Blackwood’s client is a leading private equity-backed testing, inspection, certification (TIC) and technological services company, headquartered in Continental Europe. It was acquired by a large-cap global private equity fund in 2007. The CEO was to lead the largest global division.
The role was to run a fully autonomous and value critical division requiring strategic vision post an acquisitive period in its life-cycle. We needed to find a hands-on, international divisional CEO with a solid understanding of the TIC and oil & gas sectors. The division had been under-managed for some time, and the right candidate had to demonstrate a clear track record of designing and implementing significant change management programmes in his/her previous roles. This position required a substantial amount of global travel out of its base in the Netherlands, deep contacts in the global oil & gas sector and a willingness to make tough decisions on the spot with imperfect information.
The challenge with hiring for a PE backed businesses in the TIC sector has always been in finding individuals who, in addition to having the vitally important technical knowledge, have the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit that sponsors look for in order to drive value. Blackwood conducted extensive referencing to identify individuals that match both these criteria and had to rule out a large number of candidates on the basis of their personal characteristics, rather than knowledge. When we were awarded the search the client already had two candidates live in the process from other sources. Those candidates were in advanced stages of negotiations and we therefore had weeks, rather than months to provide our client with alternatives to what was a possible, but sub-optimal hire. The long list was very quickly narrowed down to one candidate, who we then managed to put in front of our client within a few days from the first approach, despite his incredibly busy schedule.
Appointed a former Executive Board Member and Head of a sizeable Energy Division within a global Inspection & Certification business. He had previously been on the Executive Committee of a Norwegian headquartered leading provider of non-destructive testing and certification services. The candidate relocated from Aberdeen to the Netherlands and has completely transformed the business, reducing headcount, eliminating inefficiencies, streamlining group’s activities in the emerging markets and substantially improving the division’s performance. This has had visible positive impact on the group’s results.