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Finding a top performing CEO for a multi-national software consulting business


A major corporate restructure created a new European CEO role that our client were keen to ensure was filled by a market leading individual.

The brief 

Following a major restructure across the entire multi-national software consulting business, our client required a new CEO to lead all of their European market businesses. Prior to the restructure, there were a number of individual country businesses with their own CEOs, reporting to the Global Executive Team. 

However, as each country grew, this became unwieldy resulting in the need to consolidate the individual countries to an overall European governance structure and reporting line. 

Language Barriers

One of the major obstacles we had to overcome on this assignment was the client’s stipulation that the successful candidate must have multi-lingual abilities. In particular, an ability to speak French, Italian and Spanish (as well as perfect English) was mandatory as a number of issues had arisen in the business in the past due to the language barriers with these countries. This was also the main reason why all existing internal candidates were unsuitable. 

In addition, substantial experience of leading a multi-million pound turnover organisation incorporating different time zones as well as a willingness to extensively travel, were all further challenges for this assignment. 

Candidate Search

Our client highlighted that experience of leading a European-wide organisation was more important than having a specific background in software consulting. Nevertheless, our rigorous search spanned both the software consulting sector as well as non-related sectors where we identified a number of high performing individuals in similar European leadership roles. 

We focused on the critical success factors to our client in terms of language abilities as well as experience of leading multi-national organisations. This resulted in identification of a number of possible candidates, which were reduced further once we had undertaken detailed psychometric profiling to establish cultural fit.

Successful Appointment

Ultimately, one of the strongest candidates we identified was from one of our client’s major competitors. This meant they had the benefit of having really strong experience of the software consulting sector, but also had experience of successfully growing a business across European markets. In addition, they spoke all of the required languages fluently  and even spoke German and Dutch!

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