Digital Automation Consultant - Global Industrial Automation

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We undertook an assignment from a global Industrial Automation organisation, they specialise in network communications in mission critical environments. They were undertaking a change in strategy which would see them position themselves as leaders in automated solutions. Now ready to launch this strategy, with the integrations of key Customer Innovation Hubs the next step was to identify the talent required to drive this forward.



They recognised that they had to change the way in which they engaged with their customers. They also had to deliver a different message to the wider market on what they were doing with their customers.

To be successful in this move they needed to attract a different type of profile to the technical delivery team. To do this they created a position which would be unique to them, a Digital Automation Consultant. In order to maximise credibility they wanted to attract talent from specific verticals, bringing in an expert from Materials Handling for example, would increase credibility when engaging with clients across logistics and manufacturing environments.

This person would take the customer through the factory journey and at each stage listen to their challenges, advise them on where you can make improvements directing them towards a solution;

Better data collection?

Better use of that data?

Automate a process and save time and waste, OEE?

Incorporate more 4.0?

Gaps in Cyber Security

Better use of IoT

They should be from a technical background but have either moved in to, or have the aptitude to, engage at a commercial or strategic level with their audience. They will advise their customer on value proposition and become the trusted advisor.

The innovation hubs would provide a crucial tool in customer engagement. A live environment in which the Digital Automation Consultant could demonstrate proof of concepts, products and set up test labs – but a key part of their skill set should be to present and engage to maximise the impact of the innovation resource.

They should be able to think in scale. How to scale solutions with customers and take the implementation from a single site to multiple, from one off engagements to life cycle partners.



The first step in the process was to conduct a thorough brief with the client. It would be important to understand them from them exactly what impact they wanted this hire to have, what should be the outcome once this person had been in place for a set period of time.

This was a new position for the client, taking the time to consult and collaborate would be imperative. Once we had understood the challenge and the desired outcome we could then begin to fill in the gap of what this person should look like. We would start with some benchmark candidates to ensure that we had understood the brief correctly. Once approved we then put together a map of organisations in which this type of profile might exist.

One major challenge for this position was how unique it is. The title does not exist in any other organisation, and for each vertical there would be a slightly different expectation. Approaching target candidates with a unique job title certainly added to the intrigue, but it also added some uncertainty – so we had to be very clear on the application of the role. Understanding from the story from the client was important.

It was also apparent that many of the candidates with the correct profile did not have external consultancy experience. They had been a subject matter expert for their current employer internally. This was likely to have been across multiple locations, but nevertheless within a single organisation. The expectations when stepping in to a customer facing role with multiple accounts would be a completely different challenge.

For us to identify the right candidate a thorough competency based interview would be vital. While the right exposure to the correct type of technical solution would be important, their ability to articulate the value proposition of those technical solutions would be essential to the success of the candidate in this position.



From the list of target organisations we submitted a shortlist of 3 candidates. The successful candidate came from a small consultancy organisation who specialised in. Their background was in industry 4.0 and IIOT solutions, the application of digitally automated solutions in verticals such as life sciences, Mass Transit and health care.

We identified the successful candidate within 2 weeks, during our research phase of the retained search. Because we have an extensive network in the field of industrial automation we were able to very quickly and accurately set up and execute a map of the available competitor market. Because we had taken the time to understand the story behind the position, we were able to target the right type of experience and skills – people who could feasibly deliver in the position of Digital Automation Consultant.

Also because we had taken the time to understand the story behind the role, we were able to bring the opportunity to life when speaking to candidates. We knew the journey the client had been on, what had lead them to look for this type of profile, what this person could expect when they joined the business. What type of projects they would be involved in and what impact they could have on the company strategy.

Being able to answer all of these questions as a part of the introduction process made a huge difference with candidate engagement. We have since gone on to help this client to appoint 5 more candidates across different verticals.


About the author
Doug Mackay
min read

Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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