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Opportunity Brief:

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, Technology and General Manufacturing Industries.

We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed by Northern on a retained search for a Head of Engineering Infrastructure & Facilities.

Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meeting (Situational Discovery) held between the Search Director of Ford and Stanley Executive Search, Research Manager of F&S Executive Search and the Engineering Director of Northern. 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:

“Northern is a well-known rail business which is at the heart of keeping the North moving, with a great demand for travel across the major cities for now and the future it is key that we bring in a Head of Engineering Infrastructure to define Engineering’s infrastructure asset strategy for the next 20 years and  to ensure that plan is implemented.

We need someone to be the guiding mind for all Engineering Infrastructure activity, this role will be the key link across the different business units, ensuring that our infrastructure assets are providing a fit for purpose workplace and are developed to meet the demands of tomorrow”

About Northern:

  • Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK.
  • Provide around 2,500 local and regional services every day to more than 500 stations and 3,000km of track across the North of England.
  • In total, 100 million passenger journeys are made on the network each year.
  • Employ more than 7,000 people across the length and breadth of the network.
  • In recent years, they have introduced 100 new trains as part of a £500 million investment in regional rail. In addition, all existing fleet have been fully refurbished including new seats, lights, charging points, CCTV and Wi-Fi.
  • Their aim is to offer customers ‘a better way to go’ with further improvements across the network including the renovation of station facilities, better lighting, upgraded car parks and enhanced CCTV coverage.

Key figures for Northern:

  • 2,500 services daily
  • Over 500 stations served
  • 345 trains, encompassing 11 different types (electric and diesel)
  • 5 Traincare Centers (depots), 7 outstations (mini depots for cleaning, fueling, and minor maintenance), and 31 additional train presentation points
  • 23 crew bases scattered throughout the network
  • A workforce of just over 7,000, including approximately 3,500 drivers and conductors

The Opportunity

Top deliverables in the 1st year:

  • Implementation of ‘proper’ asset management within the business that will allow further coordinated long-term strategy to be implemented.
  • Set a strong team structure and culture that allows team members to play to their strengths and help drive continuous improvement in a complexed organisation that is resistant to change.
  • A coordinated strategy has started to be introduced working with all the different stakeholder departments to drive a unified approach to the overall engineering strategy.

Agreed Hard Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

  • Industrial Services Background within an infrastructure, FM and asset management capacity industries such as Rail, Automotive, Aerospace, Off-Highway, Construction
  • Experience in taking a businesses facilities and infrastructure through large scale change and positive transformation.
  • Proven leadership and management experience / taking teams on a journey of positive change (in addition to building a team)
  • Able to translate the ‘strategic picture’ into business cases and operational deliverables.
  • Willing to travel regularly to various train care centres across the north in addition to spending the first 3-6 months getting to know teams / key personalities at all locations
  • Experienced with managing / investing of large budgets
  • Industrial Services Background within an infrastructure, FM and asset management capacity industries such as Rail, Automotive, Aerospace, Off-Highway, Construction

Agreed Soft Skills for candidates to secure an interview:

  • An individual capable of quickly building relationships with colleagues that may be resistant to change.
  • Able to be ‘firm but fair’ and capable of standing their ground when needed / somewhat dogged determination but in a collaborative manner.
  • Strong, confident communicator.
  • Ability to think at a macro/strategic level not just be a strong do-er (Balance of strategic and implementation)
  • They will have the resilience to implement the change needed but the patience to understand it may not happen straight away.

Good to know:

  • We have access to a comprehensive role profile / job description of which a lot of information is captured to be articulated to candidates.
  • The role will be reporting to the Engineering Director and will form 1 of 7 members of the Engineering Executive Leadership Board. There is currently a seat empty at the decision-making table.
  • The engineering Executive Board is made up of the Engineering Director, Fleet Director, Head of Technical, Head of People Development, Head of Engineering Services, Head of Commercial and this current vacant position.
  • Line management responsibility will be 5 direct reports and 40 indirect reports.
  • Currently there is a lot of positive change underway across Northern’s Railway network with the TransPennine route upgrade (TRU) which is a major, multi-billion-pound programme of railway improvements which will bring better journeys to passengers travelling across the Pennines between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York.
  • This includes a new railway depot based out of Shipley which will be the 1st new depot in two generations for Northern. Due to the size of this project and other initiatives, there are lots of different stakeholders that want to touch the same geography.
  • Currently Northern receives £50m-£60m annually for engineering upgrades and works which is one of the largest TOC improvement/engagement budgets in the country.
  • This role will involve working with the production and rolling stock strategy teams to work define engineering infrastructure asset strategy for the next 20 years, ensuring that it delivers a fit-for-purpose workplace that allows us to deliver on Northern rolling stock strategy.
  • Main internal interfaces: Engineering senior leadership team, Head of TRU, Programme Manager (infrastructure projects), Head of Operational strategy & performance, Director of Strategic Planning, Programme Directorate, procurement, HR and IR team and Finance.
  • Main External Interfaces: Network Rail (this position will own the external relationship with Network Rail), TRU, Suppliers and Business partners, Industry processes and governance arrangements.
  • The role will be the guiding mind for all engineering infrastructure activity, being the key link with production, programme directorate and other Bug Six business plan initiatives, ensuring that the infrastructure assets are providing a fit for purpose workplace to allow Northern to deliver its rolling stock strategy.
  • The role will be accountable for all programme management issues for Engineering Infrastructure programmes and projects and within delegated authority
  • The role will be accountable to ensure that all processes follow the accepted health and safety standards and defined technical standards.
  • Whilst the role is hybrid / flexible it is expected that the successful candidate will want to invest time getting to know key stakeholders, colleagues and personalities at all locations in the early phase of joining the business.
  • Traincare locations are: Newcastle, Leeds, Hull, Manchester and Liverpool
  • Standard working hours at 37 hours per week
  • The role sits under a 6 month notice period

Budget & Benefits:

Low £90,000/ Mid £93,135/ Top end £95,000 (this would require additional sign off)

  • Salary reviews: Annually in January
  • Free Rail Travel on Northern Trains
  • 75% reduction on rail travel on all other TOC travel.
  • Holidays: 25 days + 8 Statutory, 5 additional days can be bought or sold
  • Pension: up to 6% employee up to 11% employer contribution
  • Private Healthcare: BUPA Healthcare Cover
  • 6 month notice period on all senior level roles
  • Company perks scheme

Likely Job Titles:

Head of Engineering, Senior Engineering Manager, Chief Engineer, Engineering Director, Head of infrastructure, Head of Asset Management, Asset Director     

Working Location:

Northern have bases across the North of England and it is expected you will be based out of either Leeds, York or Manchester, with travel required across the route.

Ford & Stanley Interview Process:

1st Stage – Candidate Discovery: An open, conversational and consultative discussion where interested 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, motivations, financial expectations and personal circumstances.

2nd Stage – The ‘shortlist’: Candidates are asked to reflect on the candidate discovery discussion, take time to reflect on the opportunity and undertake subsequent research on the client business reporting back on their thoughts, questions and providing additional specific information on their suitability (if applicable). Final checks of role, package and logistical alignments made.

Northern Railway Interview Process:

  • 1st Stage interview to be remote via Teams with Fleet Director and Head of Engineering People Transformation and/or Head of Engineering Services.
  • Psychometric test will be sent to successful candidates between the 1st and 2nd stage interviews.
  • 2nd Final Stage interview will be a face-to-face interview at one of the Train Care locations and will involve a half-day interview, meeting different stakeholders and leading a session to see how they interact with the teams / lead a peer working group.

F&S Executive Search – Delivery Team:

  • Daniel Taylor – Search Director (Client Recommendations/Advisory, Offer Negotiations, Headhunting, Networking)
  • Oliver Nunn – Research Manager (Client Recommendations/Advisory, Offer Negotiations, Headhunting, Networking, Research, Search, Longlisting, Interviews, Data & Market Intel)
  • 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: Leeds
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£90000 - £95000

    This opportunity is being managed by:

    consultant photo

    Oliver Nunn

    Research Manager

    Email oliver.nunn@fordandstanley.com

    Telephone 01332851790