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Delivering the perfect MD for a family-run technology firm


Our telecommunications client were looking for a new MD to grow the business from £2m turnover to £10m within 5 years. 

The brief

As a major supplier of broadband and wider telecommunications services to the North West of England, our client were looking for a new MD to help them achieve their exponential growth strategy over the next 5 years. 

As a relatively medium sized firm with a £2m turnover, making the leap to £5m+ within 2 years, and £10m+ within 5 years, was going to require someone special. Although a family run business since its inception in 1999, the existing owner acknowledged a lack of strategic expertise internally that would achieve the requisite growth. 

Identifying the main challenges

Our client had been on the lookout for a potential MD over the previous 12 months, including advertising the role in local media publications and social media platforms. Neither of these had delivered any suitable candidates – but had incurred significant cost and time in trawling through a substantial number of responses. 

We spent a full day onsite at the client’s main office to get a really good understanding of the business and, really importantly, the cultural feel of the workplace. Having reviewed the client’s previous attempts to recruit this individual, we identified the key challenges as follows:

  • Location – the main office was quite rural due to the family base
  • Culture – there was an intimate feel to the business that often comes with family run organisations. Most of the existing employees knew the family in advance of employment. This was likely to provide quite a cultural challenge for an in-coming MD looking to significantly grow the business whilst the existing owners retained oversight.
  • Sector experience – identifying an individual who had experience of delivering significant growth in the sector

Delivering the assignment

We undertook an in-depth search, casting a broad net across the whole UK, despite the location challenge. We often find candidates are open to relocation for the right opportunity so we were keen not to limit the search purely based on the location factor.

To address the cultural aspects, every candidate completed a detailed psychometric assessment. This provided the insight to each individual’s personality and characteristics which helped to determine their likely cultural fit but also ability to overcome cultural differences.

Finally, although we scoured the entire telecommunications sector for candidates, we also identified candidates from other sectors who had proven experience of delivering a seismic shift in growth within a short space of time. 

Successful appointment

Ultimately, from a long list of 84 candidates, whittled down to a short list of 5 for the client to interview, the successful candidate had the perfect mix of skills and experience for the role. They had previously worked as MD for a family run computer software business, tripling their growth in 3 years before the business was sold. A key part of this success had included a major change in culture, bringing in a number of new, non-family related individuals to drive the business forward.  

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