Case 3: Family businesses in a turnaround situation: a place for top talent?

Family businesses constitute the backbone of the economy in almost every country. Although they reassure candidates with their long-term strategy perspective versus short-term profits and their independence from capital markets, surveys reveal that 25% of executives would not work in a family context. They evoke the lack of career perspective and promotion and an absence of transparency.

Our client was a non-quoted Italian Company specialized in door entry systems. The mother company was created in 1972 and sells its products in 69 countries through distributors and subsidiaries. As a long lasting client of our network EMA Partners in France and UK, they turned to us to help them for their Belgian subsidiary. The challenge consisted in recruiting a commercial director in a destabilized and demotivated context. 

In order to find the appropriate candidate, we investigated in depth in the understanding of the unique culture of the organization and established very clearly with our client that the exact context had to be fully exposed to the candidates, to prove the total transparency of the company and to allow the candidate to make his decision fully aware of the challenge. We also suggested to recruit a high potential that will have the ability to become general manager in a near future. It made the position more attractive and would bring stability into the structure.

We searched for a candidate who felt comfortable in family businesses and who possessed the right soft skills in this particularly touchy context. The retained candidate had an extensive sales & marketing experience in the B to B sector. He was open to the challenge as he was missing the entrepreneurial dimension in his previous position. He knew the company as an outsider, valued the brand and recognized the product development strength.