Global Tobacco Company Urgently Seeks Senior Profile to Lead Crucial Agronomy Department Operations
With the existing Head of Agronomy retiring, a replacement was needed to manage all field operations and ensure financial and operational viability. The role involved overseeing the agronomy department as well as a complex and large outgrower programme.
Before Millar Cameron began their search, the role was discussed with the Regional Human Resources Director and the Agronomy Director, to gain a full understanding of the brief.
Given the magnitude of the role, both in the number of duties to perform and the number of people reporting to this person, the client required a senior profile with notable experience in a field based position. Alongside this, the ideal candidate needed to possess the correct language skills and a willingness to work in a remote environment.
As most professionals in this industry work in a small number of companies, they are often all known to each other. Therefore, the key challenge for this role was to find new profiles outside of the "usual pool" of candidates.
The candidate was required to have at least five years’ senior international tobacco experience, preferably within agronomy, and an agricultural degree. With the role being based in Tanzania, it was also important that the candidate had a strong grasp of Swahili.
To begin, Millar Cameron focused its efforts on sourcing people with experience working with tobacco in Africa, and agronomy professionals operating in other emerging markets - such as the Balkans and Southern Asia.
We ran searches from our existing database and through others, although these searches only brought up people known to our client. A further exercise of profile mining and referrals led us to some very capable profiles.
Our client also suggested that they would consider candidates from other crops, so we broadened our search to people operating in the flower, tea, sugar and coffee sectors - who had Swahili language skills.
Following this, our third exercise expanded the search even further and focused on tobacco agronomists operating in other parts of the world.
Although the majority of our shortlist was made up of African candidates, we also provided European profiles that, despite lacking the ability to speak Swahili, were still proficient in tobacco production and managing teams.
Eight candidates were presented to the client on a shortlist, who were sourced from direct headhunting, referrals and database searches.
The interview process consisted of a first-stage in-country meeting at the client’s offices, followed by the completion of a psychometric test. In the first meeting, the candidates met with the Managing Director, Agronomy Director, Head of Human Resources and the Regional Human Resources Manager.
Following the successful completion of the psychometric test, we sourced two professional references which were then submitted to the client for assessment. We were then informed that they wanted to put an offer to one of the candidates, as well as fly him up for a final visit to the operations, alongside the Agronomy Director, to provide further clarity and insight of the role.
This candidate was chosen due to his strong experience agronomically and with smallholders, his fluency in speaking Swahili and proven ability in managing large teams in a tobacco based environment.
Upon the candidate’s return, the contract was signed and the work permit application was started. Throughout the entire process, Millar Cameron supported both the client and candidate by arranging flights and briefing and debriefing both parties during all interviews.
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