Case Study: H J Heinz – Vice President of European Purchasing

<<  Back to case studies | Download PDF version


Gavan and I had built a good rapport after he set up Alexander Hughes Interim Management in 2001; he refers to “Trusted Advisor” in a business model he uses, so when he formed Burden Dare in August 2007 as a Management buy-out, I was delighted to continue our relationship. There was no risk to me, and Gavan has already supplied two high quality executive level interim managers since last August, one as European VP of Procurement and the other as Factory Manager at Kitt Green, the largest factory in Heinz; so they are both very senior roles.

I have worked with Gavan on a number of different executive level roles over the last five or six years, including Finance and Sales as well, and I am always impressed with the speed of service combined with the high quality candidates Burden Dare provide. I have always been able to accept Gavan’s recommendation on candidates and finding a high quality executive level interim manager now is a process I feel very confident about.


I was approached mid-September 2007 by a business associate with whom I had worked on an interim assignment in 2004. He enquired if I was interested in a piece of work for Heinz in Europe and whether I was available for six months or so. My contact thought this was a role that would be of interest and was tailor-made for me. I asked for more details and was then contacted by Gavan Burden of Burden Dare whom I had not met before. Gavan outlined the opportunity, discussed the role profile and deliverables. We considered my background, experiences and suitability. It seemed a very good fit to both of us
Gavan put two candidates forward to meet with the US-based Heinz European President and then the UK & Ireland President and HR Director. The Heinz leadership outlined the situation and the role, we discussed my background, relevant experience and explored my approach and management style. A few days later I had a telephone ‘interview’ with the President of the Continental European business.

Heinz asked for references. Sir Terry Leahy CEO of Tesco (for whom I had worked as an employee for 14 years) and Mike Hancox CEO of Otto UK (for whom I had completed two Interim assignments) kindly provided Gavan with verbal views on me. I started at Heinz on 18th October 2007.

You could describe this as a whistle stop process taking about twenty days from my initial conversation to starting at Heinz. I felt that Gavan had done a good job in finding me through his network, explaining the role and preparing me to meet with Heinz. Unusually for the Interim industry Gavan’s focus was on both his client, Heinz, and his candidate, me. Right person, right place, right time.


Nigel Perry at Heinz is a good and loyal client of mine. I first met him when he worked at Brake Brothers and I have provided him with a number of executive level interim managers over a six or seven years; we have a good working relationship and history suggests that he trusts my judgement on the candidates I present. I had consulted Nigel before the Alexander Hughes Interim buy-out and set up of Burden Dare, and I was delighted to take his phone call on 17th
September only six weeks after the transaction was completed when he asked if I could provide a VP, Procurement for Europe.

A few names sprung to mind immediately and the second call elicited the phrase “I know the man for this job” and so I was introduced to Rod, whom I finally managed to talk to on a Sunday afternoon on the way back from taking my son to Nottingham University. By the time I got home Rod’s CV was waiting and we had a more detailed discussion. I always believe in personal referrals from trusted sources and this was the case with Rod. After a more complete briefing I
presented Rod’s CV along with one other candidate and discussed the options with Nigel. After that things moved fast so that we could fix a breakfast meeting with Scott O’Hara (EVP, President & CEO Europe) who was on a scheduled, but flying, visit to the UK and Roel Van Neerbos, President of Heinz Continental Europe. Rod provided some excellent quality referees and I was particularly delighted that Sir Terry Leahy found time to return my call inside 24 hours
from the back of a taxi – testament to Rod indeed. The whole process took less than three weeks to get Rod in place, which is phenomenal when you consider the level of meetings that had to be arranged and the compliance and reference checks that needed to be made.

<<  Back to case studies | Download PDF version

Latest Tweets

See more tweets

Burden Dare Survey