An early-stage, venture-backed biofuels company required a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to take the reins from the founder, win the confidence of investors and accelerate the move toward commercialization.
Under the guidance of its founder, this company developed a promising portfolio of biofuel technologies. Additional funding, however, was contingent on a new CEO who could focus the company and bring the process to market. The Russell Reynolds Associates engagement team began by holding one-on-one conversations with most of the company's board members, each representing a different investor with different priorities. From these conversations, a consensus was forged that the next CEO would need impeccable technical credentials, the competencies to build and manage a refining plant, and the ability to excite employees and investors. While it was clear that the successful candidate would be found in the chemical process and refining industries, only a small subset would fulfill this list of requirements and be interested in leading a 30-person start-up.
The engagement team drew on its experience and the extensive sourcing network developed from years of C-level searches. Multiple trusted sources pointed to an executive who was new to the search team. That executive was further vetted along with other candidates, presented to the board and quickly emerged as the finalist. Six months after the new CEO took the helm, the company opened its first pilot plant and is on a clear path to commercialization.