Building the Executive Team

Building the Executive Team

Situation

In our business we have built senior management teams with established, public Fortune 500 companies as well as venture backed startups. The circumstances of each executive search are as diverse as the portfolio of companies we serve. Our process mandates that we take into account the organizational structure that surrounds the position. This perspective is often influential to our client’s mindset and strategy, bringing greater reward to their project.

When building an executive team, there is much to consider. Even with fiscal constraints and bottom lines in mind, short-term decisions are more costly than one might think.

In this Featured Project, we’re taking a look at the challenge that decision makers have when building an executive team: using a prioritized approach, establishing leader relationships, and measuring the influence of important roles is key to executive recruitment decisions.

Below, we offer three generalized examples of critical choices a client may bring with them in their efforts to strengthen and guide their executive team.

 

Challenge

When we speak with client’s about building their executive team, often their Sales and Commercial divisions have a certain genealogy that is important to observe. If a client’s plan is to find a sales force before the Vice President of Sales is in place, then they are definitely putting the cart before the horse. Most often, the VP of Sales has a network of contacts, methodology and past associations and infrastructure from which to build a team. He/she can usually fill in his own sales force with people that he knows well or can find his team through his many contacts in the industry. Working closely with top management, we resolve to identify a VP of Sales who can lead the organization’s commercial strategy by recruiting, onboarding, building and developing a sales team as strong as the leader at the helm. This has a dramatic effect not only on the organization of the company, but the strength, stamina, and growth of subsequent initiatives.

ASLON has worked with a number of companies going through organizational changes. Sometimes we see a client trying to hire a CFO before the new CEO has been appointed. The relationship between the CEO and CFO is a critical dynamic in the organization and it is imperative that these two leaders have a good, trusting rapport from the start. This relationship has been highlighted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which now holds both of these officers fully accountable. A savvy CFO candidate is often reluctant to take a job at a company where the CEO is not yet in place. ASLON has advised clients who are faced with one or two leadership needs to start at the top.  We have advised clients to hire the CEO first and involve him in the process to find a CFO. The power of relationships is critical to our search process because it is equally as vital to the deepest bonds of your company’s chemistry.

Lastly, in the mistaken idea to save time and money, some companies may try to hire one person to be the VP of Sales and Marketing: two jobs with very different requirements. In the long run it is better to hire a person with experience in leading a sales organization and another person whose main focus would be the marketing and positioning of the company in order to obtain the results the company is seeking. When a company hires us, we know we have to make choices that represent them well for the long term. The only way to do this with honesty and effectiveness is to offer sound advice for building a long-term executive team. In this regard, we separated the Sales and Marketing leadership roles, and delivered substantial, prudent advice made real by the leaders we provided.

Solution

As a retained executive search firm, our responsibility is to use marketplace intelligence, organizational vision, and deep partnership with our clients to deliver great leaders who fit the organization’s culture and goals. From the initial client meeting to the assimilation of the finalist, we operate with a rich history of experience informing our approach. Not all searches are looking for or need re-thinking of the sort played out in the case studies above. But all C-Suite level searches need a partner with that capacity, that versatility of thought and perspective to help make choices and identify leaders that not only serve the immediate functional need, but benefit the company for many generations to come.

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