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Nielsen-Massey Installs New Board Director & Chair 

Third-generation family business seeks to balance vision with fondness for brand heritage.
NeilsenMassey (1)


A 100-year-old family-owned business, Nielsen-Massey is a vanilla and flavor extract company. The family was looking to add two positions to its Board, a Chair and Director, to accelerate the growth of an artisanal business (with operations reliant on a complex supply chain) while retaining their focus on sustainability and their commitment to the high-end ingredient culinary community. The ideal Chair would be someone who brought an exciting vision and the leadership skills to unify the Board while respecting the family heritage of the company. For the director role, the family wanted to add someone with energizing Marketing expertise. 

candidates sourced
candidates introduced
days to hire


Applying an Immersive Approach to Maximize the Impact 

With family owners actively running the company, the Impactful team recognized that understanding the company dynamic would be integral to the talent strategy. The team immersed themselves into the Nielsen-Massey business to grasp the interplay of operations, culture, history, executive leadership, and the Board. During this crucial Discovery phase, the team spent weeks in reflective conversations about the business, developing trust with the family, who opened up about the company’s strengths and blind spots. The fruitful transparency highlighted how the Board talent additions could make the greatest contributions, helping the Impactful team to home on the essential talent factors, and aligning everyone on the qualification wish list while painstakingly filtering non-negotiable requirements from ‘nice to haves.’ From there, the Impactful team leveraged their network to build dossiers of top talent from the family-owned natural food and ingredient space and discretely marketed the opportunities for the Chair and Director roles.

Identifying Leaders to Round Out the Board and Eliminate Blind Spots

The Board was very strong operationally and financially, but there were gaps that the two roles were to overcome. The Chair would have to be a strong leader who can bring together a Board of family members and outside Directors, unifying them around a shared vision. Additionally, the leader needed to have experience in working through the challenges and rewards of a family-founded business, with a solid understanding of the ingredients sector, and having scaled a company through an exit. Even though a sale or merger was not an end goal for Nielsen-Massey, the Chair needed to bring the acumen and financial aptitude that came with that type of intense experience. It became clear that the Chair candidate needed to be a Chair currently, but also someone who had chaired multiple boards. 

For the Director role, the ideal leader would have to be a strategic Marketer who could help guide the relatively new CEO (who had a Sales background) as they built out an emerging Marketing organization that had been mandated to modernize and attract younger consumers (while maintaining a very loyal older customer base). 

Strategically Source. Systematically Qualify. Proactively Integrate.

The company had never worked with a search firm before and did not have formal procedures for recruiting and hiring Board members. The Impactful team implemented a systematic end-to-end recruiting approach and strategically courted talent within and outside their immediate and extensive food industry network while also closely collaborating with the client to include potential candidates on the family’s radar. Impactful qualified and vetted contenders, especially ones who had not held Board roles (which also meant educating them on the opportunity). The Impactful team created a customized talent scoring system to optimize candidate consideration internally. This tool effectively kept all the stakeholders aligned during interviewing, evaluation, feedback sharing, and candidate comparisons. To proactively set up the potential Board members for success should they be chosen (and to build excitement about the opportunity), Impactful provided leading candidates with pre-integration coaching around the company’s operations, the team dynamic, and role expectations.


Two for two: successful placements achieved

Both positions were placed fortuitously at the same time. The new members quickly established credibility and trust with their Board colleagues and have reinforced a sense of cultural alignment with the founding family. 

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