The Challenge

The intent of the search for a CFO responsible for Microsoft’s India region was to conduct extensive mapping of the industry, to build a pipeline. The conversation was to occur without sharing a particular mandate and later assess the candidate fit. There was no pre-set timelines for the closure of the search. The Incumbent, the Head HR, and the India TA Head were to lead the search, along with the leadership team in APAC, Europe, and the US. The organization then was a USD 2 billion organization in India and was going through a phase of change globally. It was synonymous with technology, but it wanted to be considered a leading consumer technology company.

For this role, the organization preferred a finance leader, who would have a strong experience in the consumer space and had managed finance for businesses, in excess of USD 500 million. They were looking for someone with strong experience of working in MNCs and a matrix – structured environment. They wanted someone who appreciated technology and could influence the senior leadership team at the global HQs and India.

Coming down to the challenges, there was an extremely vast candidate pool – Multiple sectors (FMCG, Consumer Durable, Technology, Media, Telecom, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Healthcare & etc.) with a large geographic spread (South East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, and Hong Kong), India, Europe, & the Middle East. The other challenge was the issue of getting senior leaders to the table without a set agenda. It was a three year process, wherein many shortlisted candidates accepted other offers and there were also periodic changes to search like Diversity focused/ Sector focused at times. It was also a challenge explaining the rationale Candidates for numerous rounds of interviews (10 -12 with the final two shortlisted candidates).

Our approach and success

In the course of this search, we had mapped over 90 companies and had presented 18 candidates to the client of which 11 were shortlisted. By the end, two candidates reached the offer stage and two others were kept as back-up candidates. We did not sell a particular role to the candidate and primarily sold the brand, Microsoft, its growth in India, and the importance of India as one of the 12 regions.

Throughout the project, Executive Access was seen as Consulting Partners and not merely talent fillers. We closed two other senior finance mandates at Microsoft as a by – product of the search and developed a strong relationship with the candidates due to sustained connect; they think of us as advisors. Microsoft made an intelligent hire i.e. both the candidates and the client understood each other; they realized who would fit well culturally. There was an easier assimilation for the candidate. Impressed by our capabilities and reach, we received more succession pipeline projects from Microsoft and the industry. We also received a mandate from one of the candidates we interviewed.

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