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Ford & Stanley Executive Search are specialists in Executive Interim and Permanent appointments to the UK, US, and Canadian Rail Industries.

We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed by the MD and HR Team of Instrumentel Ltd on a retained search for a Head of Engineering. A highly profitable, high-performing SME Rail Technology business based in Leeds.

Main Purpose of the Role:

Reporting to the Managing Director and working in close partnership with the Sales Director, Technical Director and Operations Manager, the Head of Engineering will be tasked with the quality and timely delivery of several complex projects in addition to promoting innovation/blue sky thinking to develop existing or new products/solutions.

As a leadership role, the Head of Engineering is expected to work shoulder to shoulder with their software team to tackle the issue of on-time delivery, inspire the team on, challenge them to be even better, and recruit/grow and develop the team ready for a big few years of growth ahead.

Client Opportunity Quotes:

“We are praised at every turn for our quality of our products and solutions, where we have fallen short is the on-time delivery, if we can maintain our standards and deliver it on time this will take us onto another level – the new Head of engineering will lead us on this journey from good to great.”

“Our technical teams work with a high degree of autonomy and trust, they are an extremely talented, passionate, and well-engaged team – our Head of Engineering will need to engage on a level therefore it is expected that they themselves are at heart, an engineer.”

“We have the benefit of being a SME tech company light on its feet yet with the backing of a £1bn ownership group who have ambition for us to have all the tools and investment to be successful.”

Candidate Essentials:

  • It is essential the Head of Engineering is first and foremost an Engineer, with a Software engineering background and an understanding of Electronic hardware or Firmware. 
  • Track record of leading (or managing) technical teams.
  • It is likely the successful candidate will come from any heavy tech sector, be it automotive, rail, aerospace, motorsport, tech/software house or similar.
  • Must be degree educated.
  • Live locally to Leeds (ideally within 1.5 hours commute).
  • Have a passion for innovation, blue sky thinking and product development.
  • Demonstrable experience in ensuring on time delivery of projects whilst maintaining the highest level of quality.
  • Strong communicator with engaging leadership style who understands how to get the best out of a team of technical engineers.

Good to know…

  • Business will close out 2022/23 around the £5m in turnover mark.
  • Instrumentel forms 1 of 4 businesses within the UTG (Unipart Technology Group) which in turn is owned by the much larger Unipart Group.
  • Current headcount for Instrumentel is 26 and likely to be around the 30-mark come mid-2023; benefitting from a recently appointed specialist tech recruitment company as a talent partner, to underpin the growth ambitions.
  • Business has developed from a small company doing ‘one off’ projects in one market to several complex projects across several industries, and now includes installing the kit onto various transport.
  • Order book is strong with £1m immediate and £4.5m to deliver in Q1 and Q2.
  • Ambitions in product diversification, innovation, and blue sky thinking – the business has larger ambitions.
  • The role reports into the MD and is supported by a Technical Director, Sales Director and Ops Manager.
  • The role has 6 Software Engineers reporting into it.
  • We are looking for a ‘Leader’ not a ‘Manager’ who can connect with their team on a technical level.
  • The role is both a balanced engineering and operations.
  • The role being a leadership role is expected to be in office at least 3 days per week but full time is preferred. The MD is full time site based. There is some flexibility on offer.
  • Culturally the business is strong, it has a high retention rate, strong internal empowerment and communication, including a team of 26 passionate and technically gifted individuals.
  • The biggest challenge the role will face is taking a very high-quality product and service and ensuring it is delivered on time. There is never any question over the quality, but it is coming at the expense of on time delivery, so one needs to be maintained whilst the other is improved.
  • 2-stage interview process. The first stage is face to face on site in Leeds with the MD and HR. This is likely to be more informal, and discussion-based with questions posed around leadership and technical understanding. Site tour included along with some nosy at the product range.
  • The final stage face to face interview is onsite and more formal,  including others within the leadership team such as the Technical Director and Sales Director. A presentation may be required at final stage.
  • This executive search has been exclusively retained with Ford and Stanley Executive Search who will be managing all direct and indirect interest.


  • £70k – £75k Base Salary
  • Car Allowance (£5,960 per annum)
  • Pension (5% + 3%)
  • Life Assurance
  • Private Healthcare
  • 25 days Holiday + 8 Statutory
  • Sick Pay (Attractive)
  • Annual & Ad hoc Salary Reviews

Likely Job Titles:

Engineering Manager, Head of Engineering, Software Engineering Manager, Engineering Director, Technical Director, Software Project Manager.

Search Director Summary Statement:

Instrumentel Limited was incorporated in 2001 as a venture capital backed spin-out from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Leeds, and has since developed to become a world-leader in the design and manufacture of telemetry systems for extreme and inaccessible environments.

Instrumentel’s condition-based maintenance systems are being increasingly adopted by asset owners, operators and maintainers in the Rail, Automotive, Industrial and Defence sectors.

They are one of Britain’s largest employee-owned companies, with the majority of shares being held by employees. But when the group formed nearly three decades ago, it was ideas rather than size that shaped their fortunes.

Instrumentel became part of an even bigger family when acquired by Unipart Rail in early 2017. The Unipart Group employs thousands of employees worldwide and has an annual turnover of approximately £1bn. It is a leading UK manufacturer, full-service logistics provider and consultant in operational excellence.

The MD and the Group MG have identified a gap between Technical excellence provided by the Technical Director and their fantastic ability to win opportunities via the Sales Director. This gap is maintaining the quality yet ensuring on time delivery coupled with the need to innovate and develop new products and solutions to keep the business pushing forward and growing.

The Head of Software Engineering will ‘have a seat at the table’ and as such will be able to influence business change, work on strategies and lead the business forward. A fantastic opportunity for a Software Engineering Manager to make a step up into Head of. Budget wise, we are realistic in that it is unlikely we will secure an experienced engineering director as such we expect this to be a step up for the successful candidate. We are open minded as to what industry this candidate comes from but must have a demonstrable background in leading technical teams successfully through growth, improvements and positive change,

As a side note, I have been privileged to visit instrumentels HQ 3 times so far in 2023 – each time welcome by someone new – be it one of the software engineers, one of the leadership team or ‘whoever happened to be walking by reception’. No one knew who I was (and why would they) yet welcomed me with a smile, took me through to who I was meeting on the day, made the necessary intros and asked if I needed anything. No one asked them to, its not their job to and they certainly looked busy – so why? A window into the great culture perhaps?

Executive Search Delivery Team:

  • Cat Lane – Executive Assistant
  • 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 global 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: Leeds
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£70000 - £75000

    This opportunity is being managed by:

    consultant photo

    Oliver Nunn

    Research Manager


    Telephone 01332851790