Client brief:  We have been recruiting for this client since 2005. They operate within the public sector, being one of the leaders in operating and maintaining urban and intercity transportation systems. Three years after being founded in 2002, the CEO needed to hire a new CFO.

What I did:  Recruiting for the public sector can be a challenge: remuneration is mostly in the lower end of the market, yet challenges and complexity can be greater. However, since this client is a private law firm, only the very best talent would do. In return, candidates would be joining a company with a real growth perspective, a strong commitment to its people, and a creative and visionary CEO who was an achiever and hands on.

Whilst I knew that the client would be looking for profiles with classical backgrounds (such as higher education and from public or semi-public sectors/working in big institutions), I could see that they would benefit from reframing their recruitment requirements with an innovative approach that would avoid ‘cloning’. My challenge was to slide into the short-lit challenging applications.

One of the profiles I was most passionate about had never worked in the transportation-means business, was not acting CFO before joining the company, and was a woman. She had a proven track record, having been a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and VP of Global Finance at Atos. I knew that key to successful placing someone with this firm was finding someone that, beyond technical and scope capabilities, would ‘match’ with the CEO, so finding a meeting place of emotional quotient and relationships ability.

Outcome:  The newly recruited CFO was fully successful for 7 years. After one year as VP Americas-Africa and Executive Board Member, she was appointed as CEO of the company in 2017.