Placement Archive

US winery onboards new GM within 2 months of search initiation

The Client

The client, a California-based winery and distributor, was looking for a Japan CM to lead a major distribution revamp. Because the position was vacant and critical to a major project that would transform their Japan organization, the client was on a tight schedule to fill the brief.

The Challenge

The most critical challenge we would face was the condensed timeframe for the search. The client’s project would kick off within a month of search commencement, and we would need to identify and sign a candidate during that time. The company had had a major presence in Japan for 10 years but significantly downsized its presence after the global recession. At that time the company decided to move its Asia HQ from Japan to Hong Kong – a move that left a negative employer brand in the market.

The client knew the preponderance of candidates available in the market would be of Japanese nationality. The client had had 3 Japanese nationals as Country Managers over the previous 5 years and was open to consider another, but they preferred this time a non-Japanese candidate with excellent market and industry knowledge. Because the Client had run this exact search twice in the past 3 years they had seen many of the available candidates in the market already. These points would substantially decrease our potential talent pool, requiring us to make a detailed and thorough sweep of the market.

Our Solution

We assembled a project team of 4 people including a lead consultant, a data researcher, and 2 voice researchers to drive market outreach. Within 2 weeks of start we completed a comprehensive map of the wines and spirits market in Japan, identifying the senior talent across it.

Because the client had run this same search twice before in the recent past, they expressed surprise to see us quickly produce several high calibre candidates whom they had never heard about. From this map we put together a shortlist that included a priority candidate very closely meeting the requirements and preferences of the client.

The roster of backups was also strong and included a top-tier candidate who had successfully worked for the client prior to the restructuring. Since then he had gone on to do continued high level work in the industry. Although the Client did not select the candidate, they were happy to reconnect with him during the search process as he was able to give the Client insights into how the company was perceived in the market.

The eventually selected candidate had an excellent reputation in the industry, and a long-running relationship with the major distribution partner they were working with. As US national with complete fluency in Japanese he was a strong fit to the client’s culture and values, and highly motivated by the challenges offered by the role. He had spent his entire adult life in Japan, developed strong relationships within the industry, and felt the role was a very logical progression to his career to date.

From search kick-off to offer acceptance the entire process took less than a month. We continue to partner with the client on other regional searches as the client continues to scale its Asia operations. ​

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