Case Study


Leveraging Consultancy Services to Secure an Assistant Sales Director Hire

Learn how GSMA expanded its presence within the US market through Pareto’s expert executive search, talent mapping, and competitor analysis services.

A multinational organisation that discovers and delivers the innovation crucial to businesses within the telecommunications space, The GSMA hosts a range of global events, such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Shanghai, Kigali, and Las Vegas, alongside its well-regarded research consultancy services. Instrumental in advocating for and driving a range of communications innovations, from GPRS to 5G, they bring experts together to evolve the telco landscape, and support the latest industry trends by providing the business insights required for success in an increasingly collaborative and cooperative market.


  • Looking to make their first senior sales hire within the United States
  • Desire to set up a new North American location—but unsure where to begin
  • Sales hires needed to intimately understand client needs within the telecommunications industry


  • Assistant Sales Director in place following an 8-week search, interview, and assessment process
  • Pareto’s research helped to ensure that the location was chosen based on market conditions and talent availability
  • GSMA continues to use Pareto’s data and approach to shape its US hiring strategy
  • Salary benchmarking and conversations with candidates ensure that GSMA provides a competitive EVP

Aiming to Set Up a US Sales Office, GSMA Needed Support

Having previously worked with Pareto to recruit, place, and train their graduate sales talent through a bespoke sales programme, the GSMA had approached Pareto with an issue—eyes set on US expansion, the organisation lacked the personnel necessary to recruit for its business-critical roles. Looking to set up a US office, the business required an Assistant Sales Director to support its growth targets and continue to have a significant impact on the wider telecommunications industry.

A well-respected association within the telco sector, GSMA supports over 1000 mobile operators, businesses, and service providers in associated industries, delivering events that drive business connections across the EU, APAC, Africa, and North America. Alongside this, they are the global administrator of the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), allocating IMEI number ranges to all mobile producers. 

Formed in 1995, the organisation is, in short, at the heart of all things mobile communications—increasingly crucial to the way we conduct business and lead our lives. 

Alongside their industry-defining events, GSMA also provides businesses with advanced research consultancy, offering the resources, data, and tools needed for organisations within the communications ecosystem to collaborate and partner on more impactful projects, driving customer satisfaction.

As a result of this, the business required an AD of sales that was prepared to hit the ground running—and understand the unique agendas, needs, and pain points of organisations throughout the telecommunications industry. 

This was a business-critical hire, poised to drive substantial growth for GSMA and its portfolio of market-leading clients through the sale of events to the US telco industry—with a raft of renowned partner organisations such as Verizon, Amazon Web Services, AT&T, T-Mobile, Telefónica, and Qualcomm—and exhibitors from some of the world’s largest businesses, from Futijsu, Worldpay, Thales, and Dell—expecting solid results.

Assistant sales directors, especially within the telecommunications environment, are typically already in positions with a company—with long-term commission structures in place, particularly if they tender to the public or government sectors.

The Solution

GSMA came to Pareto with a range of locations they planned to open their US office in, from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Atlanta, Georgia. Despite having locations in mind, their roadblock was in connecting with the often-passive candidates at this incredibly senior level within the sales environment. 

As a result, the first course of action was to conduct a thorough range of research on the executive field within the locations GSMA had chosen. This included talent mapping, salary benchmarking and competitor analysis, which would help to identify not only potential candidates for the AD of sales role, but also give GSMA the ability to understand, in real-time, how they could enhance their employee value proposition, and offer the competitive salary range that would entice a senior, sales and commission-focused prospect across to the new role they were aiming to fill. 

Benchmarking was conducted for all office locations, with the organisation eventually settling on Atlanta as the ideal location based on the existing knowledge of—and research conducted by—Pareto’s specialist consultants. Our recruiters went directly to the market, aiming to understand what made the ideal candidate within this space tick. 

As a result of this, GSMA widened their candidate criteria to include not only those with experience in the telecommunications sector, but also those with experience in the events industry. Whilst telco industry experts staffed the organisation, these weren’t necessarily the best choice for a role which would be focused on the selling of events—with Pareto and GSMA agreeing that whilst it’s possible to learn the industry, it was vital that the candidate with the right attitude was hired in the first place. 

Hiring the Right Person for the Role of Assistant Sales Director

Alongside our salary benchmarking and other bespoke consultancy services, we were contracted by GSMA to conduct their recruitment exercise, helping them to discover the ideal sales AD through a laser-focus on culture, the goals that GSMA’s business leaders had for the role, and the problems faced by their customers. 

Our consultants supported the organisation throughout the hiring exercise with a comprehensive candidate process management solution, providing assessment as well as support for final-stage interviews. 

Our research and deep understanding of the talent market meant that we were able to advise GSMA on what candidates within this largely passive market were expecting to entice them into moving employers, which allowed us to discover a candidate with a robust skillset focused on the sale of events. 

Via specialist support, GSMA were able to place a candidate in this mission-critical position, and continue to utilise the talent mapping and competitor analysis data and additional insights provided by Pareto to shape their ongoing US hiring strategy. 

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