Executive Search to Support North American Expansion for a Brazilian Producer of Coconut Water
The ExeQfind Group’s Sao Paulo, Brazil based partner – Hamilton Teixeira led a three-country initiative to support our client’s efforts at establishing their product in the US and Canada. Our client is one of the world’s most unique producers of organic coconut water and related by-products. Hamilton had just completed a CFO search for the agribusiness / agricultural cooperative based in Brazil when he learned of their aspirations to expand into North America.
Our client’s leadership elected to seek out two regional sales leaders to support the launch. Hamilton initiated the search assignments by engaging Warren Carter from our Atlanta office and our Toronto-based partner – Sylvia MacArthur to create a joint-search team representing Brazil, the US and Canada. Sylvia’s deep expertise in FMCG and specifically the beverage sector proved to be invaluable in seeking out a Regional Sales Director for the Northeastern US, a Regional Sales Director for Canada and a Regional Sales Director for the Southeastern US.
Our Brazilian-client in this case study is an agribusiness concern owned by US-based investors. The client is focused on the cultivation and production of coconuts and related by-products. The farm in the Bahia region of Northeastern Brazil was founded with an initial investment of $300M USDs. Comprised of 450K trees on 4 farms spread across 14,800 acres, the farming operation produces 90M coconuts per year. The investment included a state-of-the-art production plant to extract coconut water.
By-products of the coconut harvesting and water extraction include the use of the coconut shell to produce growing medium for hydroponic and horticultural farming operations which have tied our client to the burgeoning green / ecological sustainability movement. The main product is the all-natural coconut water that via a unique process extracts the water without exposing it to oxygen which degrades the product through oxidation.
Hamilton placed the relationship on a firm foundation through his successful placement of a Brazil-based CFO. He leveraged his partners in Atlanta and Toronto to support their expansion into North America via search assignments for two Regional Sales Directors (one in the Northeastern US and the other in the Southeastern US) and third Regional Sales Director for Canada. Given the urgency and locality of the assignments, we elected to collaborate with our New York and Toronto-based partner – Sylvia MacArthur. Sylvia’s reputation in executive search, knowledge and relationships with the FMCG / beverage sector were key attributes of the dual search assignment.
Sylvia led the joint search project for North America with Warren supporting and collaborating very closely throughout the process to include participating jointly in all briefing sessions, coordinating the development of a detailed position description and candidate briefing documents as well as a consistent approach to client deliverables. They also shared thinking on the approach to research and profile of candidates to target.
All three search assignments were successfully completed.
Specific metrics of the Northeast and Canadian searches include:
Sylvia presented a slate of 6 candidates representing a diverse group including 2 women, 1 African American, 2 seasoned Caucasian prospects and one outlier candidate – a very young “high potential”. Our client hiring manager agreed to video interview all of the candidates and narrowed the field to 3 candidates to fly to California for the final interview – one woman, one seasoned male and the high potential young candidate. This slate of candidates presented the hiring manager with the best possible problem – which was that he wanted to hire all 3 candidates.
The hiring manager explored hiring one of the three candidates in a parallel role in another regional market but the candidate was not able to relocate. He offered the seasoned male the Director role for the US North East and created and offered a new role to the earlier career high potential candidate. Unfortunately, the early career candidate was counter offered by his current employer and declined – however – they continue to keep in touch for the future. Our client was very pleased with the hire and subsequently engaged Sylvia for a new search and intimated that once that one was up and running, they would engage them for an additional search.
Warren presented a diverse slate of 7 candidates to include: 4 experienced Caucasian males, 1 Hispanic male, 1 Caucasian female and 1 African American male. After video interviews, the client elected to fly 4 candidates to California and New York for final interviews. The slate of 4 candidates included a seasoned Caucasian male, a mid-career Caucasian male, a Caucasian female and the African American male. The Caucasian female was selected as the finalist and gave verbal acceptance just prior to the Christmas holiday break. However, the finalists mother passed away just after the holiday which led to the hospitalization of her elderly father. The finalist requested more time before giving acceptance in order to see how this personal situation would impact her. At the client’s wish, just over 3 weeks was provided to the finalist to allow her time to reflect on what to do. She ultimately declined to make a career change given the uncertainty surrounding her father’s health. The African American male strategically located in the center of the southeastern US with 27 years of progressively responsible sales leadership experience in beverages was ultimately offered the role and he accepted.
The major contributors to the successful outcome of this 3 country joint-search assignment include:
- Constant and consistent presence of partners throughout the process.
- Constant and updated interchanging of information between search consultants in Canada, USA and Brazil to ensure that the projects were running in sync and as expected.
- Hamilton Teixeira’s advisory influence relative to aspects of Brazilian business culture and related expectations coupled with input from Sylvia MacArthur and Warren Carter’s input regarding their regional knowledge and influence contributed to the success of this search project.
- A unified focus, discipline and persistence across borders coupled with trust, professionalism, responsiveness and camaraderie which is at the very heart of The ExeQfind Group’s ethos.
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