Operations Director - National Construction Provider
Born out of a strongly branded parent company within construction, Collingwood’s client was formed in 2002. The business now boasts revenues in excess of £120m, employing over 1000 people and manages Repair & Maintenance contracts with over 40 social housing providers.
From the businesses origins, the ethos was very different from typically how the market operated and how they wanted to be perceived. They have retained their family values and added significant value back into the local community.
Summary of Activity
The Position and It's Challenges
Having successfully secured a flagship, multimillion-pound contract in 2016 with a large city council, our client was looking for an individual to take overall direction of the contract, reporting directly into the board.
This person was to lead the GM and 200 directly employed heads underneath. On the Planned & Capital Works side this individual would directly manage two Contracts Managers, each of whom manage £10m portion of the contract, with around 25 direct and 150-200 subcontracted staff underneath. Additionally, 12 commercial staff reported in.
Aside from the hardened skillset required, selecting the right candidate based against the candidates fit with the wider team proved challenging and was a key area for Collingwood to assess against – there was a reason why this client had an extremely strong employer branding and high retention rate. In the words of their HR leader, “at interview stage we reject more candidates than progress against behaviours and fit".
Compounding this, the client did not want to gain interest from direct competitors, instead wishing Collingwood to research from sectors who manage large, complex council contracts. This would prove to be a wide-ranging search to include a vast number of companies.
One of the biggest challenges for this person, and another key area for Collingwood’s Head of Construction, Mark Goldsmith, to assess against was over half the workforce had been tupe’d across from the council. With this came a handful of difficult mid-managers who had disrupted others internally. Firm yet diplomatic leadership skills were required.
The Solution and Result
With the board wishing to steer clear of those from within the industry, Collingwood were to research and approach candidates from numerous backgrounds. Experience of developing a major council awarded contract, managing a large, diverse directly employed workforce, were the key areas to explore.
This opened Mark’s research to include main contractors, waste / recycling management, utilities, telecommunications, rail and leisure operators.
Through the interview process it was clear to Mark that one candidate stood out as the strongest candidate and, ultimately, this proved to be the case. Not only based on her ability to run such a flagship contract, but, personality wise, she clearly would be able to challenge the wider team in terms of improvements at local and national level.
Although not actively looking, the candidate shone during the interview process with the client and was offered the role. Mark had to manage a protracted offer period, due to the offerees current work commitments and childcare arrangements during the summer holidays. After more than six months of regular contact with both candidate and client the new Operations Director started and is making inroads into this important council contract.