Global Supply Chain Director, Industrial Automation

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The assignment brief was taken from the Vice President of Operations and VP of HR EMEA. Our client chosen Collingwood Executive Search to deliver the foundation of their new Supply Chain team, starting with the Global Supply Chain Director for Industrial Automation.

The client, a $3bn plus turnover organisation was on the verge of launching its global innovation initiative, and to allow this to be successful, a new approach to the Supply Chain was required. 



The position of Global Supply Chain Director would be new to this organisation. They would also lead a new strategic direction for the supply chain function, which had to compliment and support the movement from a product to a solution focused approach.

The Global Supply Chain Director would need to completely redesign the supply chain process in order to allow for a more reactive product delivery capability. The client was keen to move away from a high inventory model to lean and efficient delivery, while being able to also service their clients within a 24–96-hour window. The client delivers a component focused solution which offers a mix of “off the shelf” and customisable solutions. It was therefore imperative that the Global Supply Chain Director also came from a component driven solution provider.

On top of this the Global Supply Chain Director would need to be able to advise and lead on digitisation of the process, looking at new and innovative ways to engage with the customer. Wherever automation could be applied, this was to be encouraged with the “Amazon Prime” model being used as the comparative example.

It was clear that the successful candidate would be required to manage up within the role and take on the responsibility of guiding the global leadership team. They would be required to standardise processes across multiple business units – all of which were geographically dispersed. 

This client had a very clear and well-defined culture of growth, collaboration and aspiration. The Global Supply Chain Director needed to compliment this and advocate it within their function. 



An important part of this delivery would be understanding the client’s story and the long-term impact of the role. Why is this:

The Story – this was important because there was little to no publicly available information on the transformation that this client was going through. As a result, it would be difficult for a candidate to reconcile the opportunity with the direction the client was travelling in. We took the time to understand this, listen and present back our interpretation and then use this to present the opportunity.

Long Term Impact – this was to be a strategic role. This was not about continuing the status quo, replacing someone who had moved on or making improvements to an existing set up. This was about completely re-evaluating and re-designing the supply chain process today, with a view to changes for mid to long term delivery.  

The client had a clear idea of what the successful outcome would be once someone was in the position, but the process to find this person was undefined. As mentioned, this was a new role to compliment a new strategic direction for this global business.

The client was open about the fact that they did not know if this was something the market could deliver. Because of this, collaboration and regular contact was key, we had to benchmark the market to find out if the profile they required could be available and within the preferred location.

We agreed to carry out some initial research on the competitive landscape enabling us to present benchmark candidates. We also looked at some less obvious organisations who were working on a similar type of solution, component driven and customizable. This competitor analysis allowed us to ensure that we had understood what was required by the client, but it also allowed the client to gain a snapshot of what the market could potentially offer. 



A shortlist of four candidates were presented to the client within five weeks. The feedback from the client and directly to the candidates was that this shortlist was of an exceptionally high quality. And from this shortlist we were told that three could have been made a permanent offer to join the business.

The successful candidate came from a different industry area but importantly had been through a similar process to that which our client was looking to implement. Because we had taken the time to understand the culture of the business, we were also told that the personality fit, aptitude, attitude, aspirations, and outlook were all perfectly aligned with the team.

The candidate had dealt with the various international aspects of supply chain delivery, they had worked with similar countries to source components.

Our client was looking to overhaul their supply chain model, therefore experience of working closely with sales and operational planning was key – our candidate not only worked closely with, but also managed sales and operational planning as part of their remit. They had worked on greenfield sites, built procedures from scratch– supplier channels, S&OP, partner selection programs – leading to an improvement from 50-60% to 90% on-time delivery. All of which were high priorities for an organization that needed to change its delivery capability, they understood and had delivered on this challenge. 


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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