Making the impossible possible – finding a new business unit head for a simulation software market leader
A US-based engineering simulation and 3D design software multinational was looking for a strong leader who would be able to build a new business unit from scratch and bridge the gap between the local and other international entities.
The client has been active in the market for more than 10 years having more than 200 people working in offices across the country. Unfortunately, the firm had become political and didn’t communicate well with other country organizations. Now, the client was looking for an experienced and internationally minded leader who would not only be able to be build a new business unit that would serve top tier automotive companies but also become a mediator between the local, regional and global organizations.
The biggest challenge was the extremely small number of qualified candidates as well as the strong resistance of those candidates to transition to a competitor. This made it almost impossible to engage anyone for this role – a fact the client was painfully aware of and that required a highly creative and personalized approach from our side.
Shortly after starting the search, we were able to identify a select few individuals that matched the client’s expectations.
While mapping the market, we also started to engage candidates we had been in contact with in the past. Two individuals stood out but both of them had – similar to their peers – no interest in changing jobs, not to mention joining a competitor. However, this didn’t keep us from asking one of them, an individual who was working for a direct competitor, if he would be willing to meet with the client at least for drinks. Ultimately, he agreed. Several meetings with the hiring manager and other team members in a casual setting followed. The VIP treatment as well as the outlook of creating a new unit and team from scratch sparked curiosity in the candidate who eventually decided to enter the interview process formally.
This posed a new challenge on the client who didn’t know how to transition from the previous casual communication to a proper interview process. We suggested to ask the candidate to give a presentation where he would lay out his vision for the future. The client loved the idea as well as the final presentation, which we collaborated with the candidate on.
However, there were still a few hurdles to overcome before both parties could get their happy ending. Since this was a new business unit, the client needed to get headcount approval from all board members in and outside the region. In the meantime, the candidate received an internal promotion from his current employer.
Fortunately, we were able to counter this successfully and after 7 months, the client was finally able to onboard their ideal candidate. By consistently engaging with both parties, showing the candidate the benefits of the transition as well as helping the client create an effective hiring process, we were able to turn a candidate who at the beginning had not been interested at all in changing jobs, let alone in joining a competitor, into a perfect-match hire.
The hiring manager who initially didn’t think he would find anybody for this role was more than happy about this big win.
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