Our Client: Sargento Foods
We received a call from a Vice President of Human Resources with Sargento Foods, inquiring about our services and a potential search. At this point, Sargento Foods had mostly worked with contingency search firms and were cautious in the use of our retained model. The project was to find them a new Vice President of Information Technology, which was open due to an organizational change where the incumbent was taking on a new role within the company. This new opening would be the top Information Technology leader in the company and an officer level position which would report to the CFO.
During our initial call, the client asked us several questions, such as: “What similar positions have we worked on in the past, what was our expected timeline, and what was our process?” Of course, each of these were excellent questions and gave the client the ability to learn more about us and what sets us apart from our competition. Satisfied with our knowledge and experience, we moved forward and set up an in-person meeting to dig into the details.
The Search for a VP of Information Technology
During our initial kick-off meeting, we typically meet in-person with all key stakeholders to understand more about finding the ideal candidate. This involves going beyond just position requirements, and learning more about the company and function culture, leadership philosophies, community involvement and passion projects, as well as specific projects, accomplishments, impacts, and challenges expected from this new leader. Meeting with several business leaders, including the CFO and Chief Human Resources Officer, we gathered important data and learned as much as we could about their ideal candidate. Once satisfied that we had all required information, we initiated the search, ready and excited to showcase our capabilities.
To ensure the client is considering ALL top prospects, it’s important to include both active (applicants) and passive candidates. We make sure to utilize digital advertising and create brand relevant marketing copy to release to the public via multiple social media platforms; however, to find the best candidates “in the market” and not necessarily “on the market,” you must also source passive candidates. To effectively accomplish this, you need a strong, reputable, well connected, researched-based recruiting partner, one who will tell the client story in an accurate and compelling manner. This requires a detailed understanding of the customer, access to good information and the ability to clearly communicate the reasons why an individual might want to consider leaving the known for the unknown.
When performed at its highest level, the process is incredibly time intensive; as a result, it can be challenging for an internal recruiter or contingency firm to handle effectively. Contingency search firms have conflicting priorities in that they truly want to find the best candidate, but they also have to do it faster than competing firms, not investing or committing too much of their own time or capital up front. It can be difficult for an internal recruiter to take the proper time to run a research-based search because they would typically be carrying a large requisition load while also juggling other corporate projects. In addition, depending upon who the ideal target companies are, it may be frowned upon for an internal recruiter to aggressively approach talent from competing corporations.
Using all of the tools at our disposal, we were able to present a slate of qualified candidates, expedite the interview process at Sargento Foods, and have an offer extended to Holly Baumgart from Harley Davidson within 65 days of our initial search kick-off meeting. This is extremely fast, even by our own standard of a 90 day time to fill on leadership searches, possible only when you have an engaged client that makes the search process a top priority.
Keys to a Successful Professional Search
The keys to our success on this search were our consultative approach and our tendency to lead by listening. We learned so much by taking the time to review Sargento’s rich history and understand why they were consistently ranked as a Top Workplace. We understood their priorities, and their deliverables.
We also have a history of success in developing strong, successful partnerships with other privately held, or family-run companies, such as: Charter Manufacturing, HUSCO International, and Ashley Furniture. As we had recently placed another Vice President Information Technology with HUSCO International, based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Holly was already on our short-list of IT leaders — it was only a matter of time before we’d be able to provide her with the right opportunity.
Our successful placement of a new VP of Information Technology led to a continued partnership with the Sargento Family and eventual recruitment searches for a Chief Human Resources Officer, Vice President of Purchasing, Director of Information Technology Strategy, Vice President of Quality & Food Safety Systems, and a Vice President of Engineering.