Setting The Stage
Micro Focus is a global software company that helps enterprises transform their digital business with enterprise application software across DevOps, hybrid IT management, security and predictive analytics.
In 2017, the company did a $8.8B spinoff merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to combine its existing portfolio with HPE software assets, giving customers and partners access to its new spectrum of products with enhanced value and innovation.
Following this merger, Micro Focus became a $3.2 billion giant, thus transforming into one of the world’s largest pure-play enterprise software companies.
As with any union of large organizations, this ambitious merger of two software leaders – designed to help customers maximize existing software investments and embrace innovation in a world of Hybrid IT – came with its fair share of complexities. At the top of the list of challenges to be worked out were infrastructure and operational issues, which company leaders were working to address at all levels, having started down the strategic path to bring together this newly created organization.
For this massive transformation to be successful, recruiting and retaining talent became a top priority. Change of this magnitude can bring uncertainty and fear, and the company had to direct its efforts on not only figuring out how to operate in their new normal, but make sure they had the right resources allocated to the right priorities while keeping the workforce focused, motivated and delivering against business objectives. This was not easy to do, and the company suffered some attrition before it started stabilizing.
Then the global pandemic hit and with it, global business uncertainty.
Micro Focus forged ahead with a steadfast vision for the business, particularly through the emphasis on building a world-class global sales organization, focusing on critical areas with huge potential for growth like the security market and the North America region.
With the commitment of the board and executive leaders confirmed for continued investment in these important areas, Micro Focus now needed a strong partner to find the right senior-level talent to fill leadership roles. The company had to have a partner who really understood their current and desired state, could quickly gather institutional knowledge to ensure an effective search, and deliver the most qualified candidates with the appropriate level of experience and attitude for the best possible cultural fit.
Talent acquisition, especially during a time of ongoing transformation combined with a shifting economic landscape, requires vision and courage. Micro Focus undertook the search process, which was led by Jon Hunter, Chief Revenue Officer, and his leadership team, to fill the two spots of a Global Security Head of Sales and a Head of Sales for North America. The recruiting partner chosen for this challenge was ON Partners, with Aaron Clark, one of their senior strategic consultants.
ON Partners was chosen based on deep industry knowledge and expertise in executive talent acquisition, their ability to build trust with the hiring executives, and proven, strong network of qualified candidates. Micro Focus had a small recruiting team internally that was empowered to make decisions, and Clark and the team engaged with them and the hiring executives to build the right relationships and deliver great candidates with great efficiency and impact.
Micro Focus was looking for resilient, transformational leaders with proven track records who could jump into the middle of a massive turnaround during a global pandemic. All things considered, this was an extremely difficult search to undertake.
However, Clark and the ON Partners team were able to deliver two fantastic candidates who were well-qualified on every front. They brought strong capabilities to drive the company’s investments that were most critical to protecting the Micro Focus customer base while building pipeline and growing revenue.
As a result of this successful partnership with ON Partners, Micro Focus hired Scott Walston as President, North America Sales, a proven leader with more than 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience who is passionate about teams and developing world-class sales organizations with a commitment for customer success.
In addition, the company hired Matthew Marriott as Head of Global Security Sales. With a wealth of sales leadership experience, including an eighteen-year career at IBM where he held a variety of senior executive posts in services and global sales, Marriott joins Micro Focus from Acoustic, where he was the Global Chief Revenue Officer, responsible for $250 million in revenue in 2019.
Noted Jon Hunter, “A major challenge for us was finding high-level executive talent in a very competitive situation. We were looking for people who understood and could lead in the risk-reward landscape that comes with turnarounds and transformations. We had already laid out the first phase of the turnaround, and we needed the right leaders to step into place to drive the next phase. Aaron and team spent the appropriate amount of time with us to make sure that we get it right – working quickly but never rushed.
Aaron intimately understood the culture of Micro Focus, building a trusted relationship not just with me but my team. Having impactful interactions with impressive candidates further encouraged the Micro Focus team to be open and committed to swift action.”
Noted Clark, “Witnessing the commitment and investment that Jon Hunter and the Micro Focus leadership is willing to make to see its transformation succeed, especially during an event as disruptive as a global pandemic, was powerful. Partnering with Jon and the team was a rewarding experience and I am happy to play a part in the company’s transformation.”
ON Partners propels an organization’s mission by building C-level and board leadership teams. Founded in 2006 by like-minded consultants as a values-driven alternative to the multi-service global firms they were leaving behind, ON delivers a better executive search experience. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists six times, the firm is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S. For more information, see our results here.
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