Due to sustained growth and unexpected, non-performance related reasons, our Private Equity client found themselves seeking a CEO only 9 months after appointing one to its newly acquired portfolio company. Our client had acquired a founder-led business of 20+ years offering tailored services in both small and large molecule bioanalysis, brought in its own CEO, and suddenly found itself without a leader. The search was assigned to two other firms who worked the market for 6 months to no avail. When a new Board member was appointed, it was suggested they contact 3D CRO Group.
We had not previously represented this firm nor the organization on an executive search, and therefore, spent much time getting to know the company, its objectives, structure, and environment. We worked directly with the Chairperson, an Operating Partner of the Private Equity firm, and he was articulate about the expectations for the role, and ideal candidate qualifications, including the intangible traits that would be important for a strong cultural fit. He was candid about why things did not work out with the past two search firms and how critically important it was we moved quickly and efficiently.
The Chairperson wanted to expedite the search and begin recruitment activities immediately. It was mid November, and while we were able to begin the search, we were aware of the potential challenges that we might encounter beginning a search so close to the holidays. We were also concerned with attracting candidates that time of year with many executives expecting bonuses to be paid in January or later in the first quarter. We discussed these concerns openly with the Chairperson, and he respected and appreciated us being forthright. We jointly decided to begin the search immediately since all parties understood the potential issues.
Having ascertained much of the required information in meetings with the Chairperson, we dug in deeper to understand the key attributes, goals, and expectations for the role. From this point we were able to craft a position description as well as a tailored search plan to ensure success.
Due to the specific qualifications and traits desired, it was necessary to conduct a national search targeting high-level individuals within competing organizations to our client in addition to those “just off-center of the bullseye”. We targeted our focus on executives that had varied preclinical CRO backgrounds, multi-region experience related to the integration of several sites, past involvement with M&A, and a combination of sales and operational expertise.
Our client was presented with diverse candidate options and interviewed candidates from several states, an overwhelming majority of which 3D CRO Group already had an existing relationship. They came from a variety of organizations, including multi-national publicly traded CROs, Private Equity controlled CROs, and small, nimble CROs that were seeing strong growth.
Despite our initial concerns about beginning the search process in November, we completed the assignment in two and a half months. The client was highly collaborative, which made the assignment flow smoothly.
The Chairperson and Board selected a professional who had held his first CEO position with an indirect competitor. The individual had recently led the successful sale of that company to a Private Equity firm where he stayed on as a consultant for a short period to assist with the transition. His background included a PhD in Analytical Chemistry, and he had spent several years working at two separate Big Pharma companies before transitioning into executive leadership positions within pharma services. His professional references described him as having a strong reputation for combining strategic and systems thinking, building strategic alignment and commitment, and developing others. They said he develops trust and is an inspirational and aspirational leader.
We have spoken with the client and candidate many times since completing the assignment to ensure the transition continues to progress smoothly. As a bonus, we were awarded the opportunity to fulfill a VP of Business Development search in direct collaboration with the CEO we placed. Both successful searches led to numerous wins for all stakeholders.