Building the Right Team through Transition, Transfers and Transformation

Iconic CPG brand case study showing a group of colleagues working at a shared table


When one of America’s oldest and most iconic food brands embarked on a strategy of transformational acquisition and realignment, it was both exciting and daunting for everyone involved in recruiting and retaining valued team members. With the goal of further diversifying their “center aisle” mainstay brands, their strategic acquisition of leading pet brands created a unique challenge for their marketing and human resources team. They were faced with recruiting and retaining dozens of professionals in multiple business disciplines during a time of transition geographically and culturally.

“Recruiting is both time- and budget-sensitive. So, resources must be used very strategically. In our partnership with O’Connell Group, the value of their network, insight and experience really supported our team in getting further, faster at a critical time.” -– Director, Talent Acquisition, Fortune 400 Food and Beverage Company

The acquisition required them to balance two key goals. Their immediate need was to recruit the right leaders to integrate and bring their strong brand capabilities to a newly acquired and unfamiliar category, in two very different geographies. But the longer-term objective was to consolidate the marketing and consumer insights teams in a single location, which would likely result in attrition and a large number of vacancies.

As the company was in the process of acquiring new categories and revitalizing legacy brands to power growth, they were also revolutionizing their innovation model, creating new cross-functional teams, developing new, agile approaches to consumer insights.

The company’s talent acquisition model had historically revolved around campus recruitment and internal promotion. So, the dynamics of this acquisition and the reality of relocation made it necessary to engage in a “full court press” to successfully execute and achieve their goals in filling key consumer insights, analytics and brand management roles.


To support the success of their in-house recruiters in building high-performance marketing and consumer insights teams during this transformational period, the talent acquisition leaders turned to O’Connell Group. Their track record of delivering top candidates and earning the company’s trust, by working as a partner, provided a level of assurance that O’Connell Group would engage seamlessly as an extension of the internal team.

By placing a high emphasis on proactive communication with the in-house recruiters and line managers, O’Connell Group was able to engage and glean nuggets of insight about the required skills and critical success factors for each position. It was especially important to find the right fit for the company’s innovation-oriented pod organizational structure, which is more interdisciplinary, autonomous and self-governed compared with traditional team hierarchies.

The O’Connell Group team focused on the newly acquired business, and it became mission critical for O’Connell Group to expand the talent pool and reach into their deep consumer packaged goods network to surface leaders at many levels in roles across the country. They applied their skill in assessing a candidate’s motivations and sharing insights about candidate expectations regarding compensation and career growth, which proved to be invaluable to the in-house team.

Based on their experience, the O’Connell group was also able to identify candidates who would contribute to the successful ramp up of the newly acquired brands located on the West Coast, with knowledge that their ultimate destination would be at the Midwest headquarters. Likewise, they found professionals with the right skills to serve as productive leaders throughout the transition, even if they did not relocate.


This recruitment initiative was focused on building a team and succeeded on multiple levels. Foremost, O’Connell Group placed 10 professionals in key consumer marketing, insights and analytics roles in multiple product categories. These teams are both agile and focused on diversifying the portfolio with high-demand products, innovating to become more relevant to younger consumers, and making this stable company an even stronger force in a marketplace that evolves at an ever-faster pace.

Creating a partnership between the in-house recruiters and O’Connell Group unlocked the potential to be more effective and efficient in identifying the right talent for the right roles and teams. As a trusted part of the team, O’Connell Group was able to transparently tap into the line managers’ needs and understand the nuances of fit with a candidate’s capabilities and personality.

Transitions and transformation can be disruptive and distracting, and the full impact of building the right team is often realized months and years in the future. But the in-house recruitment team plans to continue building on the best practices and partnership model that proved successful during a chaotic time. The company has reported a growing innovation pipeline based on their strategies to revitalize their core brands, accelerate innovation and ignite new growth brands.

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