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Ford & Stanley Executive

Opportunity Brief: Head of Sales – Railway Infrastructure (US & North America)

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

We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed by Unipart Rail on a retained international search for a Head of Sales specialising in US & Canadian Railway Infrastructure.

Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meeting (Situational Discovery) held between the F&S Search Director, Business Manager of F&S Executive Search & the MD of Unipart US & North America. 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.

Challenges expected within the first 12 months include:

  1. With this being a new venture in the US & North America for Unipart Rail, it is imperative that we appoint a candidate in post that is able to hit the ground running and back themselves to provide quick results both short term and mid term. We do not need a strategic, long-burn approach to the sales activities.
  2. We are taking a proven UK and European products / disruptive tech into the US & North American market of which there is certainly a niche – we need to raise awareness of the solutions, translate and educate to a new audience/buyers.
  3. It is a new venture business that is well backed by a billion-pound group that offers medium risk but high reward. Opportunity for the right candidate at a very early phase in the venture the prospect of being the successor to the MD in 3-5 years’ time. As such soft skills and attitude are equally important as hard skills and experience.

Role Overview:

Main Purpose of the Role

Achieve planned sales from the target customers in Canada and USA. The main purpose is to develop new business worth c$5m pa by value and sell across the Plant and Machinery Proposition.

Management Of People & Advisory

The role has no direct reports. The role sits within a structure of other Managers with the primary skills of business development and negotiation within an international context.  The key skill within the role is Unipart Rail’s product and proposition knowledge and the structure of being able to identify, develop, and close opportunities; ensuring this is communicated and managed internally so that the services are delivered.

Key Relationships

The role works closely with a number of other functions including the Plant and Machinery team, UK Sales and Business Development Functions, and the North American Sales and Business Development functions. The key relationships internally are focused on ensuring the business has one approach to external clients, and that Global and Key accounts are managed at all levels including maintenance of the CRM system and appropriate internal reporting packs. The role also has to work within the procurement, engineering, and bid functions, to ensure that when propositions are created, support is in place to ensure that these propositions can be delivered. The incumbent will develop relationships with the relevant international trade bodies such as NRC and AREMA and a key part of the role will be attendance at international trade shows, exhibitions, and networking events to foster leads in a targeted manner.

Freedom To Act & Direction Received

The key to the role is that there is a good understanding of the products and propositions that make up the Plant and Machinery offering.  The role is majority proactive, and the incumbent should have a clear view of roles/responsibilities (including meeting activity, scheduled bids, deadlines, submissions, etc.); therefore, there is little reactivity other than where customers require last-minute meetings or reviews.

Spread Of Skills & Analysis Required

There is an overall strategy that is set for the specific regions that the role will cover.  Within this strategy, this clearly highlights target customers, markets, and regions.  There is an expectation of how customers and potential opportunities are managed and followed up and the incumbent is required to follow the process of seeking opportunities through networking, PQQs, ITTs.

Pressure & Working Environment

The role is covering international territories and the expectation is of international travel and unsociable working times/hours covering more than 50% of the role. 

Experience & Proven Ability Required

The incumbent is required to have a minimum of 5 years sales and business development experience within the Rail/Engineering sector, preferably in the Maintenance of PWay sectors. The role requires interaction and communication across a wide spectrum of countries/nationalities and as such, the role requires the experience of cultural agility and knowledge.

Duties & Key Responsibilities

  • Achieve sales and margin budgets – 70% of role.
  • Achieve PDM deliverables – 10% of role.
  • Develop a sale pipeline of opportunities – 20% of role.

Role and Responsibilities (Other)

  • Produce a regular sales and margin forecast.
  • Identify and pursue leads and convert to profitable sales.
  • Manage client relationships.
  • Establish new relationships with target clients.
  • Support the implementation of the development strategy with the General Manager of Plant & Machinery.
  • Accurately maintain the CRM database.
  • Attend and participate in exhibitions and conferences.
  • Lead and manage in-territory teams (where applicable).
  • Promote case studies.
  • Submitting professional bids.
  • Negotiate contract renewals.
  • Produce monthly reports, as required.
  • Align policies and processes to Unipart Way principles, tools and systems.
  • Attend and contribute to weekly comm cell.
  • Attend and contribute to monthly PDM review.
  • Raise personal digital quotient.
  • Health and safety.

About Unipart Rail US/NA & Westcode:

Westcode US

Unipart Rail:

Candidate Essentials:

Hard Skills

Black book, network within the US / NA Rail industries. Particularly within any of the following yellow plant, signalling, trackside tech and general infrastructure. May also consider those not from Rail but  plant hire businesses that sell into Rail businesses.

Ability to work to a high degree of autonomy and strong communicator / reporting / managing upward.

Highly Mobile – The candidate will need to be able to travel across the US & Canada but predominantly north east US and South East Canada.

A general technical knowledge / understanding in a similar product or services

A candidate that has ambition and the long term potential to manage and direct the business after a few years of delivering growth. A natural successor to the MD.

Strong commercial savvy, track record of closing deals

A candidate that is not daunted by the prospect of working with the MD and UK counterparts at a strategic level ground up development of a US/NA capability.

Back themselves to deliver quick results, we are not looking for a strategic, long burn conversion of opportunity. High energy, high pace.

Desirables include: Knowledge of signal replacement / track replacement and OR understanding of large plant equipment hire.  

Soft Skills:

Ability to work with a high degree of autonomy and self-motivation

Strong communicator / collaborator

Ability to communicate at all levels

Customer / Client Relationship Driven, persuasive, charismatic.

There are no line management responsibilities with this role – therefore management experience not essential, however good leadership skills and experience are.

Good to know…

  • Role reports to the U.S & North American MD who has relocated from Unipart Rail (UK) to Ontario to head up and deliver the strategy/ambition. UK Plant Director who is responsible for the global plant sales function, 
  • The position will sit on the US business westcode payroll.
  • Currently Unipart Rail has a small presence in North America after acquiring the rail business Westcode which is circa 20 people strong. As MD, one the challenges is implementing ‘the Unipart Way’ post-acquisition. Westcode currently has a VP of Sales and Unipart Rail have a Sales Manager based in Canada and a Sales Manager based in Australia.
  • Westcode has a main office based out of South Philadelphia and a manufacturing site in Binghampton, NY State.
  • There are no line management responsibilities required in this role currently.
  • We may consider Ex-pats, but it is likely this person will be an American or Canadian.
  • Ford & Stanley Executive Search have been retained on the end to end search assignment process and will be managing all direct and indirect interest on behalf of Unipart Rail. 


  • Salary Brackets – Low $110k/ Mid $130k / Top end $150k for exceptional candidates that meet/exceed all essentials and desirables.
  • Car (Ford F150/RAM 1500 or similar)
  • Performance-related bonus on agreed objectives/sales
  • Pension – 401k
  • Private Healthcare & Dental
  • Life Assurance
  • Annual Leave
  • Annual & Ad hoc Salary Reviews

Likely Job Titles:

Likely current job titles of candidates: Sales Director, Head of Sales, Account Manager, BDM, Sales Manager, Business Development Director, Head of Business Development, Sales Manager.

Working Arrangements & Location:

Westcode has a main office based out of South Philadelphia and a manufacturing site in Binghampton, NY State. Location of the role can be flexible; but due to the location of the site and customer sites, we are ideally looking for a candidate that lives in the Toronto, NY State, Buffalo or Philadelphia ‘area’ and of whom can have a physical presence on-site at least once a week.

Executive Search Delivery Team:

  • Dan Taylor – Search Director (Headhunting, Networking, Client Recommendations/Advisory, Offer Negotiations)
  • Oliver Nunn – Research Manager (Research, Search, Longlisting, Interviews, Candidate Landscape, Data & Market Intel)
  • Cat Lane – 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 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 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: Chadds Ford
    • Date posted:
    • Salary:£110000 - £150000

    This opportunity is being managed by:

    consultant photo

    Tom Norton

    Business Manager