The Challenge

Our client was a UK-based international Fortune 100 business, where the Chairman was planning to stand down. The business had performed well under his watch, although a couple of activist investors had recently taken modest stakes and questions were being raised about
the long-term strategy for and shape of
the group.

The Board was keen therefore to find a strong, surefooted successor to the Chairman role.

Our Approach

The business was one we knew well, having conducted its Board work over several years. Nevertheless, we started by speaking individually with the Senior Independent Director (who was leading the process), the Chairman, CEO and each Nominations Committee member to get their thoughts on the major challenges facing the business and the Board, their expectations of the role of, time commitment from and priorities for the new Chairman and, in that context, the desired profile, experience and capabilities of the optimal candidate.

Based on these discussions, we agreed a brief that was signed off by the full Board.

Given the scale and complexity of the business, the field of potential candidates was a relatively tight one. We used structured research and our own existing market experience to identify candidates in the UK, North America and Continental Europe with the capabilities and potential capacity to play the role. We approached them (initially on a ‘no-names’ basis, to preserve confidentiality) to gauge their appetite and interest for this sort of opportunity.

We then discussed our emerging longlist of possible candidates with the Nominations Committee and agreed a shortlist of five individuals formally to be approached. The shortlists contained candidates from the US, Germany and India, as well as from the UK.

The shortlisted candidates met initially with the Chairman and, separately with the CEO to check how well the chemistry between them worked. Based on his feedback, together with our initial references, three individuals were selected for interviews with the rest of the Nominations Committee.

From these interviews, the Committee unanimously selected a preferred candidate; he was then approved by the Board, who had been kept abreast of the process at every stage. When the appointment was announced; the name of the chosen Chairman (and the other shortlist candidates) had been successfully kept confidential throughout the process.

The Outcome

The new Chairman has now been in place for approaching three years, during which time the business has performed well in a challenging market.

Investors are happy with the progress being made on the key strategic issues, whilst the relationship between the Chairman and CEO – who did not previously know each other – is a constructive and productive one.