COO TSB’s

place holder

We partnered with the Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK) on the Director of Operations. This role is central to TSB’s strategy, accountable for the delivery of all activities that select recipients, deliver and monitor TSB funding streams. This role will improve and develop processes to ensure on- going cost-effectiveness, scalability, excellence in customer service and capture of data to support impact evaluation

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 role as well as their responsibilities as part of the Executive 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 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.

The calibre and diversity of candidates’ experience on the search-led shortlist included:

  • Strong academic backgrounds embracing the complexities that surround the technology, commercial and government environments.
  • Proven track record of successful leadership in commercial exploitation of science and technology against a backdrop of significant market change and engagement within complex stakeholder environments across the world.
  • Senior level customer service delivery, with a wide delivery portfolio in a segmented customer market
  • Significant experience in driving innovation across a range of public/private sector bodies and SMEs and has credible experience in strategizing international business developments
  • Significant experience in identifying long-term technology trends and transferring knowledge into strategy along with excellent understanding of market behaviour and commercial issues pertaining to innovation (e.g. disruptive technologies, globalisation)
  • Significant experience of leading strategic decision-making, stakeholder engagement, major strategic transformation programmes within industry and governments along with significant track record of working third parties in order to deliver joint commitments
  • Experience in strategic aspects of various nationally significant programmes, business and research communities, maximizing the commercial value of high level collaborative networks across industry and government sectors. 

The successful candidate, Anne Dixon brought operations background as the Head of Science Funding & Operations at the Medical Research Council.  With significant experience in handling complex stakeholder arrangements as part of major TSB programmes such as the Biomedical Catalyst and the Catapult programme, Anne conveyed a strong sense of leadership gravitas with an ability to see the end game in terms of organisational skills, customer insight, market analysis and intelligence. She had a clear communications style and a very business-like approach.  She had excellent customer facing experience and resource management ability.

Managing risk and challenge

  • We worked closely with the Technology Strategy Board 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 roles and the projects in general.
  • 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 roles 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 first-rate information packs 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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