Timing is Key to Taking Talent to the Next Level

Category-busting protein products case study showing a couple shopping for healthy, protein products


One of the critical success factors in natural products is the quality of leadership talent, which includes brand marketing, e-commerce and insights teams. With the explosion of growth in the natural products industry there is a premium on talent, especially for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brand and marketing professionals who have the rare combination of classical training and entrepreneurial spirit that will take a fast-growing brand to the next level. This theme is constantly reinforced in O’Connell Group’s daily conversations with leaders and investors across categories such as food, beverage, beauty, supplements, fitness and more.

Top CPG companies and private equity firms are investing strategically in natural products, and their visibility in this segment has been growing rapidly. In this fast-paced environment, the time-tested benefit of a strong professional network pays dividends for everyone concerned. Networking with former colleagues, candidates and clients sparks new opportunities to connect with CPG superstars who are excelling in their current roles, but not actively looking for a new job. They have the potential to lead in the natural products segment, but are flying below the radar in their quest for the next great opportunity.

Given O’Connell Group’s years of work and extensive network in CPG, events such as the Natural Products Expos (NPE) have come to feel like a class reunion for their team. Such was the case when Kris Holmes, Principal, reconnected at NPE West with the newly hired CEO of one of the industry’s fastest growing nutritional food companies. He was on a mission to reinvigorate the company’s culture and build their capabilities to achieve scale for their top-selling products, while also focusing on consumer insights and innovation to bring new products to market. Along with the Chief Marketing officer, he was committed to developing the people, team and organization to achieve the company’s strategic objectives.


The timing was just right to optimize O’Connell Group’s depth in CPG marketing. Kris’s longstanding relationship with the CEO was established while working with him to fill key roles in previous top CPG companies. Together with the Chief Marketing Officer, they launched a strategic recruitment program to fill key positions in innovation and brand management. Because of the O’Connell Group team’s years of CPG experience, they were able to quickly identify top professionals with the foundation of superior classical CPG training, as well as the proven ability to be nimble and entrepreneurial as required by this company in transition.


O’Connell Group met the exacting requirements for developing a collaborative and results-oriented team by recruiting top-performers to fill the roles of Senior Director of Innovation, Senior Brand Manager and two Brand Managers. The team has introduced innovative, category-busting new products, while maintaining their leadership position in the protein bar category.