Finding senior financial professionals for the customer experience experts

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By Mark Craddock. Published on 7 July 2016


The client
Over the last 25 years the Omnico Group has developed hardware and software to enable clients in retail, leisure and entertainment to positively transform their customers’ experience. By placing the customer journey at the heart of everything they do, Omnico helps clients understand their customers better and engage with them more personally.

The brief
Oliver Archer joined Omnico as Chief Financial Officer to spearhead the transformation and growth of the company with owners Better Capital Ltd.

A key part of his plans was a restructuring of the finance team to better support the business. When Oliver needed a reliable search partner to help fill the newly-created role of Group Financial Controller and find a replacement for the outgoing Financial Planning and Analysis Manager (FP&A) he asked Eton Bridge Partners to help.

“I had known Mark [Mark Craddock, EBP Partner and Head of Finance Practice] for some time, both as a candidate and a client. I approached him because these roles fitted right into Eton Bridge Partners’ sweet spot: senior financial roles pitched at £90k plus.

“I could have gone for a contingent search but I wanted to give Mark a chance to do the best job possible; to do some research and find the best people available.”

The process
Eton Bridge Partners had placed the previous FP&A with Omnico and had a good understanding of the role and the organisation. A face-to-face meeting between Oliver, Mark and an EBP researcher helped the team to develop a clear understanding of the new role and Oliver’s expectations.

“They took time to understand the brief well, to consider who they knew and who they could find to meet the brief,” said Oliver. “There was no sales pressure and no hassle. The customer service was very good.”

“Oliver was able to give us a very precise brief,” said Mark. “And although that means you have to work harder to find candidates that fit, it also means you know when you’ve found a great match.”

Recognising that the imminent departure of the existing FP&A could put pressure on the Omnico team and their recruitment process, Mark suggested an interim manager to cover the role in the short term.

“It made sense on many levels,” said Mark. “It gave us time to find the best possible candidates for the permanent position, without worrying about notice periods, and also meant we could fill the two key roles with one campaign. This made for a cost-effective solution for the client.”

The EBP team designed a campaign to meet Omnico’s brief for the permanent roles.

“Omnico wanted a degree of confidentiality during the search so we did very little advertising and relied on our networking and search skills,” explained Mark. “That meant making direct approaches to people on our database and beyond. Our referral network was particularly helpful for this brief. It meant we could get in touch with people who weren’t actively looking for a new role but could definitely do it well.”

The search uncovered an excellent match for the Financial Controller role early in the process, but the team recognised they had to offer the client a wider choice.

“We’d known Chris Murray for a while,” said Mark. “I thought he’d be a good match and once we’d had a chat I was convinced. But we had to provide more choice, so an important part of the process was to keep Chris interested and engaged while we continued the search.

“We also kept the client updated at all times. We had great two-way communications with Oliver. Our researchers would send regular updates of the people we had approached and we’d talk at least once a week. We’d provide updates and explain any challenges we were facing and Oliver would give us feedback on the candidates we had put forward. It was an excellent relationship.”

The result
A shortlist of four referenced and pre-interviewed candidates for each role was presented to the client for interview. Eton Bridge Partners managed the whole interview process, from providing the meeting rooms and scheduling the interviews to conducting the pre-interview meetings.

While all the candidates were considered appointable, Oliver selected Christopher Murray for the role of Financial Controller, and Kirstie McCormack as FP&A.

“The great thing about Eton Bridge Partners,” said Oliver, “is they’ve been in the business for a long time, which means they know all the right people. Or their boss. Mark is incredibly good at finding out about people and it all helps.”

“Kirstie was a new name to us,” said Mark Craddock. “She came to us via our network with solid recommendations and quickly demonstrated she was a very credible candidate.”

Kirstie was equally positive about her first experience of Eton Bridge Partners. “Everyone I came across was friendly, open and honest. I’d certainly work with them again when I’m looking for a new role or to recruit someone.”

Eton Bridge Partners’ research team made sure all unsuccessful candidates received constructive feedback on their applications.

“I think that’s really important,” explained Mark. “We value our candidates greatly and even if someone is not selected for this specific role, something else is likely to emerge later. It’s common sense to keep in touch and offer help where we can.”

At the time of writing, Chris and Kirstie have each been in their post for seven months and are described as doing very well.

Reflecting on her first few months with the organisation, Kirstie said, “I was keen to do something different from my last role, which was in a very large medical devices firm. Ultimately I’m working towards becoming a CFO in a commercial role and this role gets me much closer to the action. There’s a lot to do but I have the authority to make decisions and make things happen.”

“What I like about Eton Bridge Partners is their subject matter expertise. They really know the market place they choose to operate in and they don’t claim to recruit everyone. When I asked if they could help with some legal roles, Mark was really straight with me. He told me while he could find someone there were more specialist alternatives available. That’s a great way of building trust.” Oliver Archer, Chief Financial Officer, Omnico