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When too many chefs spoil the recruiting broth

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In recruitment it is always important that any and all of the key decision makers on the client side are completely aligned on the candidate profile they would like to see at the start of the search. If there are too many different views (too many chefs) it can spoil the hiring broth and Morunda Blue recently completed a retained search that illustrated this point.

To set the stage, our client is one of the top Market Research Consultancies to Pharma in the world with a relatively large presence in Japan. Our hiring manager was based in Europe, and their boss was based in the US. Sales growth in Japan was ok (slowing a little recently) but the competition was gaining. We were looking for a replacement JPAC Sales Head to re-invigorate the business and lead a large Sales force both in Japan (60% of the total APAC sales) and across several regional Asian offices.

We spoke at length with our Hiring Manager and shared our thoughts on the type of profile that would best fit and we came up with a range of alternatives. Our hiring manager was somewhat familiar with Japan and he had a preference for slightly younger, sales driven individuals with a background in Solution Sales or (in a pinch) Pharma IT / Vendor sales. He did not want a General Manager, or a former BU Head from Big Pharma as he believed these profiles, whilst having strong, high-level connections, would be more inclined to sit in their office and bark orders to the Sales Team (rather than rolling their sleeves up and getting involved themselves).

With the go-ahead from the client, we got to work and after 4 weeks we present shortlist of the best 4 candidates (in our estimation). Excited, he organized meetings with all 4 for his next visit to Tokyo and, after conducting interviews at our office, 3 were deemed suitable to progress to the next stage.

Confidently, we scheduled next meetings with the US based Global Business Head. Like Rambo, he came to our office and swiftly shot down all 3 candidates in one afternoon and the feedback was in stark contrast to our European Hiring Manager. “Where are the guys from Big Pharma? I want someone that can emphasize with the client. They’re also too Junior! I want tangible experience running a subsidiary.”

Clearly we had two different decision makers who were out of step with what they expected from their JPAC Sales Head. More disappointing, we were now back at square 1 with our search.

We wanted to ensure that the same problems wouldn’t arise again. Clearly we now needed both senior managers to jointly construct their ideal profile and, after a heated TC (myself as a very quiet bystander) we had agreed upon a particular profile (Requiring some experience in both Solution Sales and Big Pharma and a proven record of Sales Leadership without being too far removed from the “field”).

We went back to our search and after another few weeks we were able to present a further 3 candidates that seemed to match and after placing them into interviews our two hiring managers were able to agree upon one candidate they both saw as the right fit for the role. After a quick offering process the candidate has signed and will join the company from the start of the 2016.

Whilst they’re not always this challenging, it is clear that complete alignment across the hiring managers is hugely important when trying to successfully recruit top talent. In Executive Search, it can become tempting to assume the client company is always aligned on decision making (but this isn’t always the case). Luckily this process ended successfully and we’ll certainly pay more due diligence to interviewer alignment in future.

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Morunda should be your choice of recruiting partner in Japan and Asia Pacific. Why? Because we live and breathe the pharmaceutical industry in Asia and the Pacific—we’re specialists!

  • Morunda has completed over 400 managers to director-level placements since 2001.
  • A cultural understanding of what it takes to secure top talent
    Over one hundred thought leadership articles published.
  • We hold regular seminars for candidates and clients alike with industry experts.
  • We understand the market, not only today, but where it is heading in the next 12 to 18 months

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