongly towards candidates from the hi-tech, telecom and cable sectors and included Dutch, Swiss, Finnish, Austrian and UK nationals.


Blackwood appointed the former CEO of a multinational data networking and telecommunications equipment company, with a long history of telecoms experience across Europe and Asia particularly. The candidate and client were supported through the complex resignation and offer package process and Blackwood conducted thorough referencing both at the early stage and the end stage of the search. Since the candidate’s appointment the business has IPO’d, creating a very successful exit for the investor.

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