General Manager - Aerospace/ Defence


Brand new to the UK market, our client is a European manufacturer of highly engineered bespoke connectors for use in the Aerospace and Defence sectors. Headquartered in France with subsidiaries in the US and Middle East, they are highly profitable with a leadership culture of entrepreneurial innovation and sustainable growth.


Having made the decision to replace a legacy distribution model with a direct workforce in the UK, they required a highly experienced senior leader from a competitor business to establish the business and develop a growth plan for the territory.


Key to the success of the new model would be the pedigree of the Sales Manager and their in-depth knowledge of the UK mil-aero market.


Their product is a big-ticket item based on the specification of each design and the quality of materials used in the manufacturing process. As such, we needed to avoid ‘commodity’ connector businesses and focus on ‘added-value’ suppliers who sell on technical capability over price. To achieve this, we needed to immerse ourselves in the connector market and really get to grips with the key movers and shakers in the industry. In addition, we would need someone who was capable of establishing a new entity in the UK with no local support, reporting directly to the shareholders in Europe.

Choosing to attend a well-timed trade event at which a number of relevant competitors were exhibiting, we were able to quickly map out the market and highlight which manufacturers sold their product in the same way, at the same level as our client. In addition, Collingwood were able to gain critical market intelligence from a network of senior business leaders in the Aerospace industry that we have developed over the years.

After making a series of confidential approaches, a selection day was organised at the Institute of Directors in London. In-depth face to face assessments were carried out using competency techniques and behavioural questioning. Following this, Collingwood implemented a series of psychological assessments to verify our findings.


After presenting the shortlist to the client, they completed their interviews. We received feedback that all of the four candidates were strong enough to be selected but that the person who demonstrated the strongest drive and commercialism was ultimately to be appointed. We look forward to watching this new business in the UK flourish and to working with the client again in their plan to open up more international subsidiaries.