BoardWe apply the same rigorous approach to the recruitment of non-executive directors and chairs as we do to executive search. We work closely with our clients to analyse the requirements of their business, and conduct thorough research to identify candidates that meet those criteria, spanning functional, sector or geographic expertise, experience of specific business scenarios (turnaround, international expansion, IPO etc) and cultural fit. Underpinned by fresh, ground-up research, our reach extends from the established non-executive community to the next generation, across listed, private and private-equity backed businesses on an international basis. Our sector leaders bring their extensive market knowledge and rigorous search methodology to Blackwood’s board searches and work closely together to find creative solutions for clients across function, sector and geography. [key_contacts]
Harry is a Partner of Blackwood and advises on board searches and senior appointments across a variety of investment management clients with a particular focus on alternative investing. He has a particular expertise in team lift-outs and acquisition reviews, and has advised and worked closely with start-up investment firms ahead of launch. Prior to joining Blackwood, Harry worked within search focusing on investment management and corporate finance. He started his career as an Assistant Fund Manager at Smith & Williamson Investment Management. He read Theology and Anthropology at Durham University.
RoleBlackwood worked closely with the CEO and Chairman to clearly define the search criteria. The two key criteria were agreed as FTSE 100 CFO experience and a strong knowledge of the financial services sector. Other important factors were sufficient time and appetite to attend all Board meetings, in addition to undertaking other committee roles along with strong risk and audit credentials. It was also noted that the successful candidate needed to exhibit cultural sensitivity in order to fit into a well-established senior team.
Search ProcessWe counselled our client that to limit the two key criteria to CFO in the FTSE 100 and financial services experience would result in a relatively small universe of candidates that had survived the financial crisis unscathed. As such, we agreed to widen the search to include other sectors and related backgrounds.
OutcomeBlackwood appointed the former CFO of a FTSE 10 global energy business. This individual had been a top rated CFO of an international FTSE business for many years with a sound understanding of operating within highly regulated industries and a demonstrable track record of leading large scale transactions and projects across borders. Timing worked in our favour as the successful individual was just beginning to wind down from a busy executive schedule that would have precluded a time consuming non-executive director role. This was the first time this particular client had successfully used a search firm to place a member of their board. Contact team members
RoleThe business wished to appoint as Non-Executive Director a former or current senior executive in a B2B distribution business who had integrated, consolidated and grown a business in a fragmented European market. Candidates required high levels of strategic ability and operational knowledge to support the team to enhance operating performance and create value. The ideal candidate would also have a track record of developing business through selling higher margin, full service offerings. Whilst distribution and B2B service was the key experience required, the client had a preference for someone who also had a healthcare background. As the CEO of the business was relatively new in the role, the client was keen to bring in a NED who could mentor him through the operational challenges of the distribution sector.
Search ProcessWe mapped current and former senior executives from PE and listed businesses across B2B healthcare services and broader distribution, emphasising in our research those companies that had grown significantly by acquisition in Europe and developed new revenue streams. We referenced candidates pre- approach and again during the shortlisting process, taking forward those who had the greatest balance of operational experience, strategic thinking, and a coaching/mentoring style.
OutcomeThe successful candidate had led the European division of a multi-million turnover logistic business, which had grown extensively through acquisition into many new markets throughout EMEA, and had developed from scratch a healthcare distribution franchise for the firm. Contact team members
RoleCandidates needed to have held listed company board roles previously and have recent retail executive experience. There was a requirement for the Supervisory Director to build relationships with a well-established, high-level supervisory board and to provide input to the executive management team through more informal channels. An ability to speak German or a willingness to operate through a translator was required.
Search ProcessBlackwood methodically mapped recently retired retail executives in Western Europe and assessed them against agreed criteria and for cultural fit. A small group of high calibre candidates was introduced to the Chairman.
OutcomeThe final candidate was a very recently retired executive director of a major UK based, international retailer with a broad range of international contacts within the sector and at government level. This was the first non-executive role taken by the candidate post retirement. Contact team members
RoleWith a wide range of opportunities for international expansion, the Board faced a number of significant strategic decisions and sought a Non-Executive Director with a deep understanding of premium food and beverage brands, experience of rolling out retail concepts and exposure to multiple operating models. In addition, experience in delivering early stage growth and working effectively with founders and investors was essential.
Search ProcessThe client had a preference for a proven Non-Executive and the search focused initially on Chairmen and plural Non-Executives with private equity experience, however this was broadened to include CEOs in order to find candidates with more current market exposure.
OutcomeThe successful candidate has a long career in the food industry, spanning branded food manufacturing and multi-site restaurant operations. A divisional CEO, this candidate has deep experience of operating in private equity-backed businesses and a strong track record in rolling out brands. Contact team members
RoleBlackwood was mandated to search for a Non-Executive Director with a finance background. Given the nature of the business, and that financial rigour, risk and compliance are vital for any financial service provider, this individual was also likely to be senior independent director. The potential for IPO made this hire even more critical. Candidates were likely to have a background as the CFO of a large listed entity with IPO and strong regulatory experience also being important factors. A working knowledge of the broad financial services sector was also preferable but not essential.
Search ProcessThe search process was relatively straightforward: a research stage followed by a targeted long list and then client interviews. The complexity came from two concurrent searches with two different providers – it was important to keep up to date with the progress with the other search as there was some overlap with the two specifications. In addition, the interview panel had two sets of candidates to meet in a relatively short space of time. However, we were able to move quickly due to our knowledge of the CFO market seeking NED roles of this nature. We had spent the prior six months speaking to the current and former FTSE 350 CFOs understanding their appetite/capacity for a NED role.
OutcomeBlackwood appointed the former CFO of a large listed global consumer and hospitality business. This individual had sound knowledge of the financial services sector, predominantly as a non-executive but had strong experience of IPOing businesses. This individual had strong non-executive director experience and was appointed senior independent director on joining the board and as Chairman soon thereafter. Contact team members
Amanda is the Managing Partner of Blackwood. She advises on leadership development and assessment, team effectiveness and senior appointments across investment banking, private equity and the boardroom. Prior to Blackwood, Amanda worked at Morgan Stanley; she spent ten years in Mergers & Acquisitions in London and New York before becoming COO of the Investment Banking Division EMEA. She is a certified professional executive coach, Meyler Campbell Mastered, AC and WABC accredited and qualified with the British Psychological Society in psychometrics, including Hogan, FIRO-B, NEO PI-R, Wave, G-LJI, LJI, Implicitly®, TKI and MBTI®. She read English and then Law at Cambridge University.
Alan is a Partner of Blackwood and works with both listed and private equity backed clients advising on CEO, CFO and Chair appointments and succession planning. He has extensive experience in senior level finance function appointments in particular. Prior to joining Blackwood, Alan worked at Heidrick & Struggles in the CFO Practice and has over 15 years’ search experience. Alan began his career as a consultant in the Oil & Gas industry. He read Economics at Strathclyde University.