RPI Candidate Journey: “It boils down to building relationships on trust”

When hiring senior executives, matching the right skills to the right role is only the first step on a journey to finding the perfect candidate.

Done well, a leadership appointment should have a lasting impact – bringing a business and a candidate together to do great things, over a far longer period than the initial ‘honeymoon’ phase.

We sat down with William Keliehor – former RPI candidate and, 12 years later, still an RPI client – to hear about his journey with RPI and the long-term influence it has had on his role, his business and his team.

So William, how did you first come into contact with RPI?
They actually approached me about 12 years ago, when I was working for a large bank, in regard to a CEO role for a well-known multinational cards and payments company.

And what was your first impression?
Well, it was my first experience of being ‘head-hunted’ and I think, initially, it was only because the role was of such interest that I engaged back. But once I started dealing with the team, understanding their processes and the support they would go on to provide, I began to put more of my trust in them. It was an unconscious change from guard up to guard down.

Once you engaged, what happened next?
I was taken through a very thorough assessment process where RPI got the measure of my suitability, and I got to understand the role in a lot more detail.

Was this a positive experience?
It added some extra steps to the process but looking back now I can see the value of doing it this way because it prepared me for what was to come when I met my future employer. I was taken through the most exhaustive series of assessments I’d ever experienced. They tested my EQ and IQ over 8 hours of testing and then I had to present around a Harvard business review case study!

How do you think the RPI process helped prepare you?
Clients are looking for someone very particular, and as I’ve come to learn, finding good people who can competently fulfil a role, and who fit the culture of the business they’re going into, is one of the hardest things to do. And so the RPI process works to strike the right balance between the client, the role and the candidate – it’s a more in-depth process than just your usual tick box approach.

And when you finally got offered the job, did it meet your expectations?
I really had to hit the ground running. A major 7-year digital transformation project was way over budget and time, no-one was taking ownership and political infighting made me realise just what a challenge I’d let myself in for … and I loved it! It was exactly the sort of test I wanted – and because RPI had supported me throughout the process, intricately detailing the challenges, I went in with my eyes wide open

A good match then?

Why do you think the relationship between yourself and RPI has remained so strong for so long?
Because I’ve worked with people for as long as I have, that’s an easy one to answer, and it boils down to building relationships on trust.

The seniority of the appointment doesn’t matter. What matters is that you feel whoever you’re working with has your best interests front of mind. And from day one, that’s exactly how the RPI team have helped me feel – like a valued individual, and not simply the means to an end.

We need more humanity in business because I think a lot of times people don’t end up in the right relationship.

What’s next for you and RPI?
As I mentioned, I’ve been working with RPI now for 12 years as they’ve continued to support the development of my own teams. And when RPI present me a new candidate it’s always insightful and based on known gaps, and never a hard sell.

So, for as long as they continue to put the needs of myself, my business and the candidates first, I see no reason our relationship will change.


Over the last 20 years RPI has built a leadership network based on trust, expertise and a genuinely consultative approach to executive search. Identifying the blend of skillset, experience and attitude is integral to us presenting the right people for your executive positions. To find out more, contact Rory Ferguson on rjf@rpint.com.