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How to find a good SME Chairman?
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May 2016


How to find a good Chairman in the SME sector?


It’s evident from my research that most SME Chairman are still found through the “Black Books” of the CEO and Board or via the VC, as clearly there is a strong bias towards a known and trusted Chairman rather than a new and unknown senior executive.


However, 3 year terms come round quickly and with that the opportunity to gain diversity as well as fresh skills, contacts, attitudes and ideas.


But it’s much easier to remain with an existing “known” Chairman and renew the term, hire another contact from The Black Book or remain as combined Chairman and CEO.


But is this appropriate or, indeed, good for business? Are there alternative options?


It appears that in the larger firm independence, compliance and transparency are deemed more essential, with PLC, government and public sector roles often being searched or advertised in order to offer a fair process and all the diversity that that implies.


However, at the SME level, these are not so often the drivers- although clearly they should be!


It’s often past associations and friendships that come to the fore as well as cost and timeframes- a head-hunter will want significant fees and adverts take time and money to process with in- house HR teams if you have any and/ or the Board running the selection and shortlisting process.


After all, with none of the above investment of time and money, a known Chairman can be lunched and appointed, or indeed, re-appointed within a matter of days!


But in the current climate, and with the opportunity for growth that the significant SME sector clearly offers to the UK, it is more compelling for the SME board and/or VC to move on and start hiring their Chairmen and NED’s as though they were appointing a new C-Level executive either via a full and proper search or capitalising on the new breed of appointment and networking sites such as The Chairman’s Network.


A Chairman, VC, NXD or CEO with a mandate to appoint a new Chairman now has a number of alternatives to The Black Book.


Advertising on our Private Site


A private site such as The Chairman’s Network has access to a number of potential active and passive Chairmen in the UK and Internationally who will view any roles advertised in their sphere of interest and apply directly to you. They are invariably always looking for their next appointment and can clearly run up to 5 concurrent appointments. This is a unique resource. Cost £250 upwards depending on your membership and the exposure required.


Networking on a confidential platform


If you are also a Member of The Chairman’s Network you can search for potential candidates based on a number of criteria- the back end search of the Your Membership platform is very powerful and highly functional and was selected as the Best of Breed choice for The Chairman’s Network. Cost £240.00 plus VAT if you join as a Chairman, CEO, MD or Advisory Board.


Are you hiring a number of Chairmen or NXD’s/CEO’s such as a VC?


If so, you need to join as a Service Provider where you can build your network and advertise your roles on an ongoing basis- potentially appointing several executives to your Companies’ Boards with or without the heavily discounted advertising (50%). You can have meetings all year at no additional expense and appoint senior executives with no additional fees. You can also host and invite our Members to events. VC’s could become major beneficiaries of our highly relevant network.


Using a Search firm to do all the work for you! Search firms are also Service Providers.


There are many benefits:


  • A job description can be agreed that reflects all of the interests of the Board as well as the company, it’s sector and focus and which also acts as the template for the role

  • A diverse shortlist can be brought together based on known and unknown candidates that fit the above criteria

    A proper selection process can be managed over one month at most (to shortlist stage) therefore not extrapolating the process and a new Chairman/CEO/NXD can be appointed within weeks if the process is well managed.

  • In many cases the new Chairman is available as he/she can run many appointments simultaneously and a suitable handover can be managed with the existing Chairman


Many Executive Search forms focus at PLC level and already know many of the players- but they often find the SME sector challenging due to the breadth and diversity of potential companies and target candidates.


As a Service Provider, Hayward & Associates will agree a set fee for Members of The Chairman’s Network. Additional Search Firms will offer different terms.


We also welcome other relevant Executive Search firms as Service Providers so that we can offer our Members the best possible range of opportunities.



Caroline Hayward, CEO of Hayward & Associates, founded the Chairman’s Network and is already known to thousands of Chairmen, Non Executives and CEO’s in the SME sector.



Caroline Hayward, CEO, Hayward & Associates Executive Search and The Chairman’s Network.

+44 (0)1242 236277

+44(0)7798 870581






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