Global Business Development Director

(Food Ingredients, Agriculture, Animal Nutrition)

The project

The Client needed to hire a Global Business Development Director, as they had recently finished the acquisition of a wildly recognised SME with a strong portfolio. However, the team had already gone through several changes prior to the acquisition, including management reshuffling.

A manager with an eye for business development was needed. Firstly, their main focus would be on solidifying the product groups and the strategy. Secondly, brand positioning and marketing planning to facilitate continuous communication with the industry, clients and internal departments. 

Most importantly, the team needed a mentor after the integration. To sum it up, a versatile and inspiring Business Development Director with a positive attitude and an eye for synergies.

During their own search, The Client concluded that the team aspect is the hardest to find. In addition, the role needed to be filled by Jan 2021.

This is when BASSWOOD was engaged. To find a capable leader, we agreed that the search could expand into Food Ingredients, Crop Sciences & Animal Nutrition markets.

The initial brief for the Business Development Director was…

  • Strong Team Leader, with the ability to coach, mentor and inspire people
  • Ideally, someone without prior P&L experience, as this responsibility is handled higher in the matrix
  • Proven success in Business & Marketing strategy development (digital marketing skills would be ideal)
  • International network and knowledge of speciality agribusiness sectors
  • A professional, who thrives in a matrix environment
  • Able to relocate to Switzerland.

Our method & solution

Basswood began intensive data mining in the global Food Ingredients, Crop Sciences and Animal Nutrition industry, with a focus on Senior Commercial Leaders with Marketing experience.

  • Total leads identified: 164
  • Total candidates interested: 36

Important finding: Commercial team leaders with marketing experience, would already have a P&L responsibility. Securing a candidate with digital marketing skills added to the challenge. In contrast, leaders without a P&L, who have commercial and marketing skills, manage teams indirectly.

Client decision: Focus less on marketing and more on business development skills. Direct team management and a coach-mentality remain a must. Candidates who are happy to progress into a complex role without a P&L can be considered.

Candidates shortlisted: After updating expectations, we were able to qualify 13 professionals, from which 5 were selected for the shortlist.

Hired profile: MSc in Agriculture, MBA. Senior business developer and leader with a successful track record in leading business units through M&A. Warm and team-focused personality. In addition, experienced in marketing and managing innovation synergies across different product lines.

Success timeline for the Business Development Director

  • Assignment sign-off: 31st of July 2020
  • Planned Shortlist submission: 26th of August 2020
  • Actual Shortlist submission: 26th of August 2020 (13 profiles discussed, 5 profiles shortlisted)
  • 1st stage interviews: all 5 candidates selected, with interviews arranged throughout September 2020
  • 2nd stage interviews: 3 candidates selected, with interviews arranged throughout October 2020
  • Final stage: 2 candidates selected, concluding interviews arranged at the end of October 2020

Successful conclusion

Contract with the chosen candidate signed in December 2020, with the position starting in January 2021.

Lessons learned from the Business Development Director project

  1. Set clear expectations for yourself and the people you wish to hire.
  2. Recognise which of the “ideal skills” are truly necessary for the chosen individual to succeed in the business. We all want the unicorn, who can do it all. Unfortunately, unicorns are hard to find and, in some areas, they simply do not exist. Digital marketing, while important, is not a skill all Business Leaders possess.

Why choose Basswood?

More often than not, professionals with team management, and business development skills in the agribusiness sectors, manage a P&L. While there can be a reluctance to progress in a role without this element, it all comes down to how the opportunity is communicated from the offset.

BASSWOOD asked the key questions. What is your business offering to Senior Leaders? What challenges are they solving and how will they be recognised and rewarded? Do you need someone who can communicate the benefits of joining your business effectively? Or someone who will honestly advise you on what is possible?

By simply qualifying the strong points of the business, we helped The Client engage and attract the right person.

Get in touch with us and let us handle it!

You May Also Like…



The Client had a newly built office and production facility to serve the West African market for Food Ingredients and needed a Technical Sales Manager. As this was a new region for the company, the internal employee network wasn’t yielding results.



After a successful M&A, The Client needed to recruit strategic global roles for their business unit. A Global Swine Expert could be recruited after the Global Poultry Expert had successfully started in the business a few months earlier.