Manufacturing Process Manager - Aerospace, Precision Engineering

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The Company

Collingwood's client is one of the largest and most diversified speciality materials and components producers in the world with revenues exceeding $3 billion. Their major markets include aerospace and defence, oil and gas/chemical process industry, electrical energy, medical, automotive, food equipment and appliance, and construction and mining.

A key strategy for this company has been to add value to the materials they supply by introducing manufacturing processes that have historically been done by their customers. This strategy had starting to enjoy success.  Their West Midland's site was starting to invest to ensure they have the manufacturing capabilities to deliver on a major aerospace contract they were expecting to win imminently. 


The Role and Its Challenges

This manufacturer's aerospace client had extremely exacting standards which suppliers had to adhere to. Collingwood's client was well set up abroad to satisfying these demands, but their UK operation was new to the sector. The senior management team in the UK realised this as being the major barrier to getting projects off the ground and winning additional work in aerospace.

This senior team therefore decided to invest in a leader to drive change and improvement across their manufacturing site, from directors down to production operatives.  Working closely with production and quality this newly created position would play a pivotal role in developing, drafting and embedding aerospace manufacturing processes in all departments of the company.  Areas of key focus included applying PFMEA and risk management processes; establishing NADCAP accreditation; driving new product opportunities utilizing APQP techniques, along with creating and managing a new generic continuous improvement program, embedding techniques into the staff via effective training.

An essential facet this person would require was the ability to gain promotion in a relatively short period of time.  Succession planning had been poor and the GM was due to retire in the next five years.

Culturally, this site had a very loyal, largely well respected workforce.  This person would drive considerable change.  However, upon taking the brief, it was clear that the GM and senior managers were wary of this new recruit fitting in with this collaborative, non-ego culture. 


The Solution

Taking the brief from the GM (MD equivalent) and the Head of HR, Collingwood discussed the approach needed to secure such a person. Given the myriad of hardened skills required, it was clear that this was going to be a research heavy headhunt – a positive result was highly unlikely to come from an advertising route.

Understanding the intricate nature of this client's manufacturing process, the need for this person to have a deep understanding of aerospace standards and certification and the need to headhunt locally in the West Midlands, Collingwood researched a list of 41 manufacturers who were likely to have such a person situated locally. Once these companies were agreed with the client, Collingwood researched CI Managers, Senior Process Engineers, Process Engineering Managers and, in smaller businesses, Manufacturing / Production Managers.  This expanded the potential targets to over 80 to approach. 


The Result

Throughout the candidate engagement process clear barriers became apparent. Aside from salary expectations, which varied hugely, Collingwood were finding the mix of skills required were rare. Communicating with the client, Collingwood explained that this was not going to be a deep long list of candidates to choose from, although it looked likely that people would exist. The client accepted this and it helped set expectations towards the “business end” of the process.

On paper Collingwood received interest from a relatively high number of targeted candidates.  However, nine were rejected based on the candidate’s ability to future proof this business through progression.

Collingwood met with five candidates who fitted all these requirements, ultimately leading to the client meeting three at first interview stage. Two were progressed to final meeting stage with the American VP’s, with the preferred candidate being offered and managed through the process by Collingwood.  Impressively, this candidate was only in his mid-20’s, but came with the wealth of relevant experience.  He was picked up via this research heavy, headhunting approach. 


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

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Doug Mcckay

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