Blackwood’s finance and strategy practice has established itself as the leading boutique finance practice in the UK. Our specialism in pan-European private equity appointments has now been supplemented with FTSE 100 & 250 searches. We work on a cross sector basis and with global reach, placing international executives onto boards, predominantly in the UK and in Europe.
We have a holistic and committed approach to our search process, conducting the very highest quality research to identify the best talent for our clients. This identification process is backed up by early and on-going referencing and is complemented by transparent interaction with candidates and clients. Our ‘one team,’ fully integrated approach ensures that we leverage the knowledge and experience of our colleagues in specific sector teams to complement our own networks within the finance function.
In addition to placing CFOs, we handle assignments in the following areas:
Charlee works on assignments across all practice areas. Prior to joining Blackwood, Charlee worked at Walker Hamill focussing on finance appointments across all sectors. She read Geography at Sussex University.
Simon works on assignments in the Financial Officers Practice. Prior to joining Blackwood, Simon worked for a specialist financial recruitment company. He began his career at PwC in Audit and Business Recovery. He read Accounting and Finance at Sheffield University.
Blackwood’s client is a private equity owned specialist retailer with over 1000 stores across Europe under a number of different fascia. The European business is an autonomous but fully owned subsidiary of a previously listed US entity. European revenues are in excess of $800m. Global revenues are in excess of $3bn. The business was acquired recently by a tier 1 global private equity fund and took the decision to supplement the management team in Europe with the appointment of a highly commercial and experienced CFO.
Blackwood worked closely with the CEO and investors to clearly define the criteria for this appointment. The two key requirements were to identify and attract a proven CFO with a track record of transforming the performance of a finance function in a private equity setting with significant experience of the retail and/or leisure sectors. The individual needed to be able to be a commercial business partner to the CEO and build relationships and credibility with the business, sponsors and banking community. It was also noted that the candidate needed to exhibit cultural sensitivity in order to fit into a well-established senior team.
It was considered that a relatively small pool of suitable candidates existed with successful experience in a relevant sector, a privately held business of requisite scale. It was also noted that many candidates with such desired experience would likely be tied into a current project and unable to move. An added complication was the divisional nature of the role in a reporting line, albeit the region was run very much at arms-length. The location was also a factor, with certain candidates not keen to relocate. A constant challenge in the assessment process was to find CFO candidates with a demonstrable track record of adding value away from the core finance remit.
Blackwood appointed the former CFO of several private equity owned retail and leisure businesses. The process was completed in 10 weeks, from commencement of the assignment to the successful candidate signing a contract. The long list consisted of a cross section of the market and 15 names. The shortlist consisted of five candidates. Three were taken through to second round and the clear favourite was offered the role and negotiated his exit having helped identify a successor. Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.
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.
Chris works on assignments in the Financial Officers Practice with a focus on advising private equity-backed businesses. He is also responsible for the firm’s activities in the North and Midlands, advising businesses on board level management changes. He read French and German at Oxford University.
Louisa is an Administrator in Blackwood’s Finance, Administration and IT Group, and works with the CFO team. Before Blackwood, Louisa worked at a boutique recruitment firm, specialising in administration and PA support. She read Sociology at Leicester University.
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