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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

The Food, The Search, and The Leaders

In this monthly newsletter, we’ll be covering everything food, ingredients and beverages – from new product launches, leadership movements, the investments being made and secured by the exciting and fast-growing. If it involves the food industry we’ll be talking about it.

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I know many of you still wonder what it is we do as a business, you may think we supply ingredients into the food and beverages space, or that we sell the world's greatest mocktails direct to consumers.

Whilst these would be fair guesses - fortunately, you would be wrong.

Meyrick Consulting has been placing executive leaders in the food, ingredients and beverages industry for a long time now. Over this time we have been privileged to have placed leaders into some of the globe's largest, fastest-growing, most exciting organizations whilst supporting the VCs and PE firms in building out the leadership teams they need to support their portfolio companies. It's in this capacity we have come across some real horror stories of bad hires and incompetent search firms. This is why we have put together a genuinely useful and valuable guide on "How to Select an Executive Search Firm"

But, this week I would like to get across just a couple of the points we cover in the guide...

Partner with an executive search firm BEFORE you have a need.

Sounds ridiculous to some but many would agree.

You might think to put this at the bottom of your list of things to do but genuinely, if you’re in the fast-moving food, ingredients and beverages space you will need a partner to call on someday and more often than not, when you need a new leader – you need a new leader NOW. Placing your trust in someone without having a prior relationship is like playing Russian roulette with the stakes being the growth or failure of your company.

Sure, hiring the wrong leader might not be the end of the world but how much time and money will you have lost in realising they’re not right for your company – especially when bringing new products to market ahead of your competitors is vital in the industry.

So, you need to build a relationship with a search firm – where do you start and how do you vet them?

Let’s talk…

Your immediate network – speak to those around you and try to get some recommendations from those that have already engaged with a search firm. But realise, there is a huge difference between placing a senior manager and placing an executive at the helm of your business so hoping a recruitment company that your contact used to fill a lead data scientist role or a business development manager might not be the best way to go here. But spend time speaking with various individuals and get to know what’s out there.

The generalist versus the specialist – There is nothing at all wrong with working with a generalist recruiter, in fact, their breadth of knowledge of different industries might be what you need. But consider the benefits of working with an industry specialist.

Industry specialist search firms will likely have…

  • A strong understanding of your business and the challenges you are likely to face and are able to support you in understanding the type of leader you need next.

  • A deep network of contacts that could support you in other ways from fundraising to supply chain – a relationship should become mutually beneficial in this way

  • A desire to want to get to know you and your business in detail before you engage them on any assignment. It shouldn’t feel “transactional”

Once you have had a handful of conversations with various search firms you will begin to appreciate the need to have a relationship before you go out looking for a new leader to drive your company forward and, you will also begin to appreciate how different one firm might be to another.

Timing is everything...

And, a sure-fire way to weed out the rubbish.

One of the questions you need to ask in this initial round of vetting is “how long does it take to fill a role?”

A big red flag that will help you eliminate potential search partners will be those that tell you they could have a shortlist with you within a few weeks. This is either going to be a lie or yes, they will have a shortlist with you in that time but there’s no way they could have completed a thorough search and the screening process would likely involve the following questions:

  1. Do you have a pulse?

  2. Do you eat food?

  3. Have you ever cooked your own food?

Of course, I joke, but a typical timeline will have a market map on your desk within a month and a fully screened and interviewed candidate list 2/3-weeks following this.

If the proposed timing is anything less, you will likely hurt your company by hiring from that list.

We have completed part 1 of our 2-part guide on selecting an executive search firm which is designed to genuinely assist you in selecting an executive search firm that is right for your business.

Don’t leave home without it!

Drop me a message if you would like a copy – no email address necessary and I won’t even charge you for it.

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Placing Top Leaders Within The Global Food, Ingredients and Beverages Industry
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