How we helped a Global Industrial Technology client move to a solutions sales model

We build teams globally for our clients, they trust us and keep coming back to us to deliver, here are some insights in to how we deliver.

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You have set a new global strategy. You are about to launch Innovation Centres from Shanghai to California, 5 in total, with Europe in between. But now you need the leadership talent, sales and technical teams in all of these regions to make the strategy successful.

You have identified where talent shortages are, and you know that you will need to “buy in” that talent. But… you do not have the in-house recruitment expertise to research and map out your competitors and attract talent globally, at speed and volume.

You need a trusted partner to work collaboratively with you. This is how we answered that call and delivered a very successful talent identification and recruitment strategy over the last 2 years. We have successfully helped our client to build very high performing teams through a global pandemic and one of the toughest recruitment environments we have ever seen.

We build teams globally for our clients, they trust us and keep coming back to us to deliver – Board, Senior Management Technical, Sales, Supply Chain, R&D. While each company is unique, what we have learned from our success, and failure, is that we have a blueprint that can work.

Summary of what we did.

  • After collaborating with this client for 14 years, we continued as their key strategic executive search partner to find and attract talent across North America, South America and EMEA
  • Within the space of 12 months we had identified and delivered Leadership, Technical Engineering, Sales, Product Management and Supply Chain Teams – multiple hires across multiple geographically wide regions
  • We developed an employer brand story which we could take to the market
    • We recorded and used video interviews with Leaders and Peers
    • We developed infographics and slide share presentation decks
    • We were able to bring their fantastic culture and career opportunities programme to life in a way that their digital footprint couldn’t
    • We helped to develop a robust interview process that results in a very high success rate when a candidate is appointed. This process also engages and excites candidates very effectively
    • We attracted talent from competitors and from outside of their direct industry
    • We were told by the senior management team that the work we did played a major contribution in them achieving over 40% revenue growth of this $ multi-billion global organisation

With a long successful history as a leader in their field, moving from product to solutions-based delivery is a huge change for any business. But when you have invested heavily in M&A and are a $multi-million stock market listed global organisation, it is absolutely crucial you execute the right strategy. With this strategy mapped out, there was just one key ingredient missing, the right people!

The challenge

One of our clients, in fact the one with which we have had the longest relationship (16 years), has been undergoing a massive change. Over several years, they have been transitioning towards becoming an End-to-End Solution provider in Industrial Automation, Operational Technology and Mission Critical Environments.

This client has had a long and successful history as a leader in their field, during which time their delivery to market has been product focused.  A highly skilled and experienced team have brought industry leading products to their customers consistently for years, the move to solution sales sees a complete turnaround in approach – engage with the customer and innovate a solution. Not just a router, but a full redesign of your factory automation – which begins with selecting the correct router and ends with you improving your OEE, data analysis and cyber protection.

But…how have they got there, or how are they getting there?

First, they began by identifying organisations that they could acquire who would complement and improve upon their product offering. For example.

  • A Cyber OT solution provider, or two
  • A telecommunications network solution provider
  • An industrial automation network solution provider
  • An automation and data collection/analysis solution provider

A common theme here, all solution providers, all well-established organisations who operate at different stages of the customer process, and who compliment the history of our client while taking them forward.

Once the acquisitions are in place and successfully integrated, the next step is organic growth and cultural change. Innovation and Engineering centres – Innovation which offer a fully immersive experience for the customer, developing solutions for the customers. The result, the customer gets to see in real time a bespoke solution working for them, and our client gains invaluable feedback and data to build new products…

Step in the Flagship engineering center which takes these ideas, the market and partner research and customer data and develops this into a concept. A concept to a proof of concept, to testing, approval and release completing the circle from customer contact to solution.

Where do Collingwood come into this?

We are the exclusive executive search recruitment partner and we have been trusted with finding some of the key personnel that our client will need to take the step forward, after all, the most important part of this strategy is having the people in place to execute the strategy.

For example, once the innovation centers are up and running, how do you unite them, build, and execute a strategy, well you need the following roles.

Innovation Director – someone to build a followership internally of all the critical components, Sales, Marketing, Product Business Units – while also acting as the public face to evangelize the good work taking place. Innovation will lead growth, so this person needs to know how to put the strategy in place to scale these solutions.

You have all the data, you’ve conducted all the research, you have validated the findings, how do you “productise” this? For this you will need an.

Engineering Innovation Leader – the technical spark who takes all that data and turns it in to a POC and leads a team of engineers to develop new products

Who is supporting the Engineering Innovation Leader? Who helps them, and the R&D teams to form a complete view of what the market is asking for? This will be the.

Technical Product Manager – this is the person who joins all the dots. They are speaking to customers, partners, the wider market – research groups and attending exhibitions in the search of truth! They will take all of this to inform R&D and lead the product road map, after all you need to build something, the market truly needs.

Alongside the Engineering Innovation Leader, and as you launch your own Cloud Software Solutions you need a peer,

Cloud Software Director – a key appointment for a company that  is moving towards becoming a solution provider. The goal is to be able to scale solutions  and provide a managed service for your customers, you need a platform on which to do this. You need someone who is a technical guru but is also capable of setting the strategy for a $multi-billion, global organisation – they will look to the long term but they still need to be competitive in the here and now. They also need to scale and manage their own team with pace – the product team is working fast to bring solutions to the market, and this new cloud team needs to keep up with that.

We brought our client their rockstar hire from Facebook! This person then set about building their own team quickly;

Senior Embedded Architect – this is the person who will work closely with the cloud and the product teams to build the underlying technology which will allow your cloud platform to deliver. Once again this person will know the technical solution inside out, but they will also view everything with a critical, strategic eye. Leading their team to deliver the crucial mechanics of and industry leading solution.

Java, DevOps and Security Engineers – all in high demand, all with many career options in front of them and all crucial for a team that working to a true Software Development Life Cycle. Again the words scale and pace feature strongly here. DevOps to set the methodology and foster a culture of fail fast and succeed. Java, the programming language of choice and this all needs to be secure at every step of the development journey.

Now. You have engaged with the market and your customers have put in place an RFI – how do you bring to life all this hard work in a cost-effective solution?  You build a team of the industry’s best.

Solutions Account Managers – the subject matter experts in all of the benefits of the solutions that our client is working on, who know the questions to ask and the people to ask them to, and then how to manage the complex sales process efficiently to its conclusion. You’re going to need a lot of these to cope with demand, we will help to find 10 to begin with!

But what if you need some more technical insight in the sales process to drive through the work carried out by the sales team? Then you need to build another industry leading team of.

Solutions Consultants – that rare bread who have all the technical, design and delivery experience, who have got their hands dirty with the product but can also engage on a commercial level with stakeholders to upsell and explain the benefits. Like the Solutions Account Managers they will need plenty of these too, we started with 7.

And what if you need a secret weapon that can engage with your customer base in a different way?

Digital Automation Consultant – the oracle who will tell you things you had never even considered, but you will be glad you learned. The person who can take the customer through the factory journey and at each stage listen to your challenges, advise you on where you can make improvements directing you towards a solution.

  • Better data collection?
  • Better use of that data?
  • Automate a process and save time and waste, OEE?
  • Incorporate more 4.0?
  • Gaps in Cyber Security
  • Better use of IoT

This consultant knows how to package that solution and will guide the customer through that process.

Anything else? Yes!

Bid/Tender Manager – bringing together multiple acquisitions and therefore multiple business units means that there will naturally be different ways of doing things. To be successful a robust and efficient process is required. One that everyone will buy in to. Who decides if that RFI meets the criteria to pass the Go/No Go stage to become a full-blown project? Who is going to understand the needs and capabilities of the business to deliver and set the standards for that delivery?

The Bid/Tender Manager. They are effective at putting in place the change management required to bring people along on this journey. Business Units who previously worked independently to bring their product to market are now a part of a solution model, they need to work in harmony and the Bid Manager sets and over sees those standards.

And finally…for now,

You are going to need to understand down to the final component how quickly and efficiently you can get this solution to market. You look at who does it best, maybe Amazon or Dell, and you find the right person to replicate and enable this delivery model…

Global Supply Chain Director – this is the person who is going to revitalize your supply chain process in order to allow for a more reactive product delivery capability. They will lead the redesign of this and set the long-term strategy.

For each of these positions we have had the privilege of working side by side with our client, regularly in contact with all of the senior decision makers up to EVP. We learn together and we deliver together and can be proud to say that we helped this global $ multi-billion turnover company execute their strategy.

In under 2 years we have helped them to build high performing teams in.

  • Engineering
  • Sales
  • Cloud and Software Development
  • Innovation
  • Marketing
  • Supply Chain

And now that the foundations for each of these areas are in place, we continue to help them to grow these teams.

To find out more about how we at Collingwood Executive Search can help your industrial technology organisation to build high performing teams globally, please contact our Managing Director, Doug Mackay on or 00 44 (0) 1829 732374.

About the author
Doug Mackay
8 min read

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

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