Attracting top talent can be a lengthy process. But sometimes an unpredictable or urgent circumstance requires the typical time frame to be condensed.

This is precisely what happened when Lilian Fossum Biner, Chairman of the Board of Swedish confectionery company Cloetta, contacted Odgers Berndtson in Stockholm.

The brief was clear and challenging, and time was of the essence.

Fossum Biner needed a new board member who was an internationalist and a supply chain specialist with deep knowledge not only of logistics but also of manufacturing. Importantly, he or she had to be seasoned enough for a high profile board position in a public company.

Cloetta operates in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. It has 2,500 employees in 11 countries, and production facilities at eight factories in five countries. Last year, it turned over 5.8 billion Swedish Kronor (approximately US$ 646 million) thanks to strong heritage brands such as Lakerol, Cloetta, Candyking, Jenkki and many others.

Fossum Biner explained, “I had worked with Odgers Berndtson before and had been impressed by their extensive international network. They gave us a long list of qualified candidates for this role from all over Europe and all were qualified on paper for the assignment.”

Precision in process

Bengt Starke, a Partner in Odgers Berndtson’s Stockholm office with a focus on the industrial sector, recalls precisely how the process unfolded.

“Lilian contacted us on October 26, 2017, at 11am. We had to reassure her very quickly that we would be able to deliver, despite the international component of the assignment.

“We managed to prove our capabilities, thanks to a quick response from Lucy Harding, Partner and Head of the Procurement and Supply Chain Practice in our London office.”

“In a few hours, we had convinced Lilian that we had a big enough international network to manage a project like this.”

In fact, Odgers provided Cloetta with extremely high-calibre CVs from within the FMCG industry in Europe representing some of the top supply chain leaders in the sector.

Fossum Biner was duly impressed, not only with the quality of the CVs but also with the speed of the response.

Says Starke, “We reached out to Odgers Berndtson offices around the world to seek names and received potential candidates from Germany, Belgium, Holland, the UK, Finland and France. Even Singapore and the US had some ideas.”

The perfect fit

After a thorough process, Alan McLean Raleigh, a former EVP Supply Chain for Unilever, was elected to the board at the Cloetta General Meeting in April 2018.

What was it about Raleigh that precisely fitted the bill for Cloetta?

Says Fossum Biner, “Alan was selected for his supply chain experience and track record in a similar business; his strong ability to make strategies and transform them into results; his track record in one UK company board where he made a significant impact; his high intelligence and proven judgment; his balanced personality. The other candidates had three or four of these factors, but not all of them.”

Raleigh adds, “I found the selection process with Odgers Berndtson very professional and smooth.”

“Lucy Harding from the London office, whom I know from my professional network, contacted me to explore my potential interest in the Cloetta non-executive role.

“From the brief discussion with Lucy, it sounded interesting so Lucy connected me with Bengt Starke in Stockholm, who then quickly followed up. I liked Bengt’s simple, clear and straightforward approach to the selection process. He provided quick and constructive feedback at each stage and was always available to answer any questions I had without compromising client confidentiality.”

Meeting the challenge

Fossum Biner is happy with the work of Odgers Berndtson especially as she is aware that the talent pool is constantly changing.

“Working with consumer goods and selling through retailers,” she says, “the challenges and opportunities with digitisation are formidable. This affects all parts of the business system and the talent requirements that go with it present a real challenge. Because the opportunities within digitisation are still developing so quickly, spotting the right talent with senior and relevant experience is really tricky.”

Raleigh comments further: “Businesses that have a purpose that inspires will have an advantage as more and more employees look for reason in their working life. In a world where the pace and frequency of change is increasing, it is vital that organisations create environments that can adapt quickly and that support the constant development of relevant new skills and capabilities.”

“The best employees want to be challenged and developed and will leave if they do not see the potential for self-actualisation. Given that the leaders of organisations are often less digitally aware than many of the new recruits into organisations, reverse mentoring might be required to ensure leaders understand this new world themselves.”

This article is from the latest ‘Talent and Potential’ edition of the Odgers Berndtson magazine, OBSERVE.

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Bengt Starke

Bengt Starke is a Partner in the Stockholm office, and focuses on the Industrial sector(including Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics), Technology sectors, and the Business & Professional S...

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