dotdigital is a leading online marketing company providing email, marketing automation and customer engagement services to more than 4,000 brands in over 150 countries.
Founded in a London pub in 1999, the business today is listed on AIM with a market capitalisation of c.£275m, 350 employees and 14 offices across the UK, the US, Australia, South Africa, Singapore, Russia, Amsterdam and Poland.
dotdigital’s CEO, Milan Patel, approached Directorbank’s James Searby to appoint two critical roles for the business. Firstly a Chair to complement the skills and experience of the existing Board whilst leading the business through its next stage of growth. Secondly a NED/Chair of Audit Committee to oversee financial reporting, policies and procedures as well as regulatory compliance, internal controls and external auditors.
The Chair position required experience of chairing a listed, international Tech company and a demonstrable track record in leading and driving growth through direct sales, partnerships and M&A activity. Clear experience in corporate governance including board effectiveness and risk management was also essential.
The successful candidate would lead and mentor the Board, harnessing individual talents and helping members to achieve their own objectives through constructive challenge and support. They would review management performance, promote excellent corporate governance and strong relations with shareholders and key financial/commercial contacts. Ultimately they would help shape strategy to steer the business to revenues in excess of £100m whilst retaining profit margins.
The NED role required previous experience as Chair of Audit for a listed business and an exemplary career as a CFO for a listed or PE-backed Tech business with international focus. Proven experience in assisting the Board in devising growth strategy was also important.
With support from researcher Maire McKay, a full mapping exercise was conducted for both roles including referral sourcing, screening calls and in-depth interviews. From a short list of five, Michael O’Leary was successfully appointed to the Chair role and, from a shortlist of four, Liz Richards secured the NED/Chair of Audit position.
Michael O’Leary is an extremely experienced Chair. Most recently he chaired AIM-listed EMIS Group which supplies over half the UK’s doctors with workflow and clinical record software. During his tenure, market capitalisation increased from £150m to £600m. Other relevant non-executive positions include Digital Healthcare and Psion. Michael’s executive career was spent predominantly in international software businesses, either listed or PE-backed, including Misys, Huon Corporation and Marlborough Stirling.
Liz Richards is a highly successful CFO and Chair of Audit with a track record in high growth SMEs with significant software and data offerings. She is currently Audit Committee Chair for LINK Scheme, the UK ATM operator, and Tracsis, an AIM-listed software supplier. Previously Liz was a founding member of CallCredit, a consumer data software business. As its CFO she heavily influenced strategy taking the business from a start up to an international £150m turnover enterprise though organic growth and M&A activity.