On Thursday evening, it was a real delight to celebrate the thirty-third anniversary of The MBS Group. Joined by clients, candidates, colleagues and friends, we gathered at the Serpentine Gallery in the heart of a very sunny Hyde Park to reflect on the past three decades and commemorate this important milestone. After cancelling our thirtieth celebration due to Covid, it was so wonderful to have everybody in the same room with drinks, canapes, and a superb opening address from Archie Norman, Chair at M&S.
As many will know, but others may not, The MBS Group had humble beginnings. Only a few years after arriving in the UK from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Moira founded MBS at her dining room table: a team of one, with a paper bag full of names and numbers. 33 years on, and we have grown to a 40-strong collective of partners, directors, consultants, associates, researchers and assistants – the biggest, most unified and most informed consumer executive search team in Europe.
We are now proud to advise some of the world’s leading consumer brands and businesses across retail, consumer goods, travel, leisure, hospitality, consumer healthcare, fashion, luxury and digital. While these industries may seem very different on the surface, we know at MBS that what underpins them all is a fundamental passion for the consumer, and a deep understanding of the continually-changing consumer mindset.
In our 33 years in executive search we have placed over 2,000 consumer leaders. Chairs, CEOs, CFOs, non-executive directors – and other roles of critical importance to a business transformation. We have worked in over 50 countries, and have been at the forefront of addressing some of the biggest talent challenges our sectors face: from digitalisation and the sophisticated use of data to cost transformation and putting ESG at the heart of a business.
In the last year alone, we have worked in 22 markets – from the United States to the United Arab Emirates, and from Ireland, The Ivory Coast and Iceland, to Italy. This year we have successfully worked on 24 chief executive appointments, on over 20 CFO, FD or Audit Chair appointments, and on the appointments of more than 25 non-executive director appointments. I think it is safe to say that MBS’s fingerprints are now well and truly over all the consumer sectors.
For both of us, one of the absolute joys of our roles is going on a journey with businesses.
Most recently, MBS has played a central role in M&S’s turnaround journey, and it was a delight to hear Archie reflect on the success of this partnership during his opening remarks on Thursday.
“I don’t know much about much,” he announced, “but I do know about people and about organisations. I know about the benefit of hiring smart people with aptitude, and about giving them the opportunity to make things happen. And that’s where MBS just gets it. Moira, and the whole team at The MBS Group, has been an incredible friend to M&S over the years.”
“I don’t know much about much, but I do know about people and about organisations. I know about the benefit of hiring smart people with aptitude, and about giving them the opportunity to make things happen. And that’s where MBS just gets it. Moira, and the whole team at The MBS Group, has been an incredible friend to M&S over the years.” – Archie Norman, Chair, M&S.
While our consultancy has grown steadily over the years, we both like to think that we have been steadfast in our approach to search. To every assignment, we look to bring a creative edge that will challenge the industry and our clients’ assumptions. In candidates we look for potential, rather than their specific track record of achievement, and assess how they respond to change, adversity, obstacles and opportunities. To us, search is an art, not a science.
Archie also spoke compellingly about our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to championing the leaders of tomorrow. Most readers will know that we are not prepared to stand on the sideline when it comes to D&I. We are committed to driving lasting change in our consumer communities, through holding up a mirror to the leadership teams and D&I strategies of the largest businesses; partnering with industry bodies; examining and sharing best practice; highlighting diverse role models, and supporting mentoring programmes.
Today, we are incredibly proud to dedicate 20% of our time to supporting our industries, either through D&I initiatives or through completing pro-bono and reduced-fee assignments for organisations making a difference in our sectors. In the last year alone, we contributed more than one million pounds through pro-bono or reduced-fee assignments.
“In the last year alone, we were additionally able to contribute over one million pounds through pro-bono or reduced-fee assignments.”
We would like to thank all those clients, candidates, colleagues and confidantes who trust and empower us to address their most critical people challenges. We are hugely grateful to your combined partnership, support and friendship.
Most of all, we’d like to pay tribute to our team at MBS. Every member of the team, past and present, has enriched our consultancy and made it what it is today: the largest, and most creative and most passionate consumer executive search consultancy in Europe. We may be 33 years old as a business, but we feel 33 years young – and we can’t wait to write the next chapter in the MBS story.