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Ford & Stanley Executive

Opportunity Brief: Chief of Staff

Ford & Stanley Executive Search (Part of the Ford & Stanley Group) are specialists in Executive Interim and Permanent appointments to the UK, European & North American, Rail, General Manufacturing and Digital & Technology Industries.

We have been appointed and entrusted by an award-winning train operating company on the search for a Chief of Staff who will join the team and provide strategic leadership and management support to the organisation. The successful candidate will play a pivotal role in overseeing operations, fostering collaboration, and driving organisational excellence.

Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meeting (Situational Discovery) held between the Senior Research Associate of F&S Executive Search, and the client, the brief is designed to give candidates a deeper insight into the opportunity inherent within the role, the challenges the role presents and provide access to the detail that sits behind the job specification.

Client Opportunity Statement:

“Integral to the continued development of our business we are looking for a focused, collaborative and passionate individual to join our team, this person will be the Managing Directors right hand and support the Executive Board this person will be the “eyes and ears on the ground” to understand what we can do better as a business and implement the strategy to do so!”

The Opportunity

Main challenges that will be encountered in the 1st year:

  • This is a brand-new role within the business and is a ‘lone wolf’ position which will be challenging as there will be a lot of spinning plates this person will have to manage.
  • Currently going through some organisational change within the business, they need a candidate with strong senior management experience to support the strategic changes that will be required and ensure everyone is working in unison, to maintain their strong company culture.
  • Adapting to the ways of working within the Rail Industry and the challenges this brings.

Key deliverables within the 1st year:

  • Support with ensuring the delivery of the National Rail Contract and Business Plan commitments.
  • Support cross-functional and organisation-wide projects and initiatives – ensuring the alignment with Net Zero objectives and develop organisational annual goals to measure progress against the business’s strategic goals.
  • Be the eyes and ears for the MD working with the Executive Board, Stakeholders, ability to be out on route with customers to get a clear understanding of where the business can continuously improve and develop. This will require you to create and update strategic indicators for reviewing performance and progress.

Agreed on Hard Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

  • Ability to manage complexed projects and lead from the front to drive results.
  • Experience of working in an international organisation and a proven ability to work cross-functionally.
  • Degree in Business Administration or similar field, Project Management Qualification desirable.
  • Computer literate, with excellent analytical skills.
  • Experience leading departments and teams through transformational change. 3 years Minimum experience.
  • Stakeholder management experience required, will be required to act as a liaison between senior leadership teams, various departments and major customers including the Department of Transport and Network Rail.
  • Proven experience in organising and directing teams, with a proven experience in a senior leadership role with a track record of strategic planning and execution.
  • Able to foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
  • Desirable: Rail Industry background and Multilingual

Agreed Soft Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

  • Extremely versatile, organised, dedicated and efficient.
  • An ambitious, energetic individual who is confident, with good interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Ability to have fluidity in all they do and can manage multiple spinning plates.
  • Someone who has the ability to articulate themselves well at all levels and can build relationships with the Executive Board and Stakeholders.
  • Dynamic with the ability to roll their sleeves up and challenge when required.

Working Arrangements & Location:

To be based at their Central London HQ, this position offers Hybrid working, however, the role is a leadership role, and therefore the incumbent must be prepared to be in office in London 5 days a week through busy periods or / if when required.

Ford & Stanley Interview Process:

  • 1st Stage – Formal Interview. Candidates are assessed on their suitability for the job in the context of the above and challenged on how the opportunity lines up with their career aspirations.
  • 2nd Stage – The ‘shortlist’. Candidates are asked to reflect on 1st stage, providing evidence and discussion on key points. Package requirements are reiterated and finalised.

Our Client’s Interview Process:

  • 1st Stage interview to be held via teams between the candidate and Managing Director to explore personality fit and career history.
  • 2nd Stage interview will be face-to-face with the Managing Director on-site, alongside introductions to key stakeholders and members of the Executive Board.

Good to know:

  • The business take pride in being an award-winning train operator.
  • Currently a £160 million turnover business, that has recently moved into its new state-of-the-art offices based in Central London.
  • As a Chief of Staff, you will lead the office of the Managing Director and support the Executive Directors (8), working as the MD’s right hand to provide support across the organisation to ensure business alignment and helping in setting out the company’s future strategy.
  • The Chief of Staff will be required to develop organisational annual goals to include Net Zero initiatives and support cross-functional and organisational-wide projects.
  • Required to measure progress against strategic priorities, this will include developing strategic indicators for reviewing performance and progress, to provide timely updates to stakeholders.
  • The Chief of Staff will be required to represent the company with major customers, stakeholders, and the general public, fostering a ‘partnership’ approach to improve the company’s profile across the region.

Budget & Benefits:

Base Salary Banding: Low of £70k, Mid of £75k and top end of £80k (for exceptional candidates).

Supporting benefits:

  • Final salary pension
  • Free travel on the train operating company’s route
  • Discounted rates on National Rail services.
  • 25 days holiday + 8 statutory
  • Private healthcare

Likely Job Titles:

Chief of Staff, Chief Senior Personal Assistant, Chief Business Officer, Chief Business Administrator, Strategic Assistant to Executive Board.

Executive Search Delivery Team:

  • Emma Barlow – Senior Research Associate (Headhunting, Networking, Research, Search, Longlisting, Interviews, Data & Market Intel)
  • Oliver Nunn – Business Manager (Shortlisting, Client Recommendations/Advisory, Offer Negotiations)
  • Ralitsa Kuzeva – Executive Assistant (Diary Management, Coordination, Candidate Experience)

About Ford & Stanley Executive Search:

At Ford & Stanley Executive Search we go beyond a recruiting transaction with our core mission being that of every interaction we have with clients and candidates is best in class. We are select in the opportunities we represent, as such, work under strict exclusive.

and retained search assignments with forward-thinking and proactive global companies that place their trust in our ability to deliver a winning shortlist at the first time of asking.

Our Search Directors (who are themselves members of the F&S Group Board) and our in-house research team invest time at the front end of process with our client’s leadership team or stakeholders to consult, understand the opportunity inherent within the role, business need, map and agree timescales with supporting delivery plan well in advance of conducting the search.

All candidates both active and passive (head-hunted) can expect full and professional engagement from the Executive Search team in addition a timely, thorough and engaging recruitment process from a committed employer that seeks to secure ‘cream of the crop’ from a busy and noisy candidate market.


    • Job type: Permanent
    • Location: Central London
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£70000 - £80000

    This opportunity is being managed by:

    consultant photo

    Emma Barlow

    Senior Research Associate

    Email Emma.barlow@fordandstanley.com