Zego, the UK’s first insurtech unicorn, has a unique motor insurance model that enables gig-economy drivers and riders to choose policies that run from an hour up to a year. They needed a commercially-minded general manager to lead and develop their largest business unit to help them achieve their ambitious growth plans.
Zego is the brainchild of its inspirational Estonian co-founder and CEO, Sten Saar, and it was important to him to find someone whose values aligned with the business. This meant research was key to our approach in finding the right candidates for our shortlist. We cast a wide net, going beyond the traditional insurance and tech markets, to search across super-high growth tech and digital brands in consumer and business services. We then assessed candidates to identify people whose values and attitudes best aligned with Sten and the business.
Delivering not one, but three, successful candidates
Zego chose three exceptional candidates from our shortlist. They offered one person another role within the business, which they accepted, and tried to find a role for a second person. And they were delighted with the successful candidate for the MD role – a Brazilian national with a great blend of corporate and scale-up experience.
When Cairngorm Capital acquired Whyte Bikes they had a clear plan for developing the brand, diversifying sales and pivoting to a direct-to-consumer model. They also wanted to look outside the historically male biking industry to find an innovative Chief Marketing Officer to transform their brand, build their customer community and help them grow internationally.
We explored disruptor consumer technology brands, and the nutrition, sports, lifestyle, fashion and mobility industries, and found a number of qualified executives. But the person who stood out was the woman who’d helped Sweaty Betty achieve success and growth internationally. She understood what it takes to market a business with an immense product offering, but with little-to-no brand positioning. She was also a mountain biker and owned a Whyte Bike – so was already a fan. Under Chris Sartori’s marketing leadership, Whyte Bikes’ digital footprint has increased massively – and she’s hitting milestones they’ve never reached before. She’s also grown the brand’s community, which will result in a measurable return on investment for Cairngorm Capital.
Mews is a software as a service (SaaS) company that’s transforming the hospitality industry with a cloud-based system that simplifies and automates all operations from bookings to check-out. They asked us to find a tried-and-tested Chief Customer Officer who also had experience in scaling a customer success business from Series B funding to IPO.
Finding someone to act as the ‘voice of the customer’
Customer success functions, which are focused on on-boarding, account growth and retention, are a relatively new concept – which means there are very few world-class leaders in the field. Added to that challenge was the fact that most people who lead a business through its IPO journey typically move into advisory, investment or consulting roles, which reduces the talent pool further.
We conducted a global search to identify best-in-class SaaS Chief Customer Officers. This resulted in the appointment of a high-profile industry thought leader who had exactly the right blend of functional and situational experience.
And the customer success and investor communities have reacted positively to the appointment of such a high profile candidate.
Creditinfo Group is an Icelandic credit bureau and information services company operating in more than 30 countries. When private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners acquired them in 2021 they had a clear objective for expanding internationally and centralising this highly dispersed group.
Setting out a search strategy to achieve success
The CFO role is based in France and London, so we needed to take a broad approach in our search. We worked closely with Levine Leichtman to gain a deep understanding of their needs and set out a search strategy. We also took a creative approach, looking beyond the European financial services sector, to identify a wide range of regions and markets to focus on during our search.
Speed was of the essence in this assignment. So we drew on the power of our networks when identifying and approaching potential candidates, and carried out pre-referencing to help us move at pace.
From our shortlist of suitable candidates, Levine Leichtman and Creditinfo’s CEO would have happily hired two people. The candidate they ultimately chose brought prior private equity experience and a track record of financial expertise.
Altrata (previously known as Euromoney People Intelligence), had been engaged in an ambitious acquisition strategy to cement their position as the market leader in global people intelligence. After acquiring five unique data businesses, they recognised a need for someone who could help them unify their products and create a roadmap for delivering them. So they asked us to help them find their first Chief Innovation and Product Officer.
Thinking creatively to deliver diversity
We focused our search on identifying, engaging and assessing the best business-to-business data as a service (DaaS) product leaders across North America. This is a small and highly-in-demand talent pool, so when Altrata also asked us to find a highly diverse shortlist from the potential candidates available, we had to think creatively to find the hidden stars we might have missed if we’d taken a traditional approach to executive search.
We found an excellent candidate who met all of Altrata’s requirements – but who we lost out on due to a counter offer. We were confident they were the best fit, so we stayed in touch and two months later they accepted the role.
Diversey supplies cleaning and hygiene products to the hospitality, healthcare, food and beverage, food service, retail, and facility management sectors. Their CEO, Phil Wieland, had been leading a significant transformation process – focusing on their way of working, global efficiencies, developing a modern environment, and creating a much more diverse leadership team. As part of this strategy, he decided to bring in a dynamic and growth-minded President to lead the business through its next phase of growth in North America.
Finding a highly diverse shortlist
We cast a wide net to identify people in key leadership roles, including general managers, managing directors, CEOs and regional presidents. Our search crossed a variety of industries that sell through distributors, including cleaning products and chemicals, industrial manufacturing, service providers, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and semiconductors and electrical components.
Diversey were delighted with our standout candidate – a strong female leader with significant experience in transforming and growing complex industrial organisations in North America.