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Ford & Stanley Executive

Opportunity Brief: Head of Commercial – 

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

We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed on a retained search for a Head of Commercial that will be pivotal in ensuring the continued growth and evolution of the business.

Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meeting (Situational Discovery) held between the Business Manager & Research Manager of F&S Executive Search and our client’s COO. 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 Statement:

“We are at a stage in our journey where, due to the volume of current and future pipeline of work, we need to invest and develop in our Commercial function”

“Due to nature of a fast-paced SME, we are seeking a candidate who is happy to switch from being strategic to rolling up their selves and getting stuck in operationally.”

“We are ideally seeking a Commercial Manager or Senior CM ready for a step up in their career to Head of”

The Opportunity

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

  • Whilst the business has an exceptionally strong order book, the cash flow is an area of improvement for the business and this at times restricts our ability to purchase.
  • The incoming Head of Commercial will work to build new relationships across Sales, Operations and Projects. This will involve changing/developing new working practices and managing people who are naturally resistant to change around the initiative.
  • The commercial function is ‘Ok/Good’ and the successful candidate will be tasked with taking the function from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’.

Top deliverables in the 1st year:

  • Collate an agreed and consistent data set for all contracts/project to allow for proper commercial understanding of the business.
  • To have effectively assessed all current and incoming project contracts for strengths and areas for renegotiation.
  • To have built strong relationships with all internal and external stakeholders.

Agreed Hard Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

§  Experience negotiating, assessing, and reviewing contracts complete with providing suggestions and input to the executive leadership team.

§  A track record of pulling together analysis and reports to give an insight into business performance.

§  Capable of building strong stakeholder relations both internally and externally to enable input on commercial decisions.

§  Ability to ‘hold their own’ and confident in presenting to VC Owners, Clients and Colleagues.  

§  Experience of managing a similar commercial function or capability to step up.  

§  Exposure and working understanding to financial information and P&L.

§  Expected that the successful candidate will be an experienced commercial manager ready for a step up in role and responsibility

§  Expected that the successful candidate will come from a heavy manufacturing, overhaul or maintenance industry from any high integrity industry such as Rail,. Off Highway, Automotive, Aerospace.

§  Exposure and working understanding of procurement methodologies.

 Agreed Soft Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

§  A resilient and robust character.   

§  Ability to articulate themselves in a genuine manner

§  Collaborative and strong relationship builder.  

§  Confident and strong interpersonal relationship skills

§  Presentable and articulate.   

Working Arrangements & Location:

Our client currently operates a hybrid 2 days remote 3 days in office, but it is expected that the Head of Commercial will have a regular site presence.

Ford & Stanley Executive Search Interview Process:

  • 1st Stage – Formal Interview. Candidates are assessed on their suitability for the role 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 clients interview process:

  • 1st Stage, Remote competency-based interview.
  • 2nd Stage, Face to Face meeting. Likely to lead by COO & Head of HR (Likely to be onsite and to include a site tour, presentation, and formal interview.

Good to know:

  • A new COO has joined the business with fresh ideas and a track record on how to take a ‘good’ business and make it ‘great’, this is one of a number of hires that will make up his senior leadership team.
  • Role reports to the COO and will be the sole commercial position for the business – you will be able to shape the role to get the best results.
  • Headcount is circa 110 employees which is a mixture of permanent and temporary staff.
  • Turnover of the business is ~£25 million.
  • Although the role isn’t accountable for making all decisions regarding contracts, they are accountable for ensuring that the ELT have the right information at the right time to make informed decisions.
  • Although direct line management isn’t included within the role, it’s important to note that there is an opportunity to ‘mentor’ other team members.
  • This role will form part of the ‘strategical realignment of businesses.’
  • The incoming Head of Commercial will be responsible for reviewing all contracts and giving a ‘Yes or No’ on each.
  • The plan is for this individual to be able to present to the board and advise on commercial decision making.
  • It is pivotal that we continue to instil collaboration across teams (Sales and Ops in particular) to ensure that the business continues to push forwards.
  • A big focus for the incoming Head of Commercial is ensuring that there is sufficient data and management information available.
  • There will be a real focus on building relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Suitable candidate backgrounds include engineering, manufacturing, or project-based environments.
  • Exposure to finance or procurement methodologies would allow the incumbent to have a full understanding of the business operations.
  • The current pipeline of projects with a value of around £90 million.
  • The company has a good culture, but improvements can be made to the speed of delivery, transparency, and flow of information.
  • Looking for someone to improve processes within the commercial function and act as a source of knowledge from the top down on commercial matters across the organisation.
  • An individual is required who understands risk, knows how to manage and mitigate it, and ensures there are no surprises.
  • A calm and level-headed approach will be needed, even in the face of significant problems. This is necessary to instil a sense of control over the processes, trust and security.
  • The right candidate will be the type to not be fazed by the challenges of working within a fast-growing VC-owned SME. Change, turnaround, and transformation are key buzzwords for the type of character required. 

Budget & Benefits:

Low £55,000/ Mid £60,000/ Top end £65,000. (depending on experience)

  • 25 days holiday plus Bank holidays
  • Life Assurance: 4* basic annual salary
  • EAP- Health Assured
  • Buy and sell holiday (5 days)
  • Company shutdown over Christmas
  • Pension: 4.4% EE 6% ER

Likely Job Titles:

Head of Commercial, Commercial Manager, Senior Commercial Manager, Lead Commercial Manager, Principle Commercial Manager.

Executive Search Delivery Team:

  • Oliver Nunn – Research Manager (Headhunting, Networking, Research, Search, Longlisting, Interviews, Data & Market Intel)
  • Tom Norton – Business Manager (Headhunting, Client Recommendations/Advisory, Offer Negotiations)
  • Ralitsa Kuzeva – Executive 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.


    • Job type: Permanent
    • Location: Buckinghamshire
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£55000 - £65000

    This opportunity is being managed by:

    consultant photo

    Oliver Nunn

    Research Manager

    Email oliver.nunn@fordandstanley.com

    Telephone 01332851790