The Situation

Our client was a US-owned international manufacturer and distributor of engines for the marine sector. Their complex portfolio of products includes inboard, outboard petrol engines for the leisure sector and diesel engines for larger craft, plus a wide range of parts and accessories. Their route to market included a large network of independent retailers as well as boat builders, importers and distributors. Products were manufactured across the globe, and for the EMEA region, they were all stored in and distributed from the EMEA distribution centre in Belgium.

The Solution

Our challenge was to find a shortlist of experienced supply chain professionals who had managed similarly large and complex supply chain operations. Our candidates should be working in a sector where they process thousands of products through their supply chain, warehouse and logistics operation, including finished products, spare/replacement parts and commodity items; and have an international distribution network that includes dealers and master distributors. Good experience in unionised environments would also be an asset. Whilst automotive would be the most obvious sector – including vehicles, engines and components - we also searched a range of other manufacturing sectors, including household appliances and technology products.

It was a pre-requisite that our candidates are fluent in French and English because French is the language used at the EMEA distribution centre and English is the language for all upward reporting.

Beyond experience and language skills, the major differentiators were the candidate’s ability to “have their finger on the pulse” in terms of controlling and reporting accurately on all the main parameters of their operation; and their familiarity with trades unions and industrial relations. Their predecessor – who was Director of Supply Chain – had major issues with both of these aspects of his role.

The Outcome

We identified a total of 130 potential candidates for this position. We approached 70 candidates to assess their suitability for and interest in our proposition. The initial approaches were conducted in French by a multi-lingual researcher who could, therefore, vouch for the candidate’s fluency in French. I conducted a subsequent interview in English, thus covering the language stipulation.

We built a shortlist of five individuals to be interviewed by the EMEA President and his HR Director. Two of those five had subsequent interviews and ultimately one was appointed. A second-choice candidate also deemed suitably qualified to perform in the role and was “kept warm” so that we could turn to her if something happened to the offered candidate.

The incumbent Director of Supply Chain was in the midst of a managed exit from the company, so it was crucial that this assignment was managed confidentially. 

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