A Mission-Driven Leader for a Modern Manufacturing Operation
Successful search brings new president and CEO to Minnesota Diversified Industries
When Peter McDermott, President and CEO of Minnesota Diversified Industries, announced his retirement in 2020, the board of directors knew they had big shoes to fill. During his 12 years in the role, McDermott significantly strengthened and grew the non-profit, which provides meaningful employment opportunities to Minnesotans with disabilities.
After considering their options, MDI turned to Lyman Executive Search to identify external leadership candidates. David Lyman, Principal, and Heidi Westlind, Search Consultant, led the three-month effort. MDI’s unique combination of social enterprise and manufacturing made it a challenging yet exciting assignment.
Blending manufacturing with social enterprise
MDI needed a president and CEO candidate adept at:
Bridging the boundaries of mission and manufacturing
Demonstrating servant leadership qualities
Interfacing with external stakeholders
Combining the two disciplines of non-profit leadership and manufacturing savvy was especially important for MDI. The organization operates four manufacturing facilities across the state, which produce and assemble corrugated plastic products for organizations around the country.
“Lyman Executive Search did exceptional work in finding good candidates for us to vet,” said Jill Hesselroth, Chair of the MDI board of directors.
A collaborative and inclusive process
Finding the right leader meant learning the MDI business inside and out. Our inclusive and collaborative process enabled us to understand the non-profit’s key requirements, as well as the cultural nuances that would guarantee a strong fit.
We worked in close partnership with outgoing president McDermott, board chair Hesselroth, former chair Ellen Hoeg and the non-profit’s full selection committee. Dr. Sarah Bridges assisted us with psychological assessments for finalists.
“It was a great process. We had the right team and found the right person,” Hoeg said. “We thank David and Heidi at Lyman Executive Search for their guidance and leadership.”
A unanimous decision in Eric Black
The hard work paid off. Although making a final decision was difficult due to the number of qualified candidates, the selection committee was unanimous in their choice. Eric Black is the right leader for this moment at MDI. The board values his deep manufacturing experience, strategic skills and inspiring leadership.
Lyman Executive Search helped the two parties negotiate terms and assisted with the transition and on-boarding plan.
“An abundance of gratitude goes to Lyman Executive Search for supporting us throughout the process,” Hesselroth said. “I am excited to work with Eric and watch him develop in this role.”
For Stronger Executive Candidates, Take a Team Approach
An Executive Search Team Offers Multiple Perspectives and Accelerates Hiring Timeframes
By David Lyman, Principal
Lyman Executive Search
Few things have a bigger impact on an organization than the executives hired to lead the business. It’s one reason why sound recruiting and hiring practices are critical for family-owned and privately-held companies. A poor fit or a short tenure at the top can result in unnecessary disruption and strained relationships; in certain situations, it can even impede innovation and hinder growth.
One way to avoid these issues and ensure you tap the best possible candidates for VP and C-suite positions is by working with an executive recruiting team. “Team” is the key. Not only do you benefit from a search firm’s vast professional connections and an objective external lens, with a recruiting team on your account, you also gain the advantage of multiple perspectives.
I’ve witnessed the power of this give-and-take firsthand. Early in my career, I interviewed for a position with a leading national recruiting firm. During one of my final interviews, two of the principals actively debated the merits (and the potential risks) of my candidacy—right in front of me! Fortunately, my positive attributes won out and I got the job. It revealed to me at an early age that even when we meet the same individuals, different points resonate with each of us.
While we never advocate such a bold display, we do believe that multiple viewpoints and a well-rounded screening process bring forward the best possible professionals for senior positions. That’s why at Lyman Executive Search, we regularly involve a team of search professionals in our executive engagements.
Advantages of an Executive Search Team
We believe greater involvement results in a more efficient hiring process. It yields stronger candidates, builds consensus and reduces risk for the business.
A number of factors support this approach. With a team you can:
Tap a broader pool of professionals through each recruiter’s personal network
Identify and overcome individual preferences and potential biases
Create well-rounded assessments of each candidate’s merits
Ensure uninterrupted support across all stages of the hiring process
Ongoing collaboration and the occasional spirited debate among the recruiting team are hallmarks of this process. It’s also important, as it is in any team, for each search professional to have a well defined role, a “playbook” of documented processes and a clear team leader.
Our team regularly gathers to share information, evaluate progress and discuss our impressions of potential candidates. This is particularly beneficial for matching less tangible attributes to a company’s needs, such as a leader’s energy level, communication style or cultural fit. We’re open in our feedback and not afraid to probe for details or challenge each other’s conclusions.
A team approach also helps us expedite the search process. An executive search typically ranges from 90 to 120 days. We recently completed the search for a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) role—during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—in just 74 days. Focused teamwork and a great client relationship made this pace possible, without compromising quality.
Five Ways to Team Up with Your Search Partner
As a privately held or family-owned business, how can you team up with a search partner to recruit your next stellar corporate leader? We recommend these steps:
Work with a recruiting team. Look for a firm with experience in your sector and the depth of resources to support your engagement with multiple, qualified individuals. Ask how agency principals and senior partners are involved in day-to-day efforts. Make sure there’s a good cultural fit between your organization’s work style and that of your executive search firm.
Make numerous stakeholders available. The more senior the position, the more impact the individual will have on the organization. A Chief Financial Officer (CFO), for example, will interact with nearly all departments and business locations. Letting your search firm talk to a wide spectrum of current employees arms your recruiting team with an array of insights they will use to find the right candidates.
Be honest about your culture. A candidate may appear perfect on paper, only to fall flat once they’re on the job. The skills and experience are right—but some part of their work style just doesn’t gel in the organization. Too often, this mismatch occurs when companies omit key details about their culture. Sharing a realistic picture is the best way to land the right leader and ensure a lasting tenure.
Articulate realistic short- and long-term goals. Most senior leaders expect a challenge. But, they also want a fair assessment of the situation they’ll encounter in their new role. Be prepared to share company financials, org charts, competitive analyses and strategic plans with candidates, as well as clear expectations of how their performance and success will be measured.
Embrace virtual technology. COVID-19 has dramatically changed the world of business—including executive hiring. The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to conduct recruiting, interviewing and even a good portion of the onboarding process virtually. Your search firm can guide you on the right tools and technology, but make sure stakeholders understand the new approach. On-site tours and interviews may still occur, but likely only with final candidates, and much later in the hiring process.
Ready to team up for hiring success?Contact me to meet the full Lyman Executive Search team and learn more about our approach.
Lyman Executive Search
5850 Opus Parkway, Suite #170, Minnetonka, MN 55343