Placement Archive

1 month to find a VP for a pre-IPO software licensing firm after 1 year of unsuccessful search effort

The Client

The client is a pre-IPO Swiss-based software license and services company. They requested our help with placing a Regional VP Sales, a senior executive with strong software licensing and consulting experience, a demonstrated ability to scale revenue significantly, and capacity to assist the client’s transition into a consulting business over the coming five years.

The Challenge

The client had been trying to fill the role for 1 year through their own network as well as a succession of outside agencies. They had interviewed over 30 people prior to approaching us but the candidates were either too junior or lacked adequate experience.

They wanted a heavyweight executive. Someone who had lead a minimum 200 person/$200M+ business.

Being a private company they had significant limitations on what they felt they could spend for the role. In addition, there persisted a general impression in the market that the firm was niche and in a highly competitive space vis a vis its domestic reseller and SIer competitors.

Through the course of the client’s previous search efforts, numerous potentially qualified executives in the market were approached about the role but without a coherent presentation of the opportunity.

Finally, although the hiring manager was highly successful, he was quite young which had the potential to further limit the pool of interested candidates.

Our Solution

We put together a team of 3 to map the market and identify potential candidates within key targets in the software and consulting industries.

In parallel, we pulled together data based on our historical market research to show the client what a normal compensation package looked like for candidates in roles of this level. The client agreed that further flexibility would be required along these lines. Although our search approach was relatively standard, we knew we needed a very high level of preparation in terms of framing the opportunity, the requirements, and the client’s brand. There were challenges inherent in the role that would attract candidates with a desire to do something difficult and which if overcome would have significant impact on the company as it prepared to IPO. We would also focus on what the client would be in 5 years rather than where they were at that point in time.

Our shortlist contained 5 candidates, of which the client narrowed to 2, one from software and one from consulting. The background of the candidate they preferred and successfully on-boarded met all expectations: current software experience, past consulting industry experience, large-scale people management, revenue growth, and recognition within the industry as a first-rate leader.

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