Operations Director – Specialist Aeroplane Manufacturer


Our client was an entrepreneurial business in the ‘start up’ phase based in the East Midlands. Their vision was to utilise cutting edge composite design and technology to build light aircraft to be marketed to the growing sport of Stunt Flying.


The founders of the business, whilst experts in composites and manufacturing light aircraft were unsure of how they would identify and attract the talent the needed both in their senior and design team.


Our challenge was to search for an Operations Director to lead the manufacturing site: from leading the manufacturing and assemble teams, managing the standardisation and authorisation of the product through to liaising with corporate and private customers. The person needed to have an in depth understanding of composites and have had experience of managing a small business, dealing directly with the end customers. They would also need to share some of the entrepreneurial spirit of the owners and be excited about joining a company in such infancy. Another challenge was that the business had set up in a rural location in the East Midlands so it was thought that this person may have to relocate to the area. 


Although a challenging role, we were keen to partner both a start-up business and one that was involved in such an exciting market. Collingwood targeted people in the aviation composite industry looking for those with the personality and academic credentials to take on such a unique role. Initially looking in commutable distance, we had to extend our search to a national one based on background and skills. Travelling around the UK, our consultants interviewed 6 candidates and presented 4 for the client to meet with.


 All 4 candidates had the technical knowledge to complete the remit of the role, with the company being so small it was essential that this person would fit culturally in the other key stakeholders in the company. The company selected a candidate with a record of achievement in composite manufacturing, aerospace accreditation and ambition to add value and growth to the long term goals of the business.