Sector Business Director Highways

The Client

Amey is a UK based infrastructure support services company and was the biggest supplier of services to the UK government last year.  The business has three core operational business units: Amey Consulting, Secure Infrastructure, and Transport Infrastructure. Transport Infrastructure comprises the Rail and Highways sectors.

The Brief

Amey retained Newsom Consulting to recruit a Sector Business Director to lead their UK Highways business. This role would be P&L responsible for their Highways division, leading a team of c2000 people.

This role was key to shaping and implementing the Highway’s divisional business plan. The successful candidate would be responsible for driving continual improvement and delivering the divisions ambitious growth plans.

The Sector Business Director needed to have experience in operational leadership in the highways sector, delivering tangible, bottom-line results that demonstrated strong business and commercial acumen.

The Process

For this role, highways maintenance experience was essential. In order to find this, the research focused on tier 1 contractors that had significant highways or highways-related businesses. Similar companies across other infrastructure sectors were also included in the target list, to ensure that candidates who had previous experience in highways maintenance were not missed. 

The research was also conducted according to location; across the National Highways regions, Newsom Consulting searched for the operational leaders who work or have worked at the maintenance contractors for each Area (1-14). A similar search was done across the major local authority highways maintenance contracts.

Our extensive internal database was searched and the consultants networked contacts to find suitable candidates.

After receiving feedback on the longlist research, candidates were approached regarding the opportunity. Many candidates were interested in the role and were attracted to the level of responsibility and to Amey as a business.

It became apparent during the search that some candidates felt a disconnect between the job title and the brief. This position was a Managing Director role in all but title and those who already held a Managing Director job title were disinclined to lose it. To overcome this, it was key to engage with candidates in person to fully explain the role and its scope of responsibilities. This meant that initial approaches had to be highly personalised to each candidate, with enough detail to peak their interest yet maintain the confidentiality of the role.

The lead consultant assessed interested candidates using competency-based interviews, examining their leadership, collaboration, and communication skills as well as their ability to deliver change. Personality profiling was also used, with feedback provided on areas to probe at the next interview by our leadership assessment consultant.

The Outcome

From a longlist of 42, Newsom Consulting presented a shortlist of 5 candidates who then interviewed with Amey. The successful candidate had 20 years’ experience in the Highways term maintenance sector and a background in improving the financial performance and culture of a significant multi-million-pound highways business with a large network of depots. They were an ideal fit for Amey and have transitioned well into their new role.  


You are incredibly well connected to the industry and very quickly understand our needs, Jim takes time to understand the role profile, and the culture and challenges of the organisation and hand picks the shortlist. This process works really well and saves time and money in the search.