Focus on Manufacturing

I joined in September 2012 as a Senior Consultant in the manufacturing sector. I was promoted a few months ago to principal. So, for me, when I started, manufacturing was a new sector. The candidates were new, interim management was new, so rather than just recruiting finance roles, it was recruiting cross-functional skill sets. So, for me, I had to immerse myself in the interim management pool actually and meet with as many people as possible, meet with as many clients in manufacturing and understand what are the skills that are in most demand, what pressure points are for various different businesses. That just came from lots of meeting people and questioning them and understanding their businesses more as well.

 

I really like meeting the engineers. I think after recruiting finance people for five years it's a very different type of people that I get to meet now. I don't just meet engineers, but in the manufacturing sector there are lots of qualified engineers that may be in a core engineering role but may have started in engineering production and move into general management. I really like the variety of the different types of people and the different skill sets that people have.

 

There are a few challenges for manufacturing businesses that operate out of the UK. At the moment there's a huge skill shortage, so a lack of engineers coming through universities and quite often, the engineers that do qualify have actually gone to the city to work in the city, so that's a key focus for a lot of businesses and just a lack of talent. Government policy as well can have a really negative impact on manufacturing businesses, particularly if it's short-term policy. Manufacturing really needs a long-term, strategic outlook, so a change in government or a change in government policy can have a real detrimental effect. And then for the energy-intensive manufacturing industries, the soaring energy cost is a real issue.

 

Recruiting at this level, when you're meeting with a CEO or you're meeting with a client who wants to hire, quite often the brief isn't about the type of person they want, but more so about the types of issues they have in the business. So, for me, being able to interpret those issues and provide a short list based on who I think can fix it, despite that short list, those interim managers could all be quite different, from different backgrounds, there would be a reason that I think they should meet with the client. So just having that relationship with the client to actually encourage them, this is why I think you should meet this person and then obviously them hiring people so there's quite a few, everybody that hires somebody. And also introducing new businesses to the use of interim managers, particularly in manufacturing there's quite a lot of small, privately owned manufacturing businesses, family owned manufacturing businesses that perhaps aren't experienced in hiring interim managers. So it's always good taking a business or a business owner through that journey as to how an interim manager can be utilized.

 

People sometimes ask me what a typical assignment or client may look like for me, and there just isn't one in manufacturing, which is why I find it so enjoyable. There are lots of sectors within the manufacturing sector, from automotive to components to packaging, whether that be plastics or glass. I say that most of the requirements I've had since I've been here have been around operations, but I use operations in a very very loose way, whether that be from a production manager right up to a chief operations officer, general management, ops director, group operations, the requirements really do vary quite a lot.