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Ford & Stanley Executive

Opportunity Brief:  Engineering Director

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

We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed by our client, a leading engineering design consultancy on a retained search for an assurance driven Engineering Director who not only has the technical capability to understand complex solutions but also holds the “gravitas” to hold their own in a room of top-level Executive leaders and lead an engineering function from the front.

Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meeting (Situational Discovery) held between the Business Manager of F&S Executive Search, Managing Consultant of F&S Executive Search & the Chief Operating Officer of our client. This 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 Statements:

“Integral to the continuous growth, reputation and capability of our business is the appointment of a hands-on Engineering Director with a strong understanding of assurance. Someone who will be the catalyst in ensuring we have robust engineering processes across the engineering function and ultimately mean we get it right, first time, every time.”

“You will take ownership of a highly capable Engineering team (including a Head of Engineering) who have a strong foundation of knowledge and a knack for innovative solutions but require guidance from a well-seasoned engineering leader to allow them to continue to develop. We view this role as being pivotal in taking our business to the next level and essential to giving confidence to our clients as we continue to grow.”

“It’s vital that our Engineering Director is “business minded” and understands the balance required between innovative solutions and commercial viability. You will be hands on and considered ‘the face’ of our business in a technical capacity, requiring you to have gravitas to consult and articulate technical solutions to business leaders”.

Challenges expected within the first 12 months include:

  • There is a focus on growing process maturity to positively impact financial resource and efficiently further down the line. It will be the ultimate responsibility of the Engineering Director to identify gaps and implement robust processes.
  • There is a genuine opportunity to build upon an extremely strong foundation of knowledge. However, it is expected that there are those that will be resistant to change.
  • The business excel in their innovative thinking and solution finding, at times there needs to be more consideration for the commercial viability required and a state of equilibrium will need to be reached between both.  

Key deliverables within the first 12 months include:

  • Successfully implemented robust and disciplined engineering processes that ensure strong assurance, governance and compliance.
  • To have effectively overseen the delivery of engineering projects to budget and timeline.
  • To have forged strong relationships at a top level with customers and very much be “the face” of the business from an engineering and technical perspective.

Agreed Hard Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

  • Proven track record Developing in-house engineering capability (people, process and tools) and leading outsourced design (necessary to achieve their growth ambitions).
  • Strong experience in material handling solutions (knowledge of associated lifting standards).
  • Strong experience in design and build (essential) and manufacture (desired) within the Electromechanical discipline.
  • The right candidate will have a background / experience in industries such as Nuclear, Defence, Stadia, Aerospace, Rail and a clear understanding of the associated standards.
  • Strong understanding of engineering requirements within assurance, tolerances, checking & approvals and requirements management.
  • Proven track record of operating at this level with the ability to understand complex technical solutions and consider engineering solutions with a commercial mindset.
  • Proven track record of building and implementing robust engineering processes.

Agreed Soft Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

  • An individual capable of quickly building relationships with colleagues that may be resistant to change (Win both hearts and minds).
  • Able to be ‘firm but fair’ capable of standing their ground when needed.
  • Engaging and inspirational personality able to bring teams along a journey of change.
  • Technically gifted but holds the “gravitas” to command / hold their own in a room of Executive leaders and able to consult.
  • Commercially astute complete with a ‘business head’.

Good to know:

  • Our client require a capable Engineering Director to introduce control, governance, assurance and compliance across their engineering team.  
  • The role reports to COO with additional exposure to the CEO.
  • This role has 4 direct reports including the Head of Engineering and 3 Principal Engineers, with dotted lines into 5 Engineering leads through the Head of Engineering.
  • The intention is for the role to take full control of Engineering assurance processes (build this function from its current state), lead senior level engineering representation to the business’ customers and successful project delivery in conjunction with the Head of Engineering/Business Unit Directors.
  • Ultimately, the engineering director will be accountable for the function with a hands-on responsibility surrounding engineering assurance, process implementation, strategy and professional leadership. Similarly, the Head of Engineering will report into the Engineering Director and be directly responsible for the engineering delivery.
  • Identified as a key focus of this role (As the route cause for a number of areas of improvement) it’s important to note that whilst our client do have engineering processes they lack the detail that allow them to be robust and add the value required.
  • As it stands, our client are seeing issues with the quality of their Engineering work (in particular how they manage tolerances and client requirements) and as they grow need to consider the impact of this on their reputation and overall bottom line. They need to focus on getting this right first time.
  • Additionally, as the business has elevated its position in the market, they are finding that they are having additional involvement from the clients at the front end. Ultimately, this means that they have a greater reliance on getting it right first time rather than being able to troubleshoot up until delivery.
  • The headcount of the business is currently circa 130 permanent employees with a further circa 60 contractors/subcontractors.  
  • The business turnover is circa £31m with an ambition to grow this to £45mil by the end of the next financial year.
  • The incoming Engineering Director will need to win the “hearts & minds” of a highly motivated and solutions focused engineering team, who need to better consider engineering governance, robust design reviews and affective management of customer requirements. The team have a positive “can do” attitude.
  • The key to success in this role is balancing engineering control with innovative engineering. Essentially ensuring that whilst many of their projects are at the peak of engineering capability and often ‘first in kind’, they are also commercially viable within the realms of the contract.  
  • Our client require a candidate who has the “gravitas” and “stature” to hold a room of executive leaders and confidently articulate technical solutions to nontechnical people complete with the ability to consult.
  • Notably, the COO views this role as having the biggest potential of taking the business to the next level and is looking for a candidate who can tell the business what they need to elevate their success.
  • Our client are a specialist design, build and manufacturing consultancy. 
  • The business is made up of multiple 3 – 5-year Design and build contracts in the Nuclear, Defence and Stadia sectors.


Low £100,000/ Mid £105,000/ Top end £110,000

Supporting benefits

  • Car Allowance of £7,200 P.A
  • Annual performance related bonus up to 20% (But likely to be paid out at circa 10%)
  • Annual Salary Reviews
  • Westfield Health Cash Plan Level 3
  • 2 x salary life insurance
  • 25 days Holiday + 8 Statutory
  • Holiday purchase scheme
  • 5% Pension matched contributions – Salary Sacrifice Scheme

Likely job Titles:

Head of Engineering, Principal Engineer, Technical, Director, Head of Assurance, Assurance Director, Director of Engineering, Head of Design Engineering, Design Engineering Director

Working Arrangements & Location:

Offices are based in South Yorkshire. There will be an expectancy for the successful candidate to have an onsite presence in the office 4/5 days a week, however the business can be flexible where appropriate.

The interview process:

  • 1st Stage interview to be held via teams or face to face with the COO.
  • 2nd Stage interview will be on site with COO, CEO and potentially one or two further members of the C-Suite.
  • 3rd Stage interview will be an informal coffee/beer to allow for a conversation in a more informal environment (If required).

Executive Search Delivery Team:

  • Tom Norton – Business Manager (Client recommendations/Advisory, negotiations, headhunting and interviewing)
  • Billy Jackson – Managing Consultant (Headhunting, search, research, longlisting, and interviews)
  • Ralitsa Kuzeva – Executive Research Associate (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. Ford & Stanley Group Ltd is committed to a policy of equal opportunities for all opportunity seekers and approach all opportunity with a mindset of who is right for the job irrespective sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief or political beliefs and we place an obligation upon all staff to respect and act in accordance with the policy. We shall adhere to such a policy at all times and will review on an on-going basis all aspects of recruitment to avoid unlawful or undesirable discrimination.

    • Job type: Permanent
    • Location: South Yorkshire
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£100000 - £110000

    This opportunity is being managed by:

    consultant photo

    Billy Jackson

    Managing Consultant


    Telephone 01332 344 443