Delivering high-level executive search despite the obstacles

Some briefs are more challenging than others. In simple terms, there are some organisations out there that it seems everyone wants to work for, but there are some that need that extra helping hand to attract people to the role.

Challenges of executive search when faced with an organisational problem

How, for example, do you recruit a Science Director for an organisation that has a reputation for activism and alienated the scientific community?

When faced with the brief to recruit a Science Director for an animal research organisation, who would command the respect of the scientific community and gain the acceptance of the more vociferous of the organisation’s supporters, there were some peaks and troughs throughout the executive search process.

This was a role that we took two attempts to fill. First time around, the challenges were a low salary and a lack of direction within the organisation because it was at the same time recruiting a new CEO.

From large pharmaceutical organisations to smaller animal safety testing companies – casting the executive search net wide

With their new CEO, whom we had placed only months before, came a new strategy in development and extra investment in the salary. The organisation were ready for the next step of their journey and the hunt for a suitable scientist was on.

The search was complex – encompassing a range of potential candidates at a huge variety of organisations. From huge pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations where plenty of in vitro specialists are working on replacement, refinement and reduction of animal testing. To small companies working on one or two non-animal safety tests and also seeking out Named Veterinary Surgeons working to support animal welfare at organisations with animal testing.

When diligent executive search through targeted advertising and perseverance pays off

We also engaged in a sustained campaign of seeking recommendations, bringing many more potential candidates to our attention.

In the end, with perseverance, good conversations – even some who questioned the organisation’s approach – and a targeted advertising campaign, we ended up presenting 16 candidates – half of whom were A-grade.