Plant Manager, Italy


  • We enabled the client to truly partner with us
  • Multiple strong candidates meant that the client had clear, distinct options for the future development of the Italian subsidiary
  • We made it easy for them by giving them visibility of the market at a very early stage. This led to bespoke approaches which attracted the strongest contacts to the proposition in a way that resonated with their very personal ambition
  • We were mindful of diversity aspirations and, as such, planned our research accordingly
  • We set out a clear schedule of activity so they knew what to expect and when. In this way the client, in turn, could make support literature available in a timely fashion and set out their plans for interviews
  • We mediated and monitored conversations on relocation and salary
  • At each point in the process the client and candidates had knowledgeable support on hand from the consultant, if required, who was fully briefed on current, expected next steps and on any contingencies that might need to be actioned
  • Thanks to strong planning and partnering from the start, this was a relatively smooth process which resulted in a fast-turnaround mandate


This assignment was commissioned by the new EMEA Vice President (VP) of a global $2.5B technology corporation. He had discovered that his Italian subsidiary was somewhat of a ‘Cinderella’ business. It was performing above financial expectations and, whilst its product set was underpinned by older or mainstream technologies, demand for it in the market was growing as clients increasingly required a hybrid response.  Nonetheless, this was formerly a family business which had not fully professionalised in the eyes of global corporate executives.  Also, via employee engagement, it had been noted that a lack of diversity amongst its managerial cohort was viewed as a shortfall by some.

With the founder of the business about to retire, the new VP spotted an opportunity to bring in a local executive, with international experience, who could fully exploit the promise of this business. The circa €15M business was located in north west Italy with its own well-developed go-to-market network. Overall key objectives at that time were quite tactical including revenue growth in key business areas. There was no longer-term strategy. 


Reporting into the VP located in the Netherlands, the leader required needed to be autonomous, a fast learner and someone who could shape a longer-term vision for this subsidiary.

More specifically, it was imperative that this individual was comfortable in a very numbers-driven corporate culture where detail-based accuracy was valued in addition to strategic thinking. Clearly, this person had to be credible in this setting while ensuring the subsidiary maintained its excellent standing locally and amongst its loyal and highly capable employees.


A project plan and schedule was shaped comprising the following stages. Project catch-ups took place periodically with Collingwood advising which parties (hiring manager and HR VP) to include and when:

  • Briefing
  • Company target list – for research purposes
  • Identification of people targets via secondary (online) and primary (direct conversations) sources. Diversity was a consideration here
  • Approaches – highly personalised given the ample research that had taken place
  • Collingwood screening – achievements and likelihood to deliver future success, suitability for role, strengths, cultural fit and interpersonal manner, salary and practical matters
  • Shortlist presentation
  • Client interview process – in parallel with this in-depth conversation and counsel around salary expectations and matters pertaining to relocation
  • Offer process

In short, we conducted a global search of leaders from leading companies with ties to Italy.

Around 58 target contacts were identified after reviewing around 1000 profiles. The resulting four shortlisted candidates (all had been promoted within international companies) were stack ranked against each other and strengths contextualised versus the available market and known internal benchmarks.

After the first interview, one was recognised as head and shoulders above the others. At this point, we returned to the market again to capture others with backgrounds where international leadership had been truly tested. Two were added to the shortlist.

After further interviews it was ascertained that two of these candidates were both worthy of offers and the third female candidate was slightly overqualified and was entered into another talent process at EMEA level. This delighted the VP as there were no female business leaders in EMEA at the client company.

The remaining two candidates gave the client two visions of the future of the Italian business and had four interviews with Collingwood advising on what to expect at each stage. Collingwood guided the client, making them aware of the risks and the benefits of each of these business visions and the personalities driving them.

One was selected and Collingwood then supported the candidate and HR through the offer process. We then maintained contact with the appointee through his resignation process and into joining the business. As a result, we are in talks to deliver a product manager search mandate for the headquarters office.