August 3, 2023 – Boutique search firm BarkerGilmore, which specializes in building corporate legal and compliance teams, has assisted in the recruitment of Babatunde Awodiran as the new senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of XPEL, a global provider of protective films and coatings, in San Antonio, TX. The search was led by Stephen Bell, a managing director with the search firm. “Partnering with and learning about Tunde’s impressive climb to becoming a general counsel was a stimulating journey,” said Mr. Bell. “Tunde’s humility and devotion to bettering himself and those around him has led to numerous promotions and opportunities to partner with executive teams and the business. Tunde does not take these opportunities for granted and is focused on helping those around him achieve their goals.”
Mr. Awodiran is responsible for all legal and compliance matters affecting XPEL, including managing the legal function, providing effective advice on company strategies and their implementations, corporate governance and securities law compliance, board and board committee matters, commercial and corporate transactions, ethics, and compliance.
“What impressed me the most about Tunde is his ability and drive to learn new areas of law as well as leadership,” said Mr. Bell. “He was relentless in broadening his skill-set, gaining the trust of executives, and seamlessly moving to new industries and areas of law. His diverse background will be invaluable to the growth-oriented mindset of XPEL.”
Prior to joining XPEL, Mr. Awodiran served as group counsel, securities and corporate law, and assistant corporate secretary for Ashland Inc., a global additives and specialty ingredients company. Before this, Mr. Awodiran served in various legal roles at Caterpillar Inc. for 14 years, most recently as senior corporate counsel, supporting the Industrial Power System Division’s global sales and marketing operations.
Founded in 1997, XPEL is a leading provider of protective films and coatings, including automotive paint protection film, surface protection film, automotive and commercial/residential window films, and ceramic coatings. With a global footprint, a network of trained installers and proprietary DAP software, XPEL says it strives to exceed customer expectations by providing high-quality products, leading customer service, expert technical support and world-class training. XPEL Inc. is publicly traded on Nasdaq under the symbol “XPEL”.
Legal Recruiting Professionals
BarkerGilmore is a boutique firm specializing in executive search and selection in law and compliance. With a network of advisors and recruiters spanning the U.S., BarkerGilmore consistently places talent at leading consumer, energy, financial, healthcare, industrial, and technology companies.
Inside the High Demand for General Counsel Leaders
The legal and compliance market is booming. The number of in-house lawyers and law firm partners with aspirations of becoming a general counsel is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, landing the position is a challenge. Every search has specific criteria established by the executive leadership team and board which must be met. Some of the criteria could include specific industry experience or business knowledge, a background in public company securities and governance, as well as expertise in regulatory, compliance, litigation, M&A, employment/labor law, intellectual property, government relations, leadership, career track record, law firm training, law school ranking, and the list goes on, according to Robert Barker, co-founder and managing partner of BarkerGilmore, which specializes in building corporate legal and compliance teams.
“Keep in mind cultural fit and soft skills which cannot be found on the resume are equally important,” he said. “And diversity can play a major factor in the CEO and board’s final decision. Most are using the general counsel position as a means of adding diversity to the executive leadership team,” he added. The demand for excellence is understandable as the general counsel plays such a critical role. One wrong answer or move during the interview process can lead to immediate disqualification. “Even after an offer is made, any red flag demonstrating a lack of judgment or ethics discovered during the background investigation will lead to a retraction,” said Mr. Barker.
John Gilmore, co-founder and managing partner, has over 30 years of executive search experience. He has developed trusted relationships with general counsel and C-suite leaders across the country. With a profound institutional understanding of how in-house legal and compliance departments function most effectively, Mr. Gilmore has earned a reputation as one of the top executive search consultants for general counsel and chief compliance officer placements.
Robert Barker is co-founder, managing partner, and chair of the industrial practice at BarkerGilmore. He brings over three decades of executive search and international business experience to his clients. Mr. Barker has successfully managed general counsel and chief compliance officer engagements for mid-sized to Fortune 500 companies, including consumer, energy, financial, healthcare & life sciences, industrial, non-profit, technology, and private equity industries. Clients rely on Mr. Barker for advice and counseling both during and after the engagement.
Mr. Bell specializes in recruitment of senior legal and compliance executives. His background in psychology gives him a view on what drives individuals, as well as how to form an effective and successful team. Mr. Bell focuses on highly regulated industries such as life sciences, healthcare, insurance, and financial services. He has placed the U.S. head of operational risk and SVP of risk for a Fortune 100 international banking corporation, the VP of compliance and audit with a national healthcare leader, and the chief compliance officer for an international healthcare services organization.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media