ducasse_alainI recently had the pleasure of spending some time in Paris and took a class at the Alain Ducasse School of Cooking. Monsieur Ducasse has built an empire and amassed numerous Michelin stars at his restaurants around the world. One of his protégés actually taught the course I took─conducted 100% in French!  While my primary interest was acquiring skills in technique for the kitchen, I was surprised that as I julienned and sautéed, I gained fresh insights on the executive search process for hiring a CFO.

Preparation is the Key in Cooking and in Executive Search

The French say that before you start cooking you must be in a state of “mis en place,” loosely translated as “having everything in its place.” The course was Bistro cooking, meaning a simple meal well prepared. Of course, nothing could be simple in the world of Ducasse. Just as no hiring process is simple; whether you are hiring a junior accountant or a CFO one thing remains true: you need to know what you are looking for BEFORE you start looking. Mis en place! Mais oui, Chef!

An important part of my process when hiring a CFO for a client is first, to truly understand what they are looking for, and second, to help the client understand what they should be looking for. The discovery in this phase of the process goes beyond identifying the obvious skills of a CFO; it gets to the heart of the culture of the company, its growth plan, where the blind spots of the CEO are, how dynamics at the Board level affect the CFO hire, and more. This deep dive is the necessary prep work before any cooking can start. It is not trivial and must be approached systematically so when the real work begins the result is a timely, targeted, and effective search.

Three Hour Prep for Two Course Lunch Pays Off

inplaceWe spent about three hours prepping a two-course lunch consisting of a white and green asparagus salad followed by a veal tenderloin with a green pea sauce. All the heavy lifting was in the prep. Once we got to “plating” and then the enjoyment of the meal, it was clear to me why we spent so much time in the prep.

When you are hiring a CFO and are presented with a slate of candidates for consideration, you are going to be happy with the results because the prep work goes on every day of the year at Arnold Partners, and the customization for your specific needs will not be short-changed. Prep, prep, prep. Mais oui, Chef!

Let’s get cookin’ on your CFO hire. I’ve got the recipe for success. Contact me at Dave@ArnoldPartners.com.