Case Study: Private Equity Backed Outsourcing Company


Toner Graham was approached by a client via a referral to recruit for a Head of Shared Services for an outsourcing business in the North West. The Client had already engaged with a variety of local and national consultancy firms who had drawn a blank.

They required a transformation specialist who could help them present shared services more efficiently and were expecting the results to include significant cost savings. The brief was to search for a shared services ‘guru’ who could help them off-shore elements of shared services whilst gaining greater centralisation of the other elements remaining in the UK.

The role had been live in the market for a significant period of time and there was a danger that candidates would be wary, wondering if something was wrong with the role on offer.

We advised a change of job title and the fresh approach of targeted advertising on different websites that had not yet been used. This combined with online network research enabled us to deliver an extremely high quality short list of candidates that had not previously been covered by other firms.

From this shortlist, two strong candidates were progressed and the preferred candidate eventually appointed after a smooth offer management process.

Moving forward the candidate achieved all targets for off-shoring and centralisation significantly ahead of schedule, whilst improving on the cost reduction target that had been set.

Case Study:  Blue Chip FMCG Organisation


Back in the 1990’s Toner Graham established a new relationship with blue chip FMCG organisation in the South West.  Within the Region there were in excess of 100 accountants representing one of the largest finance teams in the area.

The two businesses worked closely together and as Toner Graham was able to quickly understand the candidate profile a number of successful placements were made.  It became clear that our ability to consistently introduce the right type of individual provided the foundation for what was to become a long term partnership.  Following these early successes the relationship was formalised and Toner Graham was awarded sole supplier status for all their finance recruitment in our South West Region.

Over the next few years a significant number of mid to senior level finance roles were successfully filled by Toner Graham across different areas of the finance function from commercial to financial control and operations.  Strong relationships were developed both with the HR function and also with each individual finance recruiter.  A significant investment of time was made both by Toner Graham and the clients’ employees to ensure we had a deep understanding of the business and its culture to enable us to identify the right type of people hence ensure we were able to nurture their interest in the client as an employer.

The focus of the business changed leading to a greater demand for part to newly / recently qualified accountants, albeit with the same exacting standards of calibre and cultural fit.  Such candidates are notoriously difficult to source as they are both in high demand and short supply.

In response to this Toner Graham developed a number of high quality targeted marketing initiatives from innovative mail shots to hosting networking events with the local accounting institutes to ensure we could continue to meet this new demand.

The success continued and the partnership strengthened to the extent that the client would brief us with their forward recruitment plans often 6-12 months ahead, to the benefit of both parties.

In 2004 the client was required by its parent company to conduct a formal PSL review and Toner Graham had to bid for the renewal of our sole supplier status.  The process was Procurement led and the team were unaware of our history hence our bid was based purely on how we operate and what we could do for them.  After a number of meetings, presentations and discussions our sole supplier status was confirmed and our relationship continues ever strong to this day.

In summary our relationship with this client demonstrates in particular the following:

Our ability to establish, maintain and develop long term mutually beneficial relationships.
Our ability to consistently deliver and maintain service continuity over many years.
Our belief in the value of investing time in gaining a deep understanding of the business, its culture and its people.
Our willingness and ability to listen to changing requirements and adapt quickly.
The added value we can bring in supporting future human resource planning.

Case Study: Construction Plc


In 2003 Toner Graham started to develop a relationship with a well known business in the construction industry, working with them in the South West and making a number of high calibre placements. Cultural fit was critical because the business was a highly results driven operational environment with a high profile and visible finance function requiring strong, robust individuals who could think on their feet and win the respect of a truly diverse audience.

Through a series of detailed discussions around each recruitment campaign and meeting the majority of the decision makers we were able to understand not only what type of individual was being sought but why, enabling us to think laterally and also engender interest in the right people.

The relationship developed successfully with the client over the next four years until it was finally sold to an oversees acquirer in 2007.  A substantial restructuring programme then ensued resulting in a new UK company being created.  Our previous senior sponsors left the business but we managed to get an opportunity to pitch for a substantial campaign to help create the new UK finance function – approximately 20 vacancies in total.  Our pitch was successful and the campaign began in 2008. 

At this time the economy was moving into a very challenging phase and the construction industry in particular was hit hard.  The client needed the very best talent at every level to help drive the business through this challenging period to effect a transformation and yet candidates were understandably concerned about the sector.

The vacancies were to be based in two locations – one existing and one new and therefore spanned two of our geographical regions.  Toner Graham was able to put the right resource behind this project to deliver a satisfactory outcome.  With dedicated consultants from each of the two regions working closely together, a number of proactive marketing initiatives were undertaken to attract a sufficient candidate pipeline.  These included on and off line advertising, database management, networking and generating referrals.

The knowledge we were able to share with prospective candidates coupled with our comprehensive consultancy approach meant we were able to identify the right people and engender interest sufficient to warrant further exploration whilst ensuring their eyes were open regarding the challenges.

After 6 months we had successfully filled all but 1 or 2 of the vacancies.  There were a number of challenges and pressures along the way and each time we would listen, respond and move forward.

During the months to follow as the market worsened drastically and a number of our placements were anxious about their futures numerous “in confidence” conversations were had with our consultants.  The majority of candidates we placed are still there and positive about how their careers have developed.

The above case study demonstrates the following about the Toner Graham service:

Our ability to join our resources to deliver a complex multi-location and multi-vacancy campaign
Our ability to act as ambassadors for your organisation – during very challenging circumstances
Our pro-active approach to generate sufficient candidate pipeline to fill multiple roles
Our determination to work through and overcome challenges to a successful conclusion
Our usually hidden post-placement service often counselling and advising candidates we have placed and the clients into whom we place them, in complete confidence.

Case Study: CFO £800m Retail Group


In 2010 Toner Graham were approached to tender to recruit for a prestigious CFO role for a renowned and diverse retail group. We were selected ahead of three other boutique search firms due to our ability to provide demonstrable evidence of our track record of completing retained assignments of this nature. This combined with our wide geographical coverage along with a team approach (input of all exec recruiters across our business) made us the recruiter of choice for this role.

We recognised from the brief how critical it was not only to ensure that we found the highest calibre in terms of experience, but also to identify a highly diplomatic personality due to the unusually high number of stakeholders the post holder would need to influence.

Because of the precise personality requirements, we felt that it was vital that we focus our efforts in this area, as the postholder would not only have to communicate with multiple external and internal stakeholders but also be ultimately responsible for over 100 staff.

We conducted a multi faceted recruitment campaign which included a search of our extensive and mature database, advertising on all major online job boards including Exec-appointments and an executive search utilising our experienced research team.

All appropriate candidates who were identified were given a rigorous interview specifically for the role (even if they were well known to Toner Graham) to ensure that they not only had the skills but also possessed the interpersonal qualities to integrate smoothly into the business.

From this activity, a high level shortlist of five candidates was delivered and accepted for interview by the client. In between the time it took to shortlist and interview candidates, we continued our search in the background to make sure we had left no stone unturned. This in fact identified an excellent candidate in between first and second client interview stages who was slotted into the process and eventually became one of the last two candidates.

During our recruitment campaigns we have learned to never rest on our laurels and take for granted that our shortlist cannot be improved upon. Therefore we continue to search until an offer is made and accepted by the candidate.

After three rounds of client interviews which include testing and a presentation, an offer was made to the desired candidate. Due to our in depth discussions with the client, we were able to advise where they should pitch their offer in order to gain an acceptance which made this part of the process run very smoothly.

The assignment was completed on time and within budget and the post holder is now in situ and making a positive impact on the business.