Building an Exceptional Senior Team for a Utility Leader

Our client is one of the largest electricity Distribution Network Operators in the UK. The company owns and operates two of the 14 regional electricity license areas across the country.

6 Group initially held a meeting with the client’s CEO to present different ways in which we could support them in expanding and growing the business. The CEO introduced us to the Director of Organisational Development who was aiming to enhance organisational and individual effectiveness. The client also made it clear that the business was going through a period of significant transformation which would require a complete restructuring of their leadership team.

What would ultimately follow would be a journey with our client to find exceptional senior talent across a variety of disciplines.

But first, we would have to demonstrate we were the right partner for the job…

PROVING GROUND

The initial search that 6 Group conducted was for a leadership role within specialist finance to support the Finance Director. They were looking for someone with a combination of sector experience and strong leadership skills to be able to lead the Internal Audit division through their period of significant change.

6 Group identified and assessed a range of suitable candidates both internally and externally against bespoke functional and behavioural competencies. We engaged a host of talented individuals capable of stepping into the role, but a full technical and behavioural assessment was necessary to really dig down into their capabilities. Following this, a shortlist of exceptional candidates was presented to the client for the interview stage and the search was completed.

Two months later, our client’s Regulation Director contacted 6 Group asking us to find a Company Secretary to support the legal counsel. The ideal candidate would be someone with a strong understanding of a large regulated business and with strong experience in legal compliance. Once again, and following a similar search process as before, 6 Group completed the search assignment in a timely manner.

THE JOURNEY BEGAN

After a short period of time, and given the client’s high level of satisfaction from both previous appointments, we were invited to discuss the prospect of partnering with the client to support the growth of their senior team through the conducting searches for five key positions:

Head of People

The client needed to recruit a Head of People to form part of the newly created People & Customer Services function, focusing on a shared services set-up. The individual appointed would have to drive forward the people strategy, learning & development plan along with people-related change initiatives aligned with the business strategic plan. This role was crucial for the business to establish a strong new function. Not only a solid education background was a requirement for this role, but it was also very important to consider certain personal characteristics such as drive, charisma and commercial intelligence to allow them to mould this role themselves.

6 Group placed an exceptional individual into this role with a strong shared-services experience, which enabled a rapid growth and development of the division.

Head of System Strategy

A requirement for another critical role arose within the business shortly after. The need to hire a Head of System Strategy became evident as the business required someone with a real understanding of people engineering challenges. For this search, in particular, 6 Group had to adhere to a strictly structured process focusing on an electrical engineering background and extensive asset management experience in large utility businesses. We conducted a European-wide search across all main distribution network operators (DNOs). 6 Group identified and placed someone in this position who was trained and developed for ten years through one of the UK’s leading transmission companies.

Head of IT & Telecommunications

6 Group was invited to conduct a search for a Head of IT & Telecommunications as the business needed to appoint a replacement for the outgoing IT Director. The ideal candidate would be someone with the necessary skill set to deal with the unique challenges of IT within a 24/7 security and safety critical environment.

This role was again challenging, given that this is a very skill constricted market, which made it very difficult to find the ideal candidate who had the right balance between leadership experience and technical knowledge. Despite this, we placed a highly adept individual into this role who successfully met the client’s expectations.

Tax Manager

Meanwhile, the company’s Finance department required further support at this stage and the client needed 6 Group’s help in finding a Tax Manager to support the Finance Director and the Global Group company.

The search process for this and previous corporate services roles was particularly challenging as this market tends to be confined to large corporations where there is a good knowledge of strategy and development. Subsequently, a number of individuals approached were reluctant to move away from these larger competitors for fear of limited progression opportunities.

Despite the challenges, a candidate from one of the top ten tax firms was placed by 6 Group in this role.

Business Manager (CEO’s Office)

This time around, the client was looking for a Business Manager (CEO’s office) to assist the Strategic Planning & Delivery (SP&D) team in guiding Executive-level decision-making. An internal team member was assessed for this position as well as candidates externally sourced. 6 Group was able to find the perfect individual for this role, achieving yet another timely placement.

CHALLENGES AND OUTCOMES

What differed in this process compared to other searches was the scope of the candidates we had to place focus on. The client was specifically interested in finding individuals with long-term career plans and, therefore, we had to direct our efforts into identifying the motivations and aspirations of candidates to ensure they were the best fit for our client’s requirements.

Overall, issues around a lower than average remuneration package posed a common obstacle to all seven search assignments. Candidate attraction was consequently weaker which led 6 Group to develop new strategies and approaches to overcome this issue, such as widening competitor searches and expanding target locations for candidate identification.

Geography also posed a significant constraint on candidate attraction. Large complex businesses tended to be confined to the London area and not many individuals approached were willing to relocate from direct competitors.

The partnership with our client was crucial for their development and growth as a business. Not only were all seven searches were successful, but all hired candidates are also still within the business in the same role as of September 2018.

This ongoing relationship gave us a unique opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities and allowed us to restructure and transform an entire senior team for our client.

 


6 Group has partnered with Utility companies across the globe for over a decade to deliver a host of truly exceptional projects around Executive Search, Talent Mapping & Pipelining and Leadership Assessment.

To learn more about a partnership with 6 Group, get in touch using the contact form below.

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