Patino Associates was engaged by one of the world’s largest auction houses in 2020. After decades of comfortably operating as a duopoly with their direct competitor, the industry faced competitive threats from more assertive entrants including smaller auction houses and large art galleries. As a result, our client sought to hire a Global Head of Communications capable of developing a clear and distinct narrative that both emphasized the long successful history of the company and demonstrated its capabilities to meet the needs of generations of art collectors still to come.
Historically, the company’s communications function had operated regionally and was focused on supporting the calendar of sales and events. Recently, the CEO had decided to decentralize both the communications and marketing functions, putting reporting for the functions into the region Presidents. Given the CEO’s new focus on corporate narrative, there was a great deal of concern about whether to re-centralize and its impact on the regional communications leaders. Patino Associates worked with the client to evaluate multiple structural models, their impact on the business and their impact on the search. Once we advised on the function, we began our research and then went into the market to identify the ideal hire.
The pool of candidates was extremely limited, and it was obvious that this person needed to bring passion and knowledge of the art world in addition to functional expertise. We employed a highly surgical approach to get the right people on the phone to explain the uniqueness of the role. We assessed candidates around building credibility for this “new” function’s credibility internally and experience and working in a disrupted industry. Patino Associates also utilized its network to confer with key industry players to check and ensure strong cultural fit between our candidates and the client. After a few weeks in the market, we presented five candidates we felt met and exceeded expectations. The process moved quickly and the candidate pool narrowed. In the end. the client decided to bring a candidate on as a consultant to start, but quickly hired them full-time.
After we placed the Global Head of Communications, the client reached out again in 2021 as their SVP, Head of Communications, Americas had departed the company. The search needed to be rigorous and quick as the upcoming auction season was approaching. Based on our understanding of the client and the industry, we provided guidance on the reporting structure of the regional communications function and navigated the market rapidly. In just two months, we identified and hired what our client deemed “a game-changer who we expect to be integral in the evolution of the auction world”.