The Challenge

Our client was a Swiss-based Fortune 100 business and leader in its sector, looking to find a new CFO to replace a long-standing and externally highly respected incumbent. The Chairman and CEO were convinced that they had no compelling internal candidates. They asked a leading international search firm to help them but were unhappy with the quality of the candidates they came up with and so they came to us to lead a new global search for the best external option.


Our Approach

We kicked off the process by spending time individually with the Chairman, the CEO and the CHRO to get their perspectives on the challenges the business in general and the Finance function in particular faced and in that context to explore the optimal profile for the incoming CFO. Based on this, we agreed the brief for the role.

Having understood the candidates that had already been covered by the first search, we conducted comprehensive global research both in our client’s industry as well as in analogous sectors, to develop a full audit of the external landscape and to identify potential new candidates. We then approached the most promising individuals to gauge their possible interest in such a role and willingness to relocate to Switzerland – without disclosing our client’s identity at this stage – and interviewed about 20 candidates to assess their detailed fit with the desired profile. From this, we developed our longlist of most attractive options.

We discussed this longlist with the CEO and CHRO and agreed a shortlist of six candidates that he wanted to meet; of these, three were from outside the sector and there was a broad spread of nationalities (three Germans, one American, one Dutchman and one Englishman). Having spoken to the candidates to reveal who our client was and to confirm their continued interest, we then arranged initial interviews and provided detailed reports on each candidate.

The CEO quickly honed in on two individuals that he was most excited by, both of whom then met the Chairman. They mutually agreed their preferred candidate and we then supported them through an extensive and delicate process of securing his release from his existing contract with a DAX 30 industrial business in Germany, as well as working through the practicalities of relocation for the new CFO and his family.

The Outcome

The CFO has settled in well, making a particularly strong impact with investors whilst quickly establishing himself as the strategic business partner that the CEO was looking for.