Howard Fischer Associates Finds New Board Members for Vesper

May 29, 2019 – Although boards of directors are considered the backbones of organizations, director recruiting has grown markedly more challenging, say recruiters who conduct searches in that area. As a result, companies continue to turn to executive search firms to help find new board members.

Recently, Philadelphia-headquartered executive search firm Howard Fischer Associates (HFA) placed Chuck Swoboda, former CEO of Cree, and Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, as members of the board of directors at Boston-based Vesper, developer of advanced acoustic sensors.

“It is an exciting time at Vesper and also a critical one, and the company recognized the need to extend its leadership with the knowledge and perspective of those who have successfully managed business growth and can share their marketplace knowledge, learnings and best practices,” said Jeff DiSandro, partner at Howard Fischer Associates. “Both Chuck and Hassan have proven their ability to take a company from potential to industry leader, and Vesper will greatly benefit from their guidance and perspectives.”

As former chairman and CEO of Cree, a worldwide manufacturer of LED and semiconductor solutions for wireless and power applications, Mr. Swoboda helped turn a $177 million company into a $1.6 billion global market leader. He has 30 years of experience in technology, semiconductors, industrial, automotive and e-commerce in addition to management expertise in strategy, marketing, manufacturing and intellectual property.

Related: U.S. Boards Seen as Slowly Evolving

Mr. Ahmed has more than 30 years of experience in engineering and management. He currently serves as chairman and CEO of Affirmed Networks, a cloud-native mobile core solution company. Prior to that, he worked as a senior advisor at Charles River Ventures and spent 10 years as CEO of Sonus Networks. Mr. Ahmed is known for growing Sonus from an idea into a publicly traded company focused on enabling the transformation of telephony to IP. Before that, he served as general manager of the Core Switching division of Ascend Communications and vice president of engineering and chief technology officer of Cascade Communications.


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Roughly 50 percent of S&P 500 companies will be replaced in the next 10 years — a reality that reflects a complex landscape of emerging risks, as well as the immense pressure on today’s companies to innovate or be left behind. As investors and market pressures drive organizations to become more digital, more global and more sustainable, boards are finding that today’s discussions necessitate new perspectives and areas of expertise.


“Given their specific expertise in the semiconductor and engineering industries and their extensive experience scaling companies through high-growth periods, Chuck and Hassan exemplify ideal board members to support our growth objectives,” said Matt Crowley, CEO of Vesper. “When we shared with Jeff DiSandro and his team at HFA the particular experience and knowledge we were seeking in the placement of these key members of our leadership team, they were able to quickly identify and present very impressive, relevant candidates, with Chuck and Hassan emerging as the superb executives to fill these positions.”

Seasoned Search Consultants

Howard Fischer Associates specializes in placing key executives in functional areas, including sales, marketing, engineering, research and development, operations, information technology, human resources, business development and finance. The firm has completed senior-level searches for clients that include: Acacia, Affirmed Networks, Airbnb, Aqua America, Blue Apron, BlueJeans Network, Bonobos, Casa Systems, Cloudera, Comcast, Discovery Communications, GitHub, Jefferson Health, Penn Mutual, Pepsi Cola & National Brand Beverages, RentPath, Rue La La, Triumph Group, Twitter and UGI Utilities.

The firm, which also has offices in Silicon Valley, Chicago and Boston, is led by founder and president Howard Fischer. For 35 years, Mr. Fischer has consulted with CEOs, boards of directors and senior executives on the process of identifying, evaluating and attracting leaders.

Mr. DiSandro works from Howard Fischer’s Boston office and focuses on board, CEO and SVP/VP-level searches for technology companies; both established and emerging start-ups backed by top-tier venture capital and private equity firms. His areas of expertise include internet (content, media, mobile and advertising), software/SaaS (application, infrastructure and network), telecommunications (wireless, wireline and cable) and components (optical and semiconductor). Prior to joining Howard Fischer in 2001, Mr. DiSandro served as a partner with Kiradjieff & Goode (K&G), a boutique executive search firm in Boston, where he led senior-level searches for high technology, healthcare, and financial services clients.

Related: 10 Key Findings That Impact Board Performance

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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