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executive search, CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

Confidential search for chief technologist for a major fertilizer producer

A mineral fertilizer plant needed a new chief technologist. The manager who had held the position up to that point knew the production well and had impressive experience at the company, but was not ready to lead modernization projects – a replacement was needed.
Main request
As a result of communication with the client, Kontakt InterSearch Russia consultants identified the competencies of the ideal candidate:

  • in-depth knowledge of nitrogen fertilizer technology;
  • experience in modernizing production facilities or implementing projects to build new plants;
  • leadership skills and experience in managing a team;
  • knowledge of production economics and key metrics of technological efficiency.
The client was not sure that the Russian market had managers with the necessary professional competencies and personality traits. Kontakt InterSearch consultants suggested starting the search with mapping to assess the market of potential candidates.
Project stages

The consultants formed a circle of companies for mapping: nitrogen fertilizer production facilities in Russia and the CIS, international licensors of nitrogen fertilizer plants, and design institutes that conduct design projects when modernizing nitrogen fertilizer production facilities.

Then, Kontakt InterSearch experts identified all chief technologists from the selected companies, met them and their deputies, and assessed their compliance with client requirements and readiness to change jobs. In addition, the consultants conducted a series of interviews with CTOs and engineering/design project managers from design institutes and Russian offices of international licensors.

At this stage, the search was confidential – the consultants did not disclose the client to the candidates. This posed difficulties in some cases, but in general candidates were quite willing to engage in dialogue with consultants because the employees demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the industry and area of expertise.


The results of the mapping contained information about 35 potential candidates. Six of them were recommended to the client for interviews. Kontakt InterSearch consultants carefully prepared each of the candidates for the meeting, telling them in advance about the client and the key tasks of the new position.

Assessment center

As a result of the interviews, the client selected two candidates for the Assessment Center. During the assessment, the client was able to objectively assess the competencies of the candidates, and the candidates, in turn, were able to see the hiring managers in the actual work process. Both candidates performed brilliantly in the evaluation phase.
Key challenges
The customer made an offer to one of the candidates – the chief technologist of the urea plant from Azerbaijan. Negotiations with the finalist proved difficult, primarily because of the candidate's inflated financial expectations. As a result, Kontakt InterSearch consultants were able to negotiate terms that suited both parties. The candidate's compensation package included relocation expenses and an additional bonus tied to key project milestones.

However, the consultants faced another obstacle next: the finalist accepted a counter-offer from his current employer and refused our client's offer.
Problem solution
Thanks to the pool of potential candidates, the consultants were able to avoid starting a new search and disrupting the agreed-upon hiring timeline. The experts suggested that the client return to discussing other candidates from the mapping, understanding that there are no others that meet our requirements in Russia and the CIS.

The customer began negotiations with the second final candidate – the deputy chief development technologist from a Russian urea producer. Despite his lack of managerial experience, he had a broad background in nitrogen fertilizer technology and had been involved in production efficiency development projects, which was a priority for our client. The offer was made and accepted.
A year after the candidate's employment, the company was able to significantly increase its production efficiency. A special merit of the new chief technologist was the launch of production of new grades of fertilizers. Now, the company is one of the leaders in the market of domestic mineral fertilizer producers.