Managing Director – Oil and Gas Technology


Privately owned, our client has been an innovator of niche technology for the oil and gas (subsea) industry for over 150 years. Based in North West England, the engineering specialist business is an SME which has enjoyed sustained growth, leveraging its global reputation among the offshore community, all due to the unique outcomes their range of products provide to deep sea challenges.

The business challenge

Collingwood was approached by the shareholding board who, nearing retirement age, wanted to appoint a new Managing Director to revitalise and refocus the company and drive profitable sales growth on a structured 5-year plan.

The company has a very stable workforce, had not recruited at a senior level for many years, and were looking for a trusted advisor who could hold their hand through the recruitment process to ensure the sought result was achieved. This was a critical role which had to be recruited right first time.  


Through a consultative process, Collingwood helped the client shape what they needed in a new Managing Director not only in experience but also the culture they wanted to nurture, their behaviours, and leadership style and ultimately what they could deliver for the business.

Due to the size of the business and the skills already employed within the team, it was clear that the next Managing Director had to be an “all-rounder” with a strong engineering, manufacturing and commercial experience. The new role had to lead engineering, innovation and manufacturing as well as develop and drive a proactive sales and marketing strategy. An ability to understand and respond to industry trends were key. They needed someone who had a proven record of success delivering growth for an SME business ideally in the oil and gas industry but combined with bringing benefits of a larger, more structured environment from a medium to large international organisation. This was a very exciting role for someone.


Collingwood’s consultants invested a lot of time with our client’s board of Directors to really understand the company, the role and most importantly their culture. We worked hard to develop an in-depth assignment specification providing detail around the company, its employer branding, the job specification, candidate profile (including behaviours and core competencies) and lastly a recommended remuneration package aimed at enticing the sought individual.

Our client was located in a rural area in North West England which is not a heartland for oil and gas companies. Our strategy was the combination of a very proactive executive search (headhunt) approach, mapping out relevant companies on a UK wide basis supported with a small online advertising-led selection campaign.

The key positive for our headhunt was our ability to generate curiosity about the opportunity our client had created for someone to enjoy real autonomy and empowerment to sail their own ship. We arrived at a candidate longlist consisting of 8 individuals, combining individuals from oil and gas and those from closely related sectors.

We met our client to discuss each individual in detail before agreeing a select longlist that we then interviewed and assessed face-to-face. These interviews involved an in-depth competency and behaviourally focused interviews. Standard to Collingwood, we also provided in-depth management intelligence on their industry, companies in it, perception of their brand, remuneration structures etc…

The client interviewed 5 fully qualified candidates that were presented with detailed interview notes, 3rd party psychometric assessments and our expert opinion based on our 15 years of partnering SME clients with such a key appointment.

Our consultants met our client immediately following their day of interviews to gain their feedback and agree on a plan of action. The main problem we faced was that the client loved all the candidates and found it difficult to make a case to reject any of them.

The recruitment process involved two more stages including another interview with a candidate presentation and a meal for the chosen individual with the board.


It was a protracted process but Collingwood managed regular communication with all parties through to a successful appointment.