Why some leading manufacturers are reaching out to different sectors to find their new leadership talent……

Published: 13 March 2015

Whether it is a global leader in automotive or technology manufacturing, or the niche SME that is not yet a household name, there are an increasing number of organisations looking outside of their own markets for their leadership talent. Whilst there is nothing new with this trend the manufacturing and engineering markets have seen a dramatic increase in the activity of cross-sector recruitment in recent months. So why is this happening now, and what does it mean for companies and individuals alike?

Confidence and ambition

The return to growth, for many markets and organisations alike, is the real drive behind this change. Companies now have the confidence to change and strengthen their leadership teams, to realise the potential that their markets present. For some, whose ambition is to enter a new market, deliver a step-change in performance, or keep up with advances in technology, one of the answers is to bring in new skills and experience to complement the industry expertise that their current management team possesses

Achieving new standards of performance

To really raise the bar, and achieve world-class standards of performance, some organisations have no choice but to look at attracting candidates from different sectors to their own. Some markets, such as Automotive, FMCG Manufacturing or Pharmaceuticals, for example, are perceived to be world-class in specific activities – be it manufacturing, supply chain, or research and development. High-fliers in these markets, who have been exposed to best-in-class processes and performance, are, not surprisingly, high-up on the target lists of organisations that are aspiring to achieve such high standards. Done well, recruiting a high-calibre individual from such a market can have a very positive effect on a business:

  • Adding to the ‘gene pool’ of a leadership team makes it stronger, more adaptive and resilient, and sends a clear statement of intent to its employees that the company wants to move forward.
  • Different experience brings different solutions; whether the individual is on the executive board or part of the senior management team, bringing a new approach to a problem or an opportunity can have a galvanising effect on that person’s peers or team. As a coach or mentor they have a great opportunity to impart skills and knowledge that can be transformational to an individual.
  • Bringing someone into a business who has direct knowledge and experience of ‘best-in-class’ performance is a very good indication that individual that the business is looking for a step-change, and leads to greater focus and drive from them to achieve the new standard of performance the business is now looking for.
  • New ideas….new ways of doing things……combine this with the right structure and processes in place and you have the right ingredients to spur innovation and increase speed to market for new products. And for ambitious companies looking for stellar growth, this approach can be game-changing.

Change across the board

We know that certain industries and organisations set the standard for performance in some areas, but the pace of change in technology is driving a new dynamic through the old order. A great example of this is in the Automotive sector, where the world’s major OEM’s are establishing operations in the technological capital of the world, Silicon Valley, to forge close relationships with technology providers that are based there and recruit the brilliant staff that work there already or who want to work there. This kind of people and technology ‘inertia’ accelerates the rate of companies being able to recruit talent from different sectors, and helps to transform the traditional image of an organisation.

For the individual ‘on the outside looking in’ this makes the decision to move to a company in a different market a much easier and less risky one. And in making that move, the individual benefits from broadening their experience with new technology and customers, and enhances their own career development opportunities for the future – whatever sector they choose. As we hopefully see the world’s economy continue on its positive trajectory, this growing phenomenon will surely be a win-win for all concerned.

Jonathan Burke is a specialist in recruiting leadership roles within the UK’s Manufacturing and Engineering sectors, and is part of the Manufacturing Practice at Berwick Partners.

Berwick Partners, an Odgers Berndtson company, is a leading executive search business that operates throughout the UK and Europe, with a particularly strong heritage within the Industrial Markets.

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