Catapult Centres

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Case Study: CEO of six Catapult Centres with the Technology Strategy Board

Our partnership with the Technology Strategy Board, led by Baljit Dhadda, demonstrates our experience of bringing commercial expertise into the UK’s economic growth context. The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is the ‘UK Innovation Agency’, they work in priority areas and their support for business-led innovation, are key parts of the Government’s industrial strategy. They work across cutting edge SMEs, business, academia and government - supporting innovative projects, reducing risk, creating partnerships, and promoting collaboration, knowledge exchange and open innovation. They have recently created a network of Catapults which are key planks of the government’s high-tech manufacturing strategy, utilising Britain’s leading strengths in the knowledge economy: Cell Therapy, Connected Digital Economy, Satellite Applications, Future Cities, Transport Systems and Offshore Renewable Energy.

The Catapults are trail-blazing organisations and part of our search role was to convince high-level individuals of their significance, which was not yet fully understood in the market. We placed the Chief Executives for all the six catapults and were able to look at the skills matrix for each vehicle, which differed according to needs of a particular market.  Catapults are enabling organisations that will support and enable sectors to respond to social and economic challenges most effectively, and deliver commercial value to those sectors.

Our candidates were hugely diverse, identified by extensive and creative market mapping across blue-chip industry, cutting-edge SMEs, applied academia, infrastructure and major projects, private finance, consultancy and professional services, government and media and the creative industries. Candidates were targeted both for their fit with the relevant field of each Catapult as well as their executive responsibilities as part of the Board. We understand what a balanced, effective Board looks like.

Our challenge was to identify candidates with strong, passionate and visionary leadership style that could drive innovation and shape strategic partnerships, through strategic influencing and facilitation. Our success was, critically, dependent on individuals who had the ability and credibility to lead these Catapults in the public eye, who could deal confidently and assuredly with diverse stakeholders including including companies and researchers in various markets, public sector funders of innovation etc., and establish a future-proof solution framework in some of the most rapidly developing areas of knowledge economy.

Here are a few examples of successful Catapult assignments of comparable complexity and seniority to this CEO requirement, delivered by our named team:

Chief Executive, Connected Digital Economy Catapult: The successful candidate was Neil Crockett, who brought a leadership background with the London 2012 (Cisco) as Managing Director of Cisco (UK), British Telecom and WW Operations demonstrating breadth of digital innovation experience across public and private sectors.

Chief Executive, Future Cities Catapult: The successful candidate was Peter Madan with credible leadership profile as the Chief Executive of ‘Forum for the Future’ where he was responsible for designing and delivering strategy and innovation programmes for international companies such as EDF, Levis, Tesco, and Unilever. He brought a strong track record of advocacy for sustainability, combined with experience across the public, and private sectors that had required working with and at complex stakeholder interface.

Chief Executive, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult: The successful candidate Andrew Jamieson brought strong leadership credibility across a relevant stakeholder interface combined with significant expertise in renewables.  With a career spanning over 23 years at Scottish Power he held a number of roles in a wide variety of fields culminating in Policy and Innovation Director. He had extensive management experience in dealing with commercial issues, managing business governance practices, recruiting and managing teams, and communicating and building relationships with external stakeholders including academia, Government and industry.

Chief Executive, Satellite Applications Catapult: We successfully placed Stuart Martin, Partner, and Global Director for Space and Satellite Communications, Logica, who brought evidence of commercial downstream application across multiple markets. With relevant leadership experience in global markets and in collaboration with universities, he understood the space in which the Catapult would operate and undertook a number of ambassadorial roles that brought recognition.

Chief Executive, Transport Systems Catapult: The successful candidate Steve Yianni was previously the Director of Engineering at Network Rail, where he developed and implemented a world class innovation and new product introduction process. He had remarkable leadership credibility in implementation of technology innovation in relevant markets that embraced P & L responsibility, commercial and entrepreneurial ability as well as proven ability to work across a relevant complex stakeholder interface.

Managing risk and challenge

  • We worked closely with all the Catapults to devise a robust and complete recruitment process, advising our client candidly about the market in the public and private sectors and feeding back to them perceptions of the role and the project itself.
  • Regular communication and progress updates were provided and our clients made themselves available to manage issues and queries; strong partnership is critical to managing risk and expectations.
  • Our screening of candidates was focused on ensuring they could withstand the scrutiny that comes both from the appointment process and the role itself.
  • Each candidate report and recommendation was clearly aligned to each point of the role description to provide rigorous, transparent, risk-managed analysis.

Sourcing and candidate screening

  • Comprehensive brief and effective stakeholder engagement facilitating creative and diverse search. This role had very complex and diverse user/stakeholder relationships at its heart; we focused our search on candidates with proven track records in a scalable environment.
  • Refining the role descriptions and materials; we provided constructive challenge and experience of what has worked in comparable assignments to produce a first-rate pack that enabled strong applications and clearly defined the search parameters through the role’s priority skillsets and experience.
  • Market testing and benchmarking: identifying potential candidates and concurrent recruitment activity in the market.
  • Informed, candid and sensitive candidate care, managing their risks and expectations at each stage of the process
  • 360 degree candidate profiling throughout the search so that our weekly meetings with the clients were in-depth and risk-led. We were able to test out potential candidates and refine the search as we progressed, rather than reach the closing date with an uninformed client.

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