Remote CEO Selection Across 12 Time Zones

4 Clocks With Different Time Zones - Kathbern Management Toronto Executive Headhunters

What do you do when there is no time for a cross-global trip and yet a recruitment process has to be run and a new executive chosen?

A large international engineering company based in Sydney, Australia (Coffey Engineering – had recently acquired an engineering consulting firm located near Toronto.  The key principal of the acquired firm would continue, and wanted to remain the leader of that organization, however, Coffey wanted to have a new CEO of its own choosing.  They contacted Kathbern Management, a Toronto recruitment agency, to assist them with the search for this critically important individual.

The twist in this assignment was that the hiring executive from Coffey (himself based in Perth, Australia) would not be available to travel to Canada for two months and yet finding and hiring a new leader for the acquired company was urgent and had to be done as soon as possible.

Read More: The Top 8 Common Recruiting Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) 

Kathbern communicated with Coffey by phone and email to gather the necessary information to enable us to begin a recruitment search for an individual with the right combination of skills, experience and ability to run an organization independently where the person that they would report to was located 18,000 km away.  The next few weeks were spent in the recruitment process, scouring the Canadian landscape for people with consulting engineering and large project construction backgrounds, ultimately narrowing the field to four candidates that Coffey wanted to interview via videoconference.  A high-quality video conference facility would be required for hosting the interviews at the candidates’ end.  The only times available for these four interviews were two days in May – Monday at 8:00 am and 10:00 am and Tuesday at 8:00 am and 10:00 am – SYDNEY TIME!  In Canada, those days happened to fall on Sunday and (holiday) Monday of the Victoria Day long weekend.Video Conference Lounge - Kathbern Management Toronto Executive Headhunters

To add to the recruitment challenge, of the four candidates, two would be available in the Toronto area, one would be traveling in the Victoria, BC area and one would be traveling in Seoul, South Korea.

We were able to make arrangements for weekend availability at a videoconferencing facility in Toronto (The Rostie Group – on the Sunday evening (Monday morning in Sydney) for two candidates and Monday afternoon (Victoria Day) in Victoria, BC (Tuesday morning in Sydney).  For the candidate in South Korea, we were able to make arrangements for him at a hotel that offered video conferencing facilities at the right time so that he would be available for Tuesday morning Sydney time.

Following these four videoconferencing interviews, one candidate was selected for further discussions in the recruitment process.  He had international construction and finance experience as a manager and senior executive.  Since a change of ownership can often result in some chaffing of egos, his personality was a good fit for this situation where Coffey wanted to have a smooth operator at the helm.

Handshake Over a Map of the World - Kathbern Management Toronto Executive HeadhuntersAfter several one-on-one phone discussions and negotiations, an agreement was reached and, after Kathbern completed a thorough review of the chosen candidate’s employment references and other background checks, the recruitment process was concluded albeit totally remotely.  Despite the obvious difficulties caused by the lack of face-to-face interaction and the time zone problem, Coffey deserves credit for being organized and decisive in their process and decision making.  Read More: Don’t Fail to Launch Your Employee Search to find out about the importance of focus and decisiveness when it comes to recruitment

Some six weeks after having started in his new role, the new CEO finally met his boss face-to-face when the latter was able to make time for a visit to Canada.


Kathbern Management is a Toronto-based recruitment firm focused on working with organizations who are seeking to find and hire the key people who are critical for their success.  

Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.

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