We were retained by the Group CEO of one the world’s largest, market leading, multi-category consumer electronics companies to find their first SVP and Chief Digital Officer to be based in New York. The role was defined as Chief Digital Officer and had end-to-end responsibility for all online sales channels for the company’s myriad of consumer electronics products. This was made more challenging as this company had never sold products directly to consumers in the past preferring instead to rely on their global channel partners. As such, this was a start-up within a $100B+ revenue business.
This global behemoth had a unique culture which has been known at times to conflict with the American way of doing business. Besides finding the right type of leader who could work within this culture, we needed someone who could bootstrap an online and ecommerce channel from scratch.
This search was truly global in nature – while the preferred location was New York City, the client was open to basing the role in several other international locations due to the company’s size and geographic reach.
Given the hi-tech nature of the brand, the company’s global success and high levels of ambition, our client had a very specific view of where this leader would come from. There was a high degree of focus on all the world’s biggest ecommerce companies, especially pureplay and digitally native brands as well as market leading travel, hospitality, consumer services and hi-tech companies. We needed to satisfy our partner’s hunger for a ‘big name hire’ from a company of suitable prestige with a leader who had the modesty, self-awareness and patience to work in the company’s hierarchical structure and culture.
After six weeks of searching, we presented a long list of 12 candidates from which our client hand selected a shortlist of four to go through more rigorous screening and testing.
After just over three months, we successfully identified a leader who had been at several of the world’s leading ecommerce companies and relocated him and his family from the West Coast to New York City. This leader remains in role today and has been viewed as a great success with the online business globally generating billions.
We partnered with our client to find an SVP Digital following a period of unprecedented ecommerce revenue growth.
Working with the Chief Customer Officer, the successful candidate would be tasked with building the function from the ground up, rebranding the digital presence and integrating more closely with the physical stores to ensure a more cohesive omnichannel experience. This individual would oversee merchandising, product management, user experience and digital analytics. They would also be responsible for driving omnichannel initiatives, such as BOPIS, Ship to Home and Curb Side Pick Up.
Given the nature of this search, we agreed to focus on direct-to-consumer businesses. We would initially focus on retail and ecommerce; however, we would also map hospitality, travel and consumer services. We prioritized a refined list of companies with a strong digital presence. We also needed to find an individual who was comfortable building from low points of maturity.
The search was delivered with both quality and speed, taking under two months from briefing to completion. We identified over 470 candidates, mapping the retail, travel and hospitality sectors in the US. We placed a conscious effort on delivering a diverse shortlist and presented six candidates with 50% female diversity. The successful candidate was a female from a well-renowned retailer that was twice the size of our client company.
Our partner was an established retail business with a respected brand presence in the UK and many overseas markets. With a long and illustrious history of physical, store-based retail, they needed to adapt in the digital world. Having created a standalone ecommerce business, they were seeking an experienced leader who could integrate ecommerce into the core of the traditional business, across all product lines. A significant challenge to the assignment was the ‘island mentality’ that had developed between the digital and traditional businesses. Furthermore, this leader needed to be technically strong and comfortable getting into the detail wherever necessary.The brief required a digitally savvy leader with excellent interpersonal skills and strong empathy to break down the silos that had developed.
From the outset, we developed a search strategy that maximized the potential candidate pool by focusing our research efforts on relevant multichannel and pure play ecommerce companies in the UK, Continental Europe and the US. We mapped over 120 target companies and identified not just the leader performing the relevant role, but also deputies who could arguably be a stronger fit given the nature of the brief.
Our final shortlist included candidates from France, Germany, the US and the UK. The successful candidate was a female leader with a background in progressive ecommerce development who was previously the Chief Customer Officer for a well-known UK retailer.