Case Study: retained search for Partner – Industrials

20th February 2024

At Carlin Hall, we invest significant time nurturing and developing networks within the executive search space. This helps build our own brand but importantly gives us access to key leaders in the sector. Their recommendations on people and businesses are incredibly valuable as we seek to find the ideal candidates.

Here, Joe Harkness tells us about the course of the retained process, where the successful candidate was identified just through a referral.


A client that Carlin Hall had serviced for a long time approached Joe and asked if he would be interested in conducting a critical search to replace a long-serving retiree. Joe met the Managing Director and Owner, of this boutique Financial Services and Industrials specialist retained Executive Search firm to discuss their requirement and how he could plug this gap in a timely, effective way with a solution that was tailored to suit their needs.


Following an initial market overview meeting, the client firm was completely confident in what Joe could bring to the table
in terms of realistic deliverables. Joe agreed with the client that he will lead this search on a fully project managed basis,
working exclusively as a sole supplier on this mandate for a period of 6 months – this gave him enough time to explore the
market fully and due to the nature of the hire, from experience, he knew that the pool of talent was sparse. Joe’s first step was the interrogation of Carlin Hall’s extensive database to identify people already known to him who could be appropriate. He identified the candidate that would be able to add value to his client through a referral and approached them directly via a headhunt call. Transparency was key for his client from the start. Which is why Joe agreed to his long and short list document to be visible at all times throughout the process, so the client knew he was operating in a timely fashion and where he was up to at any point throughout the project.

Joe’s was to identify approximately 15-20 individuals who were then further assessed and screened. Notwithstanding, the number of
individuals identified was not going to be limited to achieve the objective of finding a Partner for this hire. Joe then built upon the
foundation data, assessing the individual’s motivations and appetite to move. He prioritised the strongest and most relevant individuals who were then invited to a ‘face to face’ session. These interviews were held at an appropriate venue, one that offers discretion and accessibility for the candidate.

Following this, the candidates were invited to several different sessions with leadership/stakeholders with the firm and then closed
over an informal dinner with the client. Joe supported the client and candidate throughout the process with a verbal overview, outlining each candidate’s experience and their resulting level of interest and commitment.


Once a preferred candidate was identified, Joe then managed the ‘offer process,’ which was the most sensitive stage. Through close contact and communication, he supported the chosen candidate as they navigated their way through the challenges of leaving one business and joining another. He was also responsible for obtaining suitable referencing following final interview stage. Joe committed resource and dedicated time to this search which enabled the project conclusion after just 6 weeks – rather than the 10-
week timeline that was initially agreed – which was delightful for his client. The client was so happy with the outcome they also briefed him on a second mandate to hire a Senior Partner less than 3 months following the completion of this search.

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