Managing all APAC finance operations of CooperVision, the 3rd largest global provider of soft contact lenses based out of California (US), Kerry Chung is constantly on the move. To accomplish the huge task of overlooking the accounting, forecasting and strategic initiatives of 8 locations across the region Kerry relies on the dedicated support of the right people on the ground.
In 2018, after its former Director had announced his retirement, Kerry’s team in Japan needed a strong new leader who would be able to navigate Asia’s most demanding market.
“The former Director had been with us for many years but was retiring so we needed to find a qualified successor. We saw this as an opportunity to bring in some fresh new thinking as well as re-energize the leadership team. That’s why we didn’t only look for the right skill set. Of course, the ideal candidate needed to have a lot of experience in finance and accounting. But at the same time, we were hoping to find a dynamic leader who would be comfortable to work with the commercial team including sales, marketing and customer support as well as to contribute his or her own opinions related to the business.
To be honest, at the beginning of the search we weren’t sure if somebody like this existed in the Japanese market. Japan has a strong pool of accountants, but they are rather administration focused than strategic business thinkers.
They took the time to really understand what we were looking for and asked fantastic questions focusing mainly on the mindset of the ideal candidate – exactly the point we were most concerned about.
In addition, our finance team is quite small here in the region, so we were looking for somebody who could be hands-on. This kind of roll-up-your-sleeves mentality is very important for us at CooperVision. Even our regional President is still getting on the phone with customers – not only because he enjoys it but also because he thinks it’s important to lead by example. Unfortunately, in Japan, once a person has reached a certain level they’re not so used to doing the day-to-day work. So, we were concerned if we could find a senior professional who would fit into our culture.”
To tackle this hiring challenge, Kerry needed a strong and trustworthy partner.
“Relying on Boyd & Moore Executive Search (BMES) was a no-brainer for us. For me, it was the first time working with them but not for CooperVision. BMES had helped us find our current HR Director for Japan who immediately directed me to them when I started to look for a Head of Finance.
From the start I was very impressed by William’s (Senior Consultant, Professional Services – Finance & Accounting) and Victor’s (Director, Professional Services) approach. We kicked off the search with a briefing call where I essentially explained the details and requirements of the role. During that call, they took the time to really understand what we were looking for and asked fantastic questions focusing mainly on the mindset of the ideal candidate – exactly the point we were most concerned about. I really felt that they understood the challenges, especially the ones related to culture fit here in APAC.”
The positive surprises didn’t end with the initial meeting for Kerry.
“It was an outstanding experience.
First of all, the level of transparency was astounding. At the beginning of the search, William shared with us a comprehensive list of possible candidates for our search indicating with which candidates they had spoken and what their feedback was. I had been working with search vendors before, but I had never seen anything like this. It was like a peek behind the recruitment curtain. I felt very comfortable and extremely well informed throughout the entire process.
The insights we received also helped us refine the course of the search. As I said we weren’t quite sure if there were actually any candidates in the market that would provide the skills and the mindset we were looking for. But once William and his team had mapped the market and had presented us with the first profiles we began to see potential and to get more confident about the specific requirements of the ideal candidate.
I had been working with search vendors before, but I had never seen anything like this. It was like a peek behind the recruitment curtain. I felt very comfortable and extremely well informed throughout the entire process.
After that it didn’t take long for William to present us with a selection of 6 to 7 qualified candidates. At this stage he advised me to come to Tokyo and meet the candidates in person. I agreed, and William went ahead to schedule interviews with all candidates within the week I said I would be in Tokyo. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. I mean, we’re talking about top-level finance executives in Japan with a very busy schedule.
Looking back at the process, I am very thankful for William’s recommendation. It was a great decision to make time and meet every candidate in person during this one week. This gave me the opportunity to compare the candidates in real time. You know, when interviews get spread out over several weeks it’s not really effective. Mostly you can’t even remember the candidate you met the week before (laughs).
All in all, the process was extremely smooth and proceeded quickly. Well, there were a few delays but that was mostly down to our internal process. Especially within the later rounds of interviews, it took time to set up since we needed to schedule them with our top executives, including the global CFO in San Francisco.
William was extremely helpful during that time as well. He made sure to explain the delay to the finalists, manage their expectations and keep them engaged. I think he provided a very good experience to our candidates. This helped us to navigate through the process and finally onboard the candidate we wanted.”
For the future, Kerry sees further potential for enhancing the partnership between CooperVision and BMES.
“If I look at the leadership team in Japan, I see several people who will reach retirement age in the near future. At that point we will be either promoting from within or hiring externally. If that’s the case, there is no doubt that we will be more than happy to partner again with BMES.”