27 Mar #nextgreatleader Social Media Search
Sue Watson, the owner of Lyle and Scott, challenged Beringer Tame to find a new CEO for her £35M turnover company – using social media. Derided by some as a faddy waste of time and encouraged by others for seeking a fresh approach, we succeeded in finding the right candidate. Here is what happened.
BACKGROUND: Sue wanted to find a better way of bringing fresh blood into the role and wanted a ‘digitally savvy’ CEO. The only stipulation Lyle & Scott gave to us was that shortlisted candidates had to be authentic leaders and could come from any sector. So in August, we launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #nextgreatleader. It all kicked off with a single tweet.
PERFORMANCE: The campaign was a huge success, reaching 1 million people in 30 countries! The applicants we received were of extraordinarily high quality, spanning senior leadership of many well-known brands. It was so well targeted, we avoided being inundated with irrelevant applications.
We also took a very different approach to filter and select suitable candidates. All applicants had to complete tasks using social media, creating a Vine video and Pinterest boards to support their CV.
There was criticism that C-level people would not want to engage with a social media process that seemed more suited to graduate recruitment, but this worked to the campaign’s advantage. In James’ words, ‘People who were put off were exactly the people we didn’t want to enter the process. We didn’t want anyone with a big ego or a sense of entitlement; the people who engaged were the right sort of people’.
RESULT: After six weeks of searching, five out of eight people on the final shortlist were sourced from social media, with the others having been sourced from the traditional headhunting process that ran alongside.
We succeeded in finding a genuine leader outside the usual pool of blue chip executives. Despite interviewing some of the best talent from the global fashion industry, Lyle & Scott selected a CEO with a pharmaceutical background, and no prior CEO experience. This process has made waves in the executive search industry and the fashion world and the appointment of an industry outsider will raise eyebrows.
Philip Oldham, a candidate whose CV alone was unlikely to have opened the door to a role as the head of a fashion brand has now begun as the CEO for this iconic fashion label. Philip has a degree in genetics and his professional experience includes leadership roles in pharmaceutical and FMCG manufacturing. He was able to demonstrate that he was the perfect person for the job. Rather than simply claiming to be a great leader, his application included an outstanding eight minute YouTube video filled with past colleagues praising his leadership style and ability, which was hugely powerful.
“This process was something of an experiment and it surpassed all expectations. It is a significant milestone for the UK’s executive search market and it’s great to see that innovation is being led by a UK brand’ says Patrick. ‘The UK has long suffered from weak or lethargic leadership at board level and part of the problem is a risk averse executive search market who move a small number of well connected but unimaginative elite between a small number of highly paid jobs. Whilst this process wouldn’t be suitable for many companies, we have shown that with a little imagination, there is an alternative.”
Lyle & Scott has sustained a 140 year history by innovating and challenging convention, this spirit exists not only in their design, but in the way they do business. This is another brilliant example of a British brand leading global innovation.
Good luck to Philip