When taking briefs for executive level headhunts within more traditional building materials, one of three scenarios play out:

  1. "We need this leader to come from a background within x,y, or z"
  2. "It may be the case that we take someone from outside of our specific product sector and industry exposure"
  3. "There are no restrictions to where this person will come from, as long as they understand B2B"

In reality, when longlists are shared, irrespective of which scenario above has been outlined by the stakeholder, most clients plump for familiarity and the safety net is rolled out at offer stage.

Granted, for certain disciplines it makes sense to source from a specific market. In particular, sales is an obvious discipline where a strong network and proven ability to sell to a certain market makes sense.  Other disciplines less so in my opinion.

Over recent years, although hardly new technology, offsite building products (modular, modern methods of construction / MMC) has been purported as disruptive technology into the construction space.  Especially within housing, due to the rise in demand, investment into these methods has spiked.  This has resulted in such manufacturers being forced to look from outside of more conventional markets.  In other words, they've brought in talent from outside of the industry.

Over the past three years I've spoken with a number of manufacturers within this area who have proactively looked to bring Operations Directors, Technical Directors and even Managing Directors from such industries as engineering, food & beverage and automotive - Rosie Toogood, Legal & General Modular Homes' CEO of four years was poached from Rolls Royce, where she worked as a BD Director.

Bringing best practice in from other industries will help your boardroom and business flourish.  I agree that requesting your Executive Search partner to approach the direct market is worthwhile, but please reflect on which industries these transferable skills can come from.