Director of Sales & Marketing, Infrastructure Systems

The Client

The client, a provider of SCADA and command and control systems, was seeking a sales and marketing director as the managing director, who was leading this function, was preparing for retirement. The technical director would be going into the soon-to-be-vacant managing director position and so a dedicated sales and marketing director was required.

The Challenges 

Ideally, this individual would already have board-level capability, yet have the patience to win the trust of other equity holders in this SME, before moving up to board-level. The timing for this step up had not been formalised so it allowed the client to effectively consider leaders from two groups:

  1. Those with no board-level experience who could step up in time
  2. Those with successful board-level leadership capability

Meanwhile, it was publicly known that this business had been through some financial difficulties. Furthermore, with its long heritage and historically larger revenue and headcount, there was a perception that momentum was lacking. This was far from the truth and we worked purposefully to ensure the strongest in the market perceived the client accurately. That is, with its best in class technologies and recent large contract wins, this was a business that was technologically best in class versus its direct competitors and had a very promising future.

The Solution

We took a ‘four-pronged’ approach and considered our own database, advertised, conducted a LinkedIn campaign and began a research-based headhunt focusing on leaders with local links; for example, those who were living in North Wales and Cheshire but commuting out of the region to work.   

The headhunt approach proved to be particularly fruitful. After extensive internet-based research, we created a list of leaders from the SCADA, buildings systems and security sector. These leaders also had some solid large company leadership experience and were locally based.

Via client and candidate conversations, we identified a raft of career behaviours that helped us understand if a candidate would not only be a strong performer, but also successful in an SME environment. For example, succeeding in owner-manager environments and demonstrating patience yet being very influential. We also ascertained that we were more likely to secure certain capabilities from certain sectors; for example, strong engineering mind-sets were more prevalent in the smart buildings and the SCADA sectors.

The Result

Four weeks after the brief was taken, 130 contacts had shared their CVs after seeing the adverts and the social media campaign. We had also secured an early benchmark candidate via the headhunt and Collingwood interviews had begun.

One month later, we secured a shortlist of four, this included a particularly outstanding local candidate who began the interview process with the client. In this discussion, it became clear that leaders from the aforementioned group two were strongly preferred, whilst still remaining within the salary banding.

With this in mind, and in the spirit of supporting robust decision-making, we continued to search the market to ensure that this stand-out individual was compared with someone equally as strong. A further two candidates were secured within two weeks; however, it became increasingly clear that the preferred candidate was proving to be an excellent fit personally and professionally. He was offered the role.

On joining, the mutually beneficial match became clearer and the company has been able to accelerate its development and it is highly likely that our candidate will move onto the board ahead of the expected time-frame.