How to quickly build a world-class finance team
29th June 2011
Talking to Lumesse chief financial officer Duncan Love you get a clear sense of a business that’s been through a lot of fast-paced, positive change and has plenty more to come. Formerly known as StepStone Solutions, the company rebranded to Lumesse in May, the next in a series of steps resulting from a €110m private equity-backed management buy-out in April 2010. Until that time, it had been owned by German publishing giant Axel Springer as the software solutions division of StepStone, Europe’s leading internet job site.
“Lumesse today is a very different business to the one I joined five years ago, says Love.
“Revenue has grown eight-fold to €80m including 20% growth in 2011. Our strategy is to continue executing on organic growth supplemented by carefully chosen acquisitions that meet with our long term strategy. The last 18 months has been spent on two M&A transactions, one being our next largest European competitor plus a recent successful re-financing. This overlapped with our first group audit and a tax restructuring; both time-consuming and complex projects.
“While we knew we had to strengthen the company’s finance team, all of this coming together towards the end of last year meant that it became a management priority; we needed to build finance’s capability to match the company’s growing scale, sophistication and ambition. I expected a challenge to find good people who could add real value in a fast evolving business like this; it’s a very different reporting regime under private equity ownership; it’s not just about sales, revenue and EBITDA but also greater emphasis on working capital and cash management, and at times can be quite demanding. However, they managed to find us just the right people.”
BIE had previously carried out a successful search to find a chief technology officer for StepStone Solutions. After that positive experience, the firm’s human resources director was happy to refer Duncan Love to a finance search specialist at BIE.
“I first met Duncan in October and in taking the initial brief for a financial controller it was clear that he needed some immediate project support for his tax and audit projects,”.
So while the search process for a group financial controller began, BIE’s interim finance specialist set to work and quickly placed two people to provide much needed short-term support. After filling the first role, BIE was then asked to find an operational finance director and latterly a head of tax and treasury for Lumesse.
“These were three, very different and specialist senior-level finance roles. What stands out for me about them is that they delivered good advice on the right candidate profiles, they then repeatedly produced very high-quality shortlists and they did it all much faster than expected. These are the hallmarks of a very professional executive search firm. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got this from one of the larger, better-known search firms,” concludes Love.
Lumesse at a glance
Lumesse provides ‘software-as-a-service’ talent management solutions – from recruitment to performance management and succession planning – to a large blue-chip customer base with well over a million active users of its technology and around 1,700 corporate customers. Its products help the likes of BASF, British Airways, France Telecom, Heineken and Virgin Atlantic and many others to identify, nurture and develop the right people, in the right places and at the right time.