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I am very excited to bring you a President/CEO search for a subsidiary of one of the largest 3PLs in North America. Our client, which is headquartered in the eastern US, has annual revenues approaching $2 billion and serves many Fortune 500 and Internet Retailer Top 500 clients in over 26 major markets in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Our client’s ability to deliver initial and ongoing value has resulted in a loyal customer base with an average longevity of 14 years.

The subsidiary’s value proposition and highly effective business model are well-known throughout the ecommerce industry. Total sales of the business you would run are between $150 and $200 million, with direct sales to B2B customers accounting for roughly 80% of the business. The client operates online wholesale and retail sites which currently account for the balance of the sales, with the goal of taking this online side of the business to 30-35% of the total business over a three-year time frame.

You will preside over this transition.

I spent several hours on the phone with key members of the hiring committee, and I have a wealth of information to share with qualified candidates about this client. Naturally, for competitive reasons there’s a limit to what I can discuss in a publicly available job posting.

What I can tell you is that this client possesses a number of very strong advantages up and down its value chain, starting with relationships with many of America’s largest big box and online retailers and ending with its own deep knowledge of its customers’ needs and values.

The client’s three-year revenue goals for both its B2B and B2C businesses are aggressive yet attainable. However, in order to achieve these goals, the new CEO will need to manage a blend of critical issues, including IT, sourcing, lean logistics, financing, marketing, and ecommerce. Plus, he/she will need to draw on a wealth of personal character traits, including:

  • Intelligence. The client’s business involves a great deal of complexity even though it is relatively asset light. In short order, the new CEO will have to get his/her head wrapped around how this business unit can contribute to the parent company’s total enterprise value through growth, efficiency, and capital optimization.
  • An entrepreneurial mind-set with orientation toward prudent risk taking and relentless innovation.
  • Drive, which would manifest itself in a willingness to seize opportunities when they arise. Clearly seizing the right opportunities when they arise implies certain things about the company’s level of financial discipline, which the new CEO would need to impose.
  • An ability to set priorities and eliminate any roadblocks to the firm’s growth and profitability.
  • Results-oriented with an ability to push himself/herself and others relentlessly for results that are measurable, objective, relevant, and controllable.
  • An ability to deal with ambiguity and make accurate, timely decisions based on a mixture of analysis, experience, and wisdom.
  • Rock solid integrity, trust and accountability which produce high standards for ethics and values.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to quickly establish credibility and then lead and motivate a highly-driven management team.
  • A talent for evaluating people, whether internally or externally. This trait would manifest itself in the CEO’s ability to hire the best people and build around them.
  • An ability to manage with vision and purpose, informed by an ability to see beyond today.

Broadly speaking, any good CEO drives shareholder value through three levers: Growth, Efficiency, and Capital Optimization.

Given that you will lead a subsidiary of a well-funded, cash flow-positive company, you won’t need to focus on optimizing the company’s capital structure. Yes, you will need to be financially literate. However, you won’t need to be an expert in corporate finance, as most of the firm’s decisions regarding the rationalization / allocation and structure of capital will be handled by the company’s finance team.

During these interviews, you should, however, be prepared to discuss at length numerous ways to drive growth, including …

  1. Expansion of the firm’s business scope through new business development; product line extensions; unique product /service bundles; and market expansion.
  2. Improvement in the competitiveness of the client’s current business, including improvements in its core value proposition; strengthening of its market awareness and brand positioning; and the solidification of its customer relationships in both the B2B and B2C arenas.

Additionally, the client and I will be interviewing around your ability to drive efficiencies in their business through any combination of the following means …

  1. Operational efficiencies, including value chain redesigns; reductions in economic costs and activities; and better managed assets.
  2. Organizational efficiencies, including the creation and implementation of value-based strategies. This is a matter of making sure that, going forward, the right people are on the bus (and that they are in the right seats). This is about taking an organization from good to great.

Obviously, this is a giant role that goes way beyond our usual VP of Ecommerce fare.

As CEO of the client’s subsidiary business, your job is to give direction to the entire organization. You will need to think through its mission, help it set objectives, and organize resources to drive the desired results. You will need to organize work for productivity, and lead the team towards productivity and achievement. Additionally, you’ll be responsible for the social impact of the enterprise.

In short, this role is all about leading.


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