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5 things to consider when recruiting from industry into consulting

Companies in industry have often tempted consultants advising them to step across the divide and join them permanently. However, with consulting such a hot market at present consultancy firms are not just poaching from one another but increasingly looking to industry to attract key staff.

The switch from industry into consulting is a big adjustment. One that not everyone will be able to make successfully.

That’s not to say that one is better than the other as a career path. Some people switch between the two several times in their career to great effect.

Ultimately career path comes down to an individual’s preferences, skills and personal drivers. From our experience, individuals who successfully move from industry into consulting bring a credibility and understanding of practical issues that consultancies really benefit from.

These are some of the key differences to focus on when assessing if someone can make the transition into the world of consulting.

1. Variety of work

Within industry, senior managers typically have a specific functional responsibility within their business that they focus on. For instance, a Capital Projects Director at a water company will lead a programme of water asset related projects.

At a consultancy, a Projects Director could be required to work on a rail project one month and a highways project the next. This requires someone to be flexible enough to adapt their skills and transfer knowledge across sectors.

This also applies to other functional areas of expertise, with consulting teams constantly forming and demobilising new teams for different projects. It is a great opportunity to learn new skills from other experts and allows individuals to gain exposure to a variety of challenges to quickly develop.

People who will benefit from this type of environment are those that thrive on continual stream of new challenges and enjoy steep learning curves.

2. Complexity

Typically companies utilise consultancies to assist with solving their more complex, urgent or unusual problems, which results in consultants continually working on the big challenging problems.

In industry, the major challenges tend to be more cyclical, and in the down time you might have more business as usual issues to deal with.

An example of this might be major planning applications such as Development Consent Orders. If you are good at developing DCO’s, then within consulting, you might be the go-to person to work on them. Within a client organisation, a DCO may only be required once every decade, requiring major planning experts to move job every few years from one industry client to another.

Consultants are constantly challenged and engaged but it can be a very fast paced environment, which will not suit everyone.

3. Advising (not deciding)

Consultants come up with solutions to recommend to their client, who then make the ultimate decision which option to take. However great your advice is, at the end of the day it isn’t your decision. For some, this could lead to frustration.

In industry, senior managers will often have delegated authority to take decisions within their given remit.

4. Selling

Business development is crucial to succeeding in a consulting environment. To progress at senior level, you need to win work and build strong client relationships.

Sales is probably the biggest reason that people fail when moving from industry to consulting, so it is pivotal to gauge how comfortable candidates coming from industry will be in this area.

Building strong client relationships is more than just winning work. Candidates must have the ability to build rapport, understand the client’s issues and make sure that the project is successful.

5. Travel

Dependant on the type of advice, consulting can involve more travel than roles in industry. Particularly if the role means that you need to be on site to work with your client.

While this is a lesser factor since COVID, it is definitely still a major consideration. Understanding the typical work pattern is key.

I would love to hear what your experience has been. Do you have experience recruiting from industry into consulting, or have you made that leap yourself? What were the major challenges you faced?

Please do get in touch to discuss your experiences.

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director

Movers and shakers in transport & infrastructure – the headlines from March 2022

The sun is finally shining and Spring is officially here.

Congratulations to all of our Movers and Shakers from March, let’s take a look at who has moved where this month…

Sizewell C

EDF have appointed Stephen Billingham, a former Chief Financial Officer at electricity firm British Energy, in an advisory capacity to the executive team for Sizewell C as it takes steps to become an independent company. He will become Chair of the project later this year.

They have also announced that Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson is retiring as Director of Nuclear Development for Sizewell C.

Royal BAM Group

Two Executive Directors have left BAM’s UK and Ireland division following a rejig of its reporting structures.

Bruce Dickson has stepped down from his role as Transformation Director UK & Ireland after more than 30 years with the business and Doug Keillor leaves his roles as Executive Director having joined the business in 1990.


Have announced the appointment of Rob Mullen as Managing Director, following the departure of Ben Ackroyd who leaves this Spring. Rob joins c2c from GTR, where he was Train Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern.


Have appointed Natascha McIntyre-Hall as its new Head of Regeneration. McIntyre-Hall returns to the business after a stint as Assistant Director of Strategic Developments with Portsmouth City Council.

Rider Levett Bucknall

Chris Trew and Peter Baxter have joined as Partner and Associate Partner respectively, leading its new utilities advisory service. The pair had previously been Directors at Gleeds for just over two years.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER)

Have announced that Claire Ansley has been appointed to the new role of People and Customer Experience Director. Ansley, who has been Customer Experience Director for four years, will additionally oversee the People team.


Have appointed two new Directors to target expansion in the pharmaceuticals sector. Claire Sedgwick becomes Mace Consult’s Strategic Lead for Business Development, leaving Atkins.

Sandra Davies, who joins from Jacobs, was named as Engineering and Technical SME Lead.


David Hatfield has joined as Business Development Director for their Rail business. Hatfield leaves Grand Central Railway where he has been Fleet Director since 2011.


Have announced the appointment of Sarah Mussenden to Group Chief Financial Officer, joining in May. She joins from Royal Mail where she has been Interim Chief Financial Officer.

Mott MacDonald

Simon Hubbard has also joined as EUNA Major Pursuits Lead. He leaves ARCADIS where he was Strategic Pursuits Director.

McLaren Construction

Have appointed former Sir Robert McAlpine London boss Paul Heather into a new role as Group Managing Director of its construction business where he will report into the firm’s owners Kevin Taylor and Phil Pringle. Heather left McAlpine last September after four years at the firm.

Balfour Beatty

Have appointed Louise Hardy to sit on its board as a Non-Executive Director. Hardy’s most recent executive role was as European Project-Excellence Director for AECOM.

National Grid

Will Serle has joined as Chief People Officer. He leaves Capita where he has been Chief People Officer since 2018.

Network Rail

Have appointed Robin Dobson as Group Property Director, replacing Stuart Kirkwood who is leaving the organisation after 11 years. Dobson joins from Hammerson Plc.

Laing O’Rourke

Have appointed Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, to its board as a Non-Executive Director.

West Midlands Trains

Have announced the appointment of Ian McConnell – currently Chief Operating Officer at ScotRail – as its new Managing Director. He will join WMT once ScotRail has successfully been handed over to the new public body, Scottish Rail Holdings.

Linbrooke Services

Saul Brennan has joined as Group Commercial Director. He leaves Network Rail where he began his career in 2002, most recently he was Programme Commercial Manager – NW&C Capital Delivery.


Have announced that Charlotte Pearce will be joining the company as Head of UK Rail. Pearce has most recently been working as a Consultant to the Digital Catapult.


Chief Executive Officer of Knorr-Bremse AG, Jan Mrosik, is leaving the company with effect from the end of April. Chief Financial Officer Frank Markus Weber will additionally assume the duties of CEO on an interim basis until a replacement is found.


Lorraine Gregory has been appointed as the new Regional Director for the Midlands, succeeding Dawn Karakatsanis, who has held the post for four-and-a-half years. Gregory has joined CECA from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).


Have appointed Alice Gillman as Head of Business Development. She joins from Vivarail where she has spent seven years as Head of Marketing.

Partnering with us for your next search will help you to source the very best talent across your sectors. Click below to get in touch and find out more information.

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director

Closing the green skills gap

In November of 2020, Boris Johnson set out his 10 point plan for the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution. In this plan, he detailed how we were to achieve the legally binding obligation of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

As part of this promise, the government has a target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035, compared with 1990 levels.

2035 is a mere 15 years from now. If we consider that Sizewell C has been in talks for the last 12 years and if works were to begin as predicted by 2024 it won’t be completed until 2036 at the very earliest.

15 years is a drop in the ocean.

Various task forces have been established now to address the most pressing issues, but it is time to start acting on their recommendations.

Starting with the massive green skills gap.

Every major sector in the UK needs to close a significant skills gap to enable them to reach net zero. Looking specifically at the Infrastructure & Built Environment sectors, the most pressing areas to focus on are Power and Transport.


The power sector is responsible for c11% of UK emissions, and employment is expected to increase by roughly 80,000 people by 2040. This is largely within the Offshore wind market where employment is expected to increase 170% by 2026.

Spanning wind, solar, hydropower, hydrogen, nuclear, bioenergy, carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) and tidal power, the jobs most likely to be in demand are:

  • Manufacturing: making renewable energy technologies, equipment and parts.
  • Construction and engineering: building renewable energy infrastructure, such as offshore wind farms.
  • Maintenance: repairing, refurbishing and upgrading existing renewable energy infrastructure.
  • Data analysts and digital specialists


The Transport sector is responsible for 31% emissions, and it is estimated that an additional 175,000 employees will be needed by 2035.

The jobs likely to be in demand are:

  • Sustainable aviation: green aerospace engineers, alternative fuel experts and hydrogen electrolysis engineers.
  • Electric vehicles: charging infrastructure designers, manufacturers and operators, battery development experts, micro mobility manufacturers and regulators.
  • Active travel: urban designers and city planners.
  • Public transport: green bus and coach manufacturers, and rail electrical engineers.

There is an awful lot of talk about what we need to do in order to achieve net zero. What we really need to see now, is serious, sensible actions taken to make them happen.

So how can we start to reskill the Transport & Infrastructure sectors? 

1. Educational Institutions

This is not a ground-breaking suggestion. The National Skills Academy for Rail was recently established to help employers, trainers and organisations develop skills. Various smaller academies in the energy market have been set up such as the X-Academy and The Green Skills Academy, but nothing government led as of yet.

And of course, there was the troubled National College of High Speed Rail which ultimately failed because it wasn’t training in the areas that businesses really needed.

For new skills institutions to succeed, the government and academia need to learn from this and work closely with businesses in the industry to determine what it is they actually need and ensure academies offer courses in those areas.

These need to be realistic courses that will result in someone getting a job today, not 10 years from now. And then as the green technology develops, the colleges will need to be adaptable enough to offer new or updated training.

2. Government action

We’ve seen a lot of task forces but we’ve not seen a lot of contracts being let to deliver change.

If we look at transport decarbonisation, there have been a handful of consultancy contracts that have recently been awarded advising public sector businesses. This is nowhere near the volume of activity that is going to be required to achieve the governments ambitious targets.

Along with feasibility studies to work out what the best solution is, the government needs to provide the incentives for the private sector to then deliver decarbonisation.

The supply chain needs to see a predictable and sustained pipeline of work to invest in skills in the skills required to deliver it. There is little incentive for companies to reskill their employees if the work isn’t there for them to win.

3. Recruit from allied sectors or International Markets

When there is a serious skills shortage in the domestic market and you don’t have time to re-train staff from scratch then there are two main options: look to other sectors or countries. Are there allied markets with transferrable skills? Are other countries more experienced in the specialist area?

Hinkley Point C (HPC) is an example of this. Sizewell B was completed in 1995. When EDF announced they wished to build HPC in 2008, a full 13 years had passed in the UK since the last new nuclear build. EDF went down the route of working closely with French supply chain companies to utilise their skills built up over years in the much larger French nuclear market on HPC. They supplemented these engineering skills with project and programme management skills from allied infrastructure markets such as rail, airports and conventional gas power stations.

There is so much that needs to be done in order to make the governments emissions targets a reality. Have you struggled to fill roles in emerging sectors, or are you considering recruiting for a role but you’re not sure the talent is out there?

Our talent mapping service allows you to map out the market to determine the potential candidate pool before you commit to a full executive search.

If this is something that interests you, please give me a call or email to discuss further.Book a 15 minute call

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director