Back to all jobs
Executive Ford & Stanley logo

Ford & Stanley Executive

Opportunity Brief: General Manager

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 & Transportation & Digital Industries.

We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed by Unipart Rail on a retained search for General Manager.

Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meetings (Situational Discovery) held between the F&S Search Director, Research Manager and Unipart Rail Executive Leadership Team. This brief is designed to give candidates a deeper insight into the opportunity inherited within the role, the challenges the role presents and provide access to the detail that sits behind the job specification.

Client Opportunity Statement: 

“This is a newly developed role designed to complement the existing structure and set a platform ready for our next level of international growth and drive our global presence.”

“The day-to-day operations are well managed, well organised and this role is not about bringing transformation or turnaround. It’s about taking a good business, team and culture and making it great”.


Client Overview:

Unipart Rail

  • Unipart Rail addresses the challenges of the rail industry across the asset lifecycle by working collaboratively with its partners to deliver technology and supply chain solutions that improve performance, reduce risk and optimise cost.
  • Part of Unipart Group, a global business that brings together manufacturing, logistics and consultancy in a set of products and services, that create imaginative solutions for its customers.
  • They take a holistic approach to rail and work across infrastructure, signalling and rolling stock, working with the full portfolio of rail customers including Operators, ROSCOs, Infrastructure Owners and Contractors.
  • They are a preferred supply partner for many rail customers and a critical part of their supply chain, the service they provide enables them to deliver for their customers and improve the performance of the railway.
  • Unipart Rail have a strong set of principles that underpin their business – covering safety, corporate responsibility, employee engagement, and their unique Unipart Way, you can be confident that you are partnering with a business that has an ethical approach to improving the performance of the world’s railways.


Their Values

  • Safety – You can rest assured we take safety seriously – considering safety is at the heart of everything we do. Ensuring the safety of workers and the general public is our number one priority.
  • Cost – we will work with you to optimise your costs whether it’s new technology or supply chain enhancements and process improvements.
  • Risk – We will help you reduce and mitigate risk – important to ensuring the safety of people, and successful delivery of operational activities.
  • Performance – Improved asset performance, reduced waste, improved operational performance, continually improving processes. All the result of working with us.
  • Corporate Responsibility – We recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility to your business, and we will help you meet your aspirations in the marketplace, the environment, the community and in your workplace. 
  • Digital – Digital technology offers new possibilities. We will support and guide you in implementing radical new digital solutions to improve your performance – delivering Industry 4.0 systems through to condition based maintenance and enhanced customer experience. 
  • Innovation – We hold a long term view for investment in research and development to develop future solutions; delivering added-value innovation in products and services that will transform and sustain your business.


The Opportunity

Main Challenges the role presents:

  • Organisational change, everyone needs to be in unison, working together.
  • Cultural – the business has an excellent culture; it is managing the teams through change that has offered up some challenges.
  • Moving the business from being primarily UK, and penetrating growth within Europe and North America.

 Top three deliverables in 1st year

  • Maintain capabilities within the team, working on and supporting business improvement changes. Ensure that everyone is bought in and embracing the journey.
  • Work with the operational teams to deliver improvements on productivity. Improve Net Sales, Forecast, Growth and EBIT.
  • Innovate to grow the business in line with a planned trajectory of 20% . Create a clear plan to secure more opportunity to deliver products and services with current or new customers. Implementing and improving the clear definition of the growth strategy for the site.


Candidate Essentials:

  • Industrial manufacturing background with exposure to Programme Management or General Management – a candidate who can look at the structure, output and implement changes for continuous improvement and growth.
  • Must have a track record of growing a business through people, new markets and operational excellence (Innovation).
  • Leadership – able to engage, encourage and inspire around change, marginal gains and growth. Engage the heads of business to deliver cross-function improvement.
  • Electronic/Electrical/Technical Engineering bias.
  • An individual with a passion for innovation.
  • Someone who will lead by example, has the ability to roll their sleeves up and empower the workforce.
  • Able to be resilient and persistent – You’ll be taking the business on a journey from good to great, which may not be achieved at the first time of asking.
  • Commercially orientated individual with strong communication skills – able to build relationships and work with key industry stakeholders and ‘manage up’ within the Unipart Group.
  • Ambitious, hungry and driven to make the role their own and take full ownership and accountability.
  • Strong client-facing / engaging personality.


Good to know:

  • Southport site currently is a £14 million turnover site and performing well in line with expectations.
  • Current headcount of circa 110-115 people on site, made up of the manufacturing, finance and customer services teams.
  • With the incumbent in post, Unipart are looking to double the size of the site at Southport with their efforts.
  • The Southport site is Unipart’s Electronic Manufacturing Centre of Excellence, where they test Electronic and Technical products including Train safety systems, Road manufacturing products, vehicle-activated products and signalling for UK Rail.
  • The role reports to the Manufacturing Director.
  • Direct reports of 2-3 Senior Operational Personnel. Indirect reports of up to 6 within the central function.
  • The role is a leadership role and is expected to be present on-site in Southport 5 days a week with the exception of this person being out on the road with clients or suppliers.
  • This is a newly developed role within the organisation, a growth role to complement and underpin the growth ambitions of the site and will support the manufacturing director who is spread very thin across several sites.
  • The day-to-day operations are well managed, well organised and this role is not about bringing transformation or turnaround. It’s about taking a good business and taking it forward to a great business.



  • Base Salary Banding: Low of £75k, Mid of £80k and top end of £85k (for exceptional candidates)
  • Annual Salary Reviews
  • Annual Car Allowance of £5,784
  • Private Healthcare for family
  • 4 x salary life insurance
  • Sick Pay
  • 25 days Holiday + 8 Statutory
  • 3% & 5% Pension contributions

(There is no contracted bonus with this position)


Likely Job Titles:

General Manager, Head of Operations, Senior Operations Manager, Senior Project Manager, Programme Manager, Project Engineering Manager, Electrical Engineering Manager.


Executive Search Delivery Team:

  • Emma Barlow – Senior Research Associate
  • Oliver Nunn – Research Manager
  • Dan Taylor – Search Director


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 exclusivity or retained agreements with forward thinking and proactive Rail 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 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 Global Rail 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: Southport
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£75000 - £85000