”We wanted an experienced, passionate CFO to join us on the journey from a research company to a commercialized, global industry.”

How do you recruit a person that might not even exist? Fast-growing global sustainability expert Ekoligens turned to Finnveden Executive’s Roger Johansson in their search for a CFO with an international track record and an entrepreneurial heart.

Wherever there’s a garment, there’s a coat hanger. In a fashion store, you can count them in thousands. Displaying and maintaining garments at the same time, retail hangers are indispensable for the fashion industry. There’s just one problem: they are made of plastic. Considering that the global fashion industry produces 150 billion garments every year, fossil-based plastic hangers are nothing but a huge environmental problem. Swedish research and innovation company Ekoligens has the vision to solve it. With unmatched access to raw material –the vast Swedish forests – Ekoligens teamed up with the pulp industry to develop the first method to 3D-form cellulose for the retail sector. One of the world’s leading manufacturers of retail hangers, CWS, has thrown its support behind the venture, and Ekoligens’ recyclable, sustainable and patented products are now ready to be launched globally.

Difficult to find

”This meant that we had to scale up our organization to match our international growth journey. We needed a CFO with the qualifications and the passion to join us on the journey from a research company to a commercialized, global industry. When you are upscaling and in a go-to-market situation with rapid commercialization on the agenda, the CFO holds a strategically very important position: building forecasts, identifying financial vulnerabilities and attracting external capital”, explains Richard Björklund, who is deputy board member and part owner of Ekoligens.

”Together with representatives of the board, I had met Roger several times before and he really gained our confidence. He was very honest with us. Our list of requirements was quite extensive and I think that Roger’s first feeling was that this person does not exist, at least that he or she could be very difficult to find.”

Inquisitive and visionary

Ekoligens made it very clear that experience in a global context was an extremely important quality for their future CFO.

”To make it even more complicated, we were not looking for a traditional trustee, but more of an entrepreneurial vein. An inquisitive, visionary person, ready to take deep interest in our business and who wanted to play an important role in Ekoligens’ growth journey.”

The fact that Roger actually managed to find this person is impressive, says Richard Björklund:

He was very professional throughout the process. The board and the company’s management felt involved in every step, his communication was clear and transparent. He understood our business really well, and helped to make our candidate curious about Ekoligens.

A different recruitment model

To Ekoligens’ CEO, Christian Capurso, the recruiting of his new CFO and right hand was the first meeting with Swedish HR culture. As an international businessman, born in Australia, he has worked all over the globe, the past 15 years in Asia. From Christian Capurso’s international perspective, the headhunter delivers first, then gets paid.

”But I decided to put my trust in Roger to do the job and in the end, I am glad I did. There is no doubt that Roger and Finnveden Executive had the capacity to deliver. I appreciated his level of engagement. He was always on the ball, without being too pushy. I also felt that he was very mindful about the candidates, respecting them and not making them wait too long. He and his team had a solid timeline approach and really delivered on time.”

Great opportunities

With a new CFO on board, the Ekoligens team is ready for global expansion, says Richard Björklund.

”We have great opportunities to attract important customers with our sustainable product. The fact that our co-owner, CWS, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of retail hangers opens many doors for us. And of course, it is not just about business. Our product is good for our customers, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for the world. It’s win-win!”