Exploring the African Diaspora to fill a niche role in a global development bank

Published 15/05/2020 - 4 min Read

By Nina Johnson

Business Development Manager

Quick Summary Discover how Armstrong Craven search the world to find rare talent.

4 min Read

The Challenge

A US based global development bank, needed to fill the key role of Senior Investment Officer, Madagascar. The institution is committed to developing local talent and recognised that for this role in particular, an African national would be the best fit.

If the bank could recruit an African national that spoke the local dialect and had local connections, paired with international experience, they would be able to tap into lucrative government project finance deals. The right candidate would be able to expand the footprint of the business in Africa and bring in new sources of revenue through private sector partnerships.

The nature of the business called for a rare combination of skills and experience: an individual with substantial expertise in international project finance, as well as considerable local knowledge and understanding of infrastructure deals in Africa. The client was also seeking someone who had an MBA to demonstrate broad-based business acumen. To be successful in this role, the candidate would need to speak fluent French and English and ideally be an African national with experience of studying and working in the West.

Our Approach

Armstrong Craven’s proven and transparent research led process and track record of conducting searches in 105 countries, gave the client the confidence that our research team would be successful in securing the right candidate for the role. With almost two decades of expertise in research driven executive search,

Armstrong Craven’s researchers examined a range of sources including international press, the company’s in-house and specialist industry databases, conference delegate lists and MBA school alumni.

Very quickly, we generated a list of organisations that might employ people of this calibre and profile as well as names of individuals who might be potential targets or could make recommendations. In particular, we approached banks with French-speaking teams, African development and finance organisations and independent advisors in the sector.

Engaging with these groups and individuals to seek recommendations and begin to approach candidates,Armstrong Craven demonstrated that success in executive search is dependent on having the right contacts, not necessarily on having a local presence. We made good use of our multi-lingual resources, extending the search across cities and continents and drilling down into individual banks to locate the appropriate Africa-focused teams and specifically project finance professionals working on the African trade desks.

Concluding a search covering 120 contacts in 55 organisations and 25 countries across Africa, Europe and the USA, Armstrong Craven produced a shortlist of three candidates. From this list, the client selected a French-speaking Ivory Coast national working for a merchant bank in Johannesburg, a candidate who had been recommended by an Armstrong Craven contact in the USA.

Armstrong Craven applied a classic networking approach to a very tough brief. The success was due to our unparalleled depth and quality of data and contacts, allowing a global project to be completed swiftly and thoroughly, locating not just candidates who were available, but those who were best qualified, and best fit, for the job.

The Results

We discovered that the challenges that this business faced were partly due to prevailing market conditions, but also partly attributable to the existing management team. The market in which they were operating had become saturated and their services commoditised.

While its competitors had developed new, experiential and bespoke marketing offerings, this company had not been as responsive to market trends. They were experiencing increasing difficulty in differentiating their services from their competitors’. Their profile had dropped as a result. Flaws in business development and tendering processes were also hindering business wins.

Our recommendations included taking steps to raise the profile of the organisation; addressing concerns raised with the current CEO; and adapting to new market realities by adopting a ‘Go-to-market’ model for strengthening the business development effort: targeting the right people, with the right product, at the right price, in the right way and the right place.

There was a double gain from the work undertaken. Not only was the client given an objective critique of their subsidiary’s performance, but they also received a comprehensive review of their market and recommendations for how to tackle it.

We needed to rely upon our extensive experience of similarly sensitive commercial due diligence projects. We were discreet in our information gathering. Our understanding of the complex problems that this business faced was subtle. Our recommendations were sympathetic and well founded.

This was a bespoke solution to a particular client’s needs. Armstrong Craven knows that there isn’t an effective, standard way of delivering this type of intervention so we work with every client to shape a project plan that best suits their needs, their timescale and their budget.

Access the Spring 2020 Armstrong Craven Review

The Spring 2021 edition of the Armstrong Craven Review is now available. In this edition, our experts have been taking an in-depth look into Diversity & Inclusion in the USA, the importance of Succession Planning, HR’s role in the recovery of the workplace and consider if Tech Talent is truly sector agnostic. 

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