Finance Business Partner

Finance Business Partner

Providing a hybrid interim to work across finance and the business

Our client – a major UK based plant and site equipment provider – had identified the need to engage an interim to help them develop more effective financial control systems and identify areas where savings could be made to improve margins and provide funds for growth. The role was more of a hybrid role than a typical finance position as it involved working closely with the business to identify where there were issues with the accounts, to improve the accuracy of the figures and determine where funds could be released to help finance growth plans.

Wickland Westcott was able to identify an interim with a track record of carrying out similar roles with other organisations and who had, along with a strong finance background, excellent communication and stakeholder management skills. The interim also had the ability to work on a consulting basis to get to the nub of the key issues and propose innovative solutions to improve financial performance.

The interim has proved to be such a worthwhile addition to the team that they have now been offered a permanent position.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Chief Technology Officer

Chief Technology Officer

Converting an Interim to a Permanent Member of Staff

Our client, a global healthcare knowledge provider and publisher was looking to recruit a permanent Chief Technology Officer but was having problems identifying a suitable candidate. As the incumbent CTO was due to leave imminently, the HR Director asked Wickland Westcott if we could provide an interim for 3-6 months whilst they carried out a new recruitment campaign.

The role was a difficult one to fill, requiring knowledge of specific technologies and applications, as well as strong management experience and the ability to operate as an advocate for the effective use of technology throughout the business (which had traditionally been reluctant to fully embrace the benefits of technology). Wickland Westcott identified three short-list candidates, focusing equally on their technology experience and on their stakeholder management, leadership and communication skills.

One of the interims was offered, accepted and started the next week. After only a few weeks in the role, the CEO and HR Director met with the interim and – as the interim was a stronger CTO than any of the permanent candidates they had seen – they offered the interim the permanent position, which the interim accepted.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Chief Information Officer

Chief Information Officer

Reacting to an urgent requirement

Our client, a trade union and professional association based in central London, was looking for an interim Chief Information Officer on a short-term basis to cover for the absence of the permanent CIO due to illness. The role was to manage the support team, which was critical to ensure ongoing service delivery, and the development team, which was running a number of important new projects.

As well as needing an experienced interim to start immediately, the key challenge was that the client was only able to offer a contract on a three day per week basis and the assignment was short term (between four and eight weeks). Despite this, Wickland Westcott was able to identify two experienced interims within 24 hours, one of whom was interviewed, offered and started the following week. Along with excellent technical experience, the interim was a strong leader who could act as an effective figurehead whilst the permanent CIO was off work.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Procurement Recruitment Project

Procurement Recruitment Project

This company, part of a global aerospace group, designs, develops and manufactures a range of premium engineered solutions on behalf of high profile, long haul airlines via aircraft OEMs. The business is going through significant change with increased emphasis on operational excellence and lean supply chain improvements, requiring an uplift in the overall capability of the operations team.

Wickland Westcott was retained to fill roles at various levels in the purchasing function across operational, strategic and NPI/project buying. This was a high-volume project requiring candidates with contrasting backgrounds gained in programme-led manufacturing businesses with a strong NPI bias. The assignment, which was delivered via a dedicated Wickland Westcott project team, focused on the identification, selection and assessment of high calibre procurement professionals with a strong track record of commercial achievement and the ability to deliver change and transformation in a well-established and highly operational environment.

The project involved sourcing candidates via multiple channels including targeted search, advertising and candidate database mining, leading to longlists for each job type/level. Candidates were assessed via a structured competency-based interview supplemented by personality profiling, undertaken using Credo. The Wickland Westcott team maintained regular contact with the client hiring team through a series of pre-arranged calls and meetings, ensuring a high level of alignment throughout. Overall, the assignment resulted in several key appointments, helping promote the calibre, profile and credibility of the company’s purchasing team with customers, suppliers and other internal stakeholders.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Regional Lean Champion – Europe

Regional Lean Champion – Europe

This US-listed holding Group owns a portfolio of companies manufacturing diversified industrial products via operations worldwide. The business has an overarching approach to the growth and development of group companies, underpinned by well-established operational excellence programmes delivered via a cadre of Lean Champions. The brief here was to find a lean expert based in Germany to nurture a culture of continuous improvement across subsidiaries in Europe based on the company’s recognised philosophy.

The search focused on the identification of lean specialists and experienced manufacturing professionals across a range of different sectors in Germany. The ability to build relationships and establish credibility with a diverse range of stakeholders was essential along with an extensive track record gained by coaching others and/or facilitating Kaizen events in an international environment. The desire to contribute to the overall Group lean strategy was also pre-requisite, requiring regular interaction with colleagues in the US.

We successfully delivered a shortlist of four candidates including a practitioner trained with Porsche Consulting, Lean Specialists with experience gained in tier 1 automotive and building product environments and an experienced Plant Manager with a strong lean bias. Ultimately, the appointed candidate brought a strong blend of operational leadership and specialist lean experience gained with a progressive multinational manufacturing group. In addition to a strong technical pedigree, he offered a well-rounded skillset including the ability to see issues and opportunities from multiple perspectives.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Group HR Director

Group HR Director

A market leader in its field, this independently-owned merchanting business supplies a wide range of products to the trade and general public via a growing portfolio of depots. The company, which has a strong set of values in terms of its people and customers, was seeking an experienced HR Director to join the Executive Leadership Team.

The brief here was to source experienced HR leaders to shape and deliver a modern, progressive HR strategy aligned to ambitious growth plans. The emphasis of the role was on building the company’s reputation as an ‘employer of choice’ whilst implementing HR programmes in an operational multi-site environment with an emphasis on continuous improvement, high performance and employee engagement.

The search focused on the identification of professionally-qualified senior HR leaders with a strong generalist background gained in similar service-led environment. The appointed candidate came with a wealth of senior retail sector HR experience and demonstrated the necessary ability to contribute at a strategic level with the executive team whilst engaging across the wider business, implementing change and making things happen from an operational perspective.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Site Operations Director

Site Operations Director

This company manufacturers a wide range of innovative, brand-enhancing packaging solutions on behalf of a significant stable of luxury brand owners globally. The business, which is part of a large US conglomerate, has a growing portfolio of manufacturing sites and distribution hubs in key territories worldwide. Our brief was to source and select a high calibre senior operations leader to shape the future of an established plant in Scotland in line with future business plans.

The search focused on the identification of candidates with a strong manufacturing pedigree gained in a similar technically-differentiated product environment. Whilst the ability to lead and manage change along with a track record of performance improvement was essential, we were also particularly keen to unearth candidates with a strong commercial outlook. Therefore, experience gained supporting growth, working with commercial teams and directly with customers to leverage new income streams and revenue-generating opportunities was also highly desirable.

The search yielded a strong but varied shortlist including relevant candidates working in specialty packaging, branded FMCG and medical device manufacturing, all of whom met the fundamental requirements. The successful candidate brought a great balance of big and small company experience in contrasting markets, offering breadth and a fully rounded perspective. In additional to excellent technical and commercial credentials, the successful candidate possesses a modern leadership profile and the potential to contribute to the development of the site whilst adding value to the wider business.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


UK&I Managing Director

UK&I Managing Director

This PE-backed international Group is a leading manufacturer of branded consumer durables, supplying the trade and general public via multiple channels. Following the introduction of a new CEO and a revised group strategy, we were engaged to find a high calibre MD for the UK&I business.

The brief was to source candidates who could drive growth in the local market in a complex multi-channel environment whilst contributing at a European-level as an integral member of the Executive Leadership Team. Beyond this, the requirement was for commercially-biased MDs with a track record of growth/transformation and the ability to inject fresh thinking and innovation into an established market.

The search focused on the identification of relevant candidates with strong general management credentials in a range of sectors including branded fmcg, consumer durables and building products. Ultimately, the assignment, which involved input from the new CEO along with NEDs and representatives from the PE investor, resulted in the appointment of a high calibre candidate with relevant experience gained with both large corporate and SME businesses.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


Plant Manager

Plant Manager

This company is an international leader in its field, producing one of the sector’s widest ranges of private label food products for customers in more than 100 countries. In the UK the business supplies the retail, out-of-home and food service sector with an array of items manufactured at various sites across the country. As part of its growth strategy the business is investing heavily in the development of its local supply chain including creating a fully automated, Greenfield factory in the Midlands.

We were retained to recruit a Plant Manager to shape the new factory, co-ordinating the installation and commissioning of equipment and transferring products from other sites whilst building the team and embedding best-in-class practices. The brief, therefore, was to source candidates with senior leadership experience gained in a similarly sophisticated asset-intensive fmcg manufacturing environment. As a result, the search was heavily biased towards people working for comparable manufacturers of food, drinks and other consumer products.

The assignment yielded a high quality shortlist including candidates from a number of well-known brand owners demonstrating a good understanding of the leadership challenges associated with working in a highly automated, continuous process environment. The search resulted in the appointment of a particularly strong candidate with site management experience gained internationally with a number of blue-chip food manufacturers.

Wickland Westcott have adopted the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms which, amongst other things, sets a minimum expectation level for gender diversity for each search assignment.


How do you manage the rebel in the team?

How do you manage the rebel in the team?

By Louise Earle

In a separate blog post (The Trend to Recruit Disrupters) I cautioned around hiring the right kind of disruptor when you are seeking a change agent, favouring non-conformity instead. That said, once in the team, what are the issues with managing a rebellious individual?

For many leaders who bring a rebel into their organisation, there is some level of conflict that they are seeking. They seek to ruffle some feathers so that simply "doing things as we’ve always done them" ceases to be the easiest option. There are benefits to this, as the status quo becomes less easily preserved. And though there will be conflict, perhaps the rebel is simply bringing to the surface conflict that already exists so that it can be addressed. The downside is that confronting that conflict takes energy and distracts, and the risk lies in how that conflict plays out.

It isn’t easy to be the rebel in the team. Those who are disruptors by their nature bring with them a history of sitting on the outside of groups, be they family, school or friendship groups. They may well be more comfortable and familiar with conflict than most, and this comfort will increase the likelihood of challenge. But that doesn’t mean the role they play is comfortable or easy for them. For those sitting outside of the prevailing norm there is likely to be frustration, exhaustion, isolation and insecurity. I have seen this in a team member with a history of consistently adopting the rebel position, and becoming scapegoated. This had become a default in every group she was in, and despite seeming wilfully antagonistic to others, she found it a painful place to be. Whilst some people carry this experience with them into most aspects of their lives, in others rebellion may be more situational. In the former case, the rebelliousness is likely to be more pervasive and potentially disruptive. In both cases, rebels often express frustrations and challenge on behalf of their team members.

We adopt roles in groups unconsciously, and rebels will often find themselves in the rebel role without being sure how or why, facing negative reactions from colleagues. Whilst colleagues who are less comfortable with challenging may not realise just how much the rebel might be expressing something on their behalf, and carrying their burdens. They may have loaded the gun for the rebel to shoot, so to speak – sometimes with, and sometimes without any awareness. It is important for leaders to remember this when frustrated with a rebel employee.

The benefit of a rebel, if effective rather than disruptive, is that they may well help to combat bias in the team through increasing the level of challenge in team decision-making. I’ve had many colleagues in my career who have the ability to voice those things that are unspoken in a team, and bring challenge, but yet pick their battles carefully and build positive relationships along the way. Wickland Westcott’s Bias-O-Meter highlights a number of biases that teams can fall foul of, and the presence of a rebel can challenge many of them. For example, the status quo bias will not stay unchallenged for long in the presence of someone driven by changing things. In teams where groupthink reigns, challenge may manifest in hidden and passive-aggressive behaviours. In this environment, increased friction may well be worth it for the improvement in team decision-making.

As a leader, you are likely to invest far more time in managing conflict if you are to take advantage of the benefits of the rebel. You will need to back them should the rest of the team try to scapegoat them, however disruptive they’ve been. That is, if you want to keep the team together. Things are more complex if the rebel is also a group leader. For example, in digital transformation leadership roles. The roles of rebel and leader can conflict, and these individuals have to tread a difficult balance between leading and challenging. You will have to watch closely to ensure that their teams are not put under strain by the drive to rebel, and are led to work with, not against, the rest of the organisation.

Our need for team members who can challenge the status quo is set to continue, and the rebel will not lose their appeal any time soon. Rebels can bring positive change, and with careful management, could be the key to overcoming biases in teams.

For a discussion about any aspect of leadership, please contact Louise Earle on 0203 940 6446 or email louise.earle@wickland-westcott.email.


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