Sally Gulliver had been seeing a lot of Harry Aske, the personable, dishevelled headhunter who was helping her find a new CEO for Global Blancmange.
I wasn’t sure I approved or not. I thought I probably did. Although it did not seem unwise to reserve judgement. Especially until we saw who he came up with for the role…
Steam from the tea in Harry Aske’s mug formed lazy question marks in the air of our office as the two of them reviewed their shortlist.
‘So: we’re down to three. Sir Geoffrey’s come up with Robin Mayhew, and as Chairman, his view’s significant; plus Mayhew has a good track record…’
‘…very good, but of course we won’t favour him simply because the Chairman recommends him,’ Harry pointed out gently. ‘After all, chairmen have been wrong before.’
‘No no, of course not. But he’s a very strong candidate: very much a blue chip cv, lots of FTSE experience at CEO and COO level…’
‘He’s certainly worth seeing. But I’d question how much turnaround experience he has. I think you need a CEO who can turn a business around, and take people with them as they go…’
‘… which as we know is a hell of a trick to pull off. Whereas Mark Temple does have experience of that, and you say he’s got a good track record of engaging people. But he hasn’t got too much top job experience, and absolutely none in FMCG. In fact, he’s mostly financial services, which is a completely different beast.’
‘And then there’s Annie James. Lots of FMCG experience, quite a bit at CEO. Seems hungry. Keen.’
‘And of course it would send a hell of a message to appoint a female CEO. There are few enough of them around as it is.’
Harry frowned faintly. ‘Completely understand that. And I think Annie would be very god, having placed her before, but it’s vital we appoint the right candidate for the organisation.’
Sally frowned faintly back. ‘True, Harry. Thank goodness you said that, as I was just about to appoint completely the wrong person for the organisation…’
Next Friday: Meet Robin Mayhew
Bingleby was confiding in Richard Goff
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