An entire Executive Team, from scratch

Read time: 3 minutes

Searches that bring about the appointment of a single key executive role are commonplace, but the appointment of an entire executive team represents an altogether different proposition!

Our client was the recently appointed CEO of a large, geographically dispersed water and sewerage utility. The organisation was experiencing significant operational and cultural upheaval, brought about by the partial amalgamation of 27 smaller operations into three regional entities plus a shared service provider.

Having been charged with orchestrating the merger of all four organisations into a single, commercially focused entity, the CEO’s first challenge was to identify eight leaders through whom he would execute the change agenda to deliver significant cultural and service delivery reform.

Partnering with the CEO to fully understand his goals and the challenges ahead, Red Giant was able to provide strategic input into the design of all eight General Management positions encompassing strategy and stakeholder relations, finance and commercial services, human resources, legal services, asset management, works delivery, operations and maintenance and retail customer service.

Critically, we also identified the need to appoint not only eight individuals with the capacity and capability to deliver within their own areas of responsibility, but also to assemble a bespoke team with the precise mix of skills, insights and leadership attributes to foster collegiality and unity. Given the size of the challenge that lay ahead, this would need to be a high performing team first and foremost.

Commencing the search in June 2013, Red Giant quickly garnered interest from candidates across Tasmania, throughout Australia and from overseas. We undertook broad-ranging research into our client’s industry sector, leveraging trusted sources and network contacts to identify and approach candidates of potential interest.

Contained within the mix of candidates was a large number of internal applicants, each experiencing firsthand the impact of change on their positions and the uncertainty that competitive selection processes create. This required the consistent and respectful application of merit-based selection techniques, with every effort being made to ensure that the candidates’ experience was a positive one.

In less than six weeks, some 820 applications were received, acknowledged and assessed and more than 100 behavioural interviews staged before compiling the final shortlists for each role. From a logistics standpoint alone, the sheer volume of interviews and candidate conversations taking place necessitated the application of a rigorous project management methodology. Candidate contact was diligently recorded and regular process updates provided to ensure that everyone remained engaged and excited at the opportunities ahead. Our client was continually appraised and advised so that consideration could be given to the on-boarding process ahead of the actual appointments.

With our final shortlist endorsed, Red Giant’s Executive Search Director joined the CEO for the final round of interviews, providing expert advice around fit and alignment with continual reference to the various team combinations available.

Finally, with selection decisions now made, Red Giant facilitated offer negotiations leading to the successful appointment of eight new General Managers in August 2013; three Tasmanian candidates and five interstate candidates just eight weeks after commencing the search.

This assignment showcases Red Giant’s broad capability and capacity to respond to challenging client briefs in a very short timeframe. It further highlights the focus we place on the alignment of individuals to the specific, technical requirements of the roles they are applying for, and to the importance of cultural fit and integration within leadership team structures and dynamics. It also demonstrates that through adoption of a partnership approach, we are not only capable of meeting our clients’ needs, but can also contribute to the achievement of the organisation’s vision through value management and the provision of strategic HR advice.

Ignite the Spark