The Client is a US multinational conglomerate dealing with engineering services, consumer and enterprise products, aerospace systems, and other business lines. They came to us to help them find a Regional VP to run their growing Energy vertical, someone with exceptional experience in driving massive projects across the Asia Pac region.
The assignment presented several challenges, the first of which was to identify someone with relevant industry experience along with significant success, scale, and multiculturalism in his pedigree. As this particular assignment would be based in Japan and would ideally target senior folks from the major trading houses specializing in energy and the EPC space, finessing cultural fit would be exceptionally difficult. Other issues included little exposure hiring within this market by key members of the hiring team, relatively long process which would ultimately place stress on the durability of the shortlist, a requirement by client to find candidates from tier 1s in a market where the client was perceived as tier 2, and finally a mismatch between client and candidate compensation structure expectations.
At the outset we determined that the identified challenges would simply need to be worked around, as the client had very set ideas about the search process, what kinds of candidates were realistically within reach, and what terms of hire should be. Our objective would be to present the market to the client and then work the client through the process of adjusting expectations based on market data and response. Because the client felt the candidate should come from one of the major Japanese tier 1 trading houses (Sumitomo, Mitsui, Mitsubishi, etc) as a first step we identified and vetted all potential prospects within each. Virtually all were approaching retirement with significant pension benefits in the balance, and none were open to consider a move that might risk losing that. We expanded our coverage and identified a shortlist of four candidates of significant interest to the client. Though we again encountered complications related to golden cuff retirement benefits, we were ultimately able to steer both parties to a compromise that successfully brought the client’s #1 prospect into the firm.