case study two - Gerard Stewart

CEO Search for a Privately Held Professional Services Firm
Recently, a privately held, $320 million-dollar organization called on Gerard Stewart to identify and secure a new Chief Executive Officer.

The ideal successor (as described by the company’s current founder and CEO) was a person who was capable of optimizing the organization’s resources, generate cost savings, and promote innovative customer solutions, all while upholding the values and vision of the organization. Additionally, the new CEO had to ensure a strategic vision for the company’s six unique divisions.

The multifaceted search included the Board of Directors and members of the family involved in the organization’s leadership. Balancing the veteran board members’ experiences and expertise with that of the family’s required a high level of skill and sensitivity. The organization’s current CEO desired a candidate who would not only uphold the organization’s family culture, but who would also approach the role as an opportunity to build a long term legacy. Likewise, the Board of Directors and family leadership preferred a candidate who would create a new vision, resume the commitment of the current leadership, and demonstrate the strategies and fortitude to deliver that vision.

Since an internal candidate was not an option, the organization focused on locating an individual who had the right combination of skills to work within the organization’s culture and navigate the organization to realize its highest potential.

The CEO, Board of Directors and the family wanted an experienced search partner (Gerard Stewart) to:

  • Act as a collaborative partner and build trust where the search firm acts as an extension of the client company
  • Delve into the needs of the company as well as the needs of the family leadership, Board, and other stakeholders
  • Draw on a breadth of industry experiences and contacts to generate a pool of potential candidates
  • Locate an ideal candidate and benchmark additional superior caliber candidates
  • Share the opportunity and the company’s vision for the future with only the best-aligned candidates
  • Employ a sensitive approach to the personal and professional nature of the decision making process
  • Foster consensus amongst the search panel of family and non-family member executives with disparate interests
  • Evaluate and secure a candidate who is motivated, possesses the values and vision of the organization, and is a cultural fit.

During the active 3-month window of the search, Gerard Stewart accessed industry contacts and established research processes to generate a pool of highly qualified candidates.

The partnership of trust between Gerard Stewart and the client helped to quickly establish the most valuable criteria to meet the needs of the current CEO, the family, board, and the overall organization.

Recognizing the high importance of a cultural fit within a family company was essential for the successful completion of the search.

After drawing on the candidate criteria to narrow the pool to the most qualified candidates, Gerard Stewart took a closer look at the cultural fit. The CEO finalists were posed a selection of questions around motivation, organizational priorities, market interests, and growth strategies. Their responses to these questions provided additional insight into each candidate’s self-perception and ability to strategize and plan for future business growth. Richer insights into each candidate’s perspective helped to alleviate concerns the family and others in key leadership positions had around cultural fit.

From beginning to end of the search process, one of the earliest chosen candidates stood out and was ultimately selected as the new CEO. While other candidates were motivated around equity or a potential transaction to create wealth, our ideal candidate envisioned and articulated her plan to create a lasting legacy within the organization. In particular, her expertise in the areas of Sales and Operations across a variety of industries and her understanding of the culture of a family-run organization made her an elite candidate.

During her 10+ year tenure as Senior Vice President with a nationally renowned professional staffing organization, the company saw a 250% increase in revenue. A clearly seasoned leader in the staffing industry, she demonstrated the vision necessary to foster business growth.

Gerard Stewart approached this search by utilizing their industry acumen, focused research, and thoughtfully probing candidate motivation for a privately owned organization. For Gerard Stewart there are no cookie cutter criteria that can be applied across all organizations and scenarios. Rather, they specialize in meeting the particular needs of the organization’s leadership, direction and overall company culture.