From Zoom to Boardroom: remotely recruiting a Non Exec Chair

In February 2020, our client – an AIM listed business services company – mandated us to hire a Chairman for them. We were briefed to find an experienced Professional Services Chair with M&A experience, and cultural fit to the board was essential. Our initial research work and identification of suitable candidates was completed within three weeks and a long list of fifteen people shared with the client in early March.

Almost immediately following the presentation of the longlist, the UK was put into a national lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Our client was immediately distracted by day to day trading concerns, furloughing staff, and creating a work from home culture. Naturally, they became immersed in the ‘here and now’ and asked for the search to be put on hold.  However, by early May, they felt they had enough control over the situation and asked us to continue the search. We re-engaged with the preferred candidates and produced a shortlist just weeks later. All interviews were conducted online with support information being shared electronically; the client updates also took place via video conferencing.

We shortlisted six experienced AIM Chairs who met with the client remotely, reducing the list to four, who then met the acting Chair who in turn reduced the list to two potentials. They were met by the CEO and CFO in independent video conferences before an offer was made to the successful chair who was appointed in June, announced in July, and began his new role on August the 1st.

Remarkably all interaction throughout the search was either by ‘phone or video link – there was not a single physical meeting between us, the client or any of the candidates. The board met the chair for the first time on August 18th at their first Board Meeting, proving not only that recruitment can be successful using technology in place of in-person meetings, but also that even during a pandemic, life must go on.

If you’d like to hear more about our Board Advisory Practice, or perhaps to discuss an assignment in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact Lucie Shaw, Partner via lucie.shaw@normanbroadbent.com