In the natural world, a living organism is either growing or dying. That’s equally true in the business arena. As James Cash Penney, the founder of JC Penney, once said, “No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.”
Perhaps that’s why such iconic companies as Kellogg’s, Colgate-Palmolive, PayPal, Best Buy and even the world’s most recognizable brand, Coca-Cola, have added chief growth officers to their executive suites in recent years. In making such a move, companies tend to point to a need to either accelerate growth or bring an enterprise-wide focus toward executing a growth strategy. Coca-Cola, for instance, had seen a pronounced drop-off in its revenue, as consumers moved from sugary beverages to healthier choices. The company felt it was time to rethink itself.
A Long-Term Vision
Ideal CGOs think about growth not simply in quarterly cycles, but with a longer-term vision in mind. Kellogg’s CGO, for instance, describes his role this way: “to articulate a growth vision and turn it into a reality.” While the role can be fundamentally different in various companies, it generally encompasses the main tasks of a traditional chief marketing officer: lead generation, branding/positioning, messaging strategy and new product introductions. With much more added in too.
In some companies, the addition of a chief growth officer might arise from a nagging frustration that chief marketing officers are not directly responsible for driving growth. CGOs are tasked with not simply finding new markets and products that will add incremental revenue growth, but with orchestrating true strategic growth that will dramatically improve the business by broadening its horizons. To achieve that, some organizations give the CGO supervision of all customer-focused activities–research & development, customer experience, change management and customer service. In some cases, the CGO even directly oversees the sales team.
What We Have Learned
As an organization, we have learned valuable lessons about the primacy of growth environments from working with venture capital and private equity groups in assembling talent. Due to their inherent nature, these types of organizations have a heightened concentration on creating value as rapidly as possible by building top-line revenue growth while hitting EBITDA targets. As a result, these companies have growth as their organizing principle.
That experience has helped us bring a growth perspective to everything we do as executive search consultants—both in helping our clients grow their organizations by finding the right talent, and also helping candidates adopt a growth perspective in their own careers.
Our Signature Search Process™ focuses on identifying game-changing talent among high-quality passive candidates who will become long-term assets in a client’s organization. We tap our vast talent network—which includes thousands of experienced passive candidates—to find the most qualified candidate who will also be a cultural fit for each client’s unique environment.
The types of candidates we look for across all of our practice areas generally have these traits:
- An ability to inspire
- An ability to work with the entire leadership team
- A comfort with numbers
- A provocative thinker
- A collegial nature that encourages the creation of cross-functional teams and the destruction of internal silos
- An agile mind that doesn’t get stuck in old assumptions and stale thought patterns.
Like any good chief growth officer, who must have the trust of the CEO but also be able to stretch and challenge his or her thinking, we are most valuable to our clients when we act as both trusted advisors and challengers of status quo thinking.
About Torch Group
Established in 1990, Torch Group is a nationally recognized, boutique retained executive search firm focused on senior management, executive, and C-level talent that has been selected and evaluated based upon a comprehensive set of competencies for mission-critical roles. Key industries and business sectors we serve include foodservice, hospitality, food & beverage, consumer products, construction & building materials, software & technology and manufacturing.
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- Posted by Torch Group
- On July 11, 2019
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