Finance Director: Opportunity Brief
Ford & Stanley Executive Search (Part of the Ford & Stanley Group) are specialists in Executive Interim and Permanent appointments to the UK, European, US & North American, Rail, General Manufacturing, Digital & Tech Industries.
We have been exclusively entrusted and appointed by Progress Rail Services on a retained search for a Group Finance Director.
Below you will find an ‘opportunity brief’ developed from notes taken during the scoping meetings (Situational Discovery) held between the Executive Search Director, Business Manager of Executive Search and the Progress Rail Services leadership team. This brief is designed to give candidates deeper insight into the opportunity inherent within the role, the challenges the role presents and provide access to the detail that sits behind the job specification.
Client Opportunity Statement:
“Progress Rail Services have spent significant time and effort building out a capable and effective leadership team that have ensured positive results for the business. We collaborate and communicate well but what we really need is an FD who is keen to ‘have a seat at the table’ and ensure finance sits at the heart of our commercial decision making. Someone who can build strong relationships at all levels within the business and ensure we continue to drive forwards as a business.”
“Imperative to our journey is the hiring of a commercially focused Finance Director, someone who in addition to their day to day and month to month finance responsibilities is keen to get involved bids, tenders, proposals and other commercial activities. Some would say an FD with an entrepreneurial ‘flair’.”
“The business really needs someone who is comfortable ‘spinning plates’. With three separate business entities to oversee, a US ownership structure and a couple of European entities there’s a lot to keep track of! – Pun not intended…”
Group Overview: Progress Rail Services & Electromotive Diesel
Our team works hard to create lifelong customer relationships, supplying comprehensive rolling stock and infrastructure solutions for the global rail industry and setting the standard for excellence. We care about fostering the sustainable movement of goods and people for generations to come, and we know our customers care, too. Our strategic footprint ensures responsive, quality customer support all day, every day.
We are one of the largest integrated diversified providers of rolling stock and infrastructure solutions and technologies for the global rail industry. The company provides advanced EMD® locomotives, engines, and technologies, railcars, trackwork, fasteners, signaling, rail welding and Kershaw® Maintenance-of-Way equipment, along with dedicated locomotive and freight car repair services, aftermarket parts support and recycling operations. Progress Rail’s deep industry expertise ensures a commitment to quality through innovative solutions.
Our diversified line of EMD® freight and passenger locomotives and new, used and leased freight cars enables us to focus on serving a single industry — the transportation of people, goods and commodities.
Progress Rail covers the complete value chain for railroad infrastructure. Our highly specialized focus on track structure and maintenance has enabled us to become the largest supplier of infrastructure products and services in the United States, with growing international exposure.
With deliveries to over 75 countries, we have designed and produced more than 75,000 EMD® diesel engines — exceeding any other locomotive manufacturer, to create the largest installed fleet worldwide.
We continue to invest in broadening our already rich product and service offerings. We are helping our customers by creating smart, connected fleets to meet and exceed the needs of the railroads of tomorrow.
Sustainability is not only a highlight of Our Values in Action as a part of Caterpillar – it is an action we take into account every day in the communities where we live and work – whether recycling end-of-life components, railroad materials or repowering or refurbishing a locomotive.
Main Challenges the role presents:
• The incoming Finance Director will be looking after three entities which, although they work to the same processes, procedures and month end close, evidently has it’s own stakeholders and timescales. This will require the new Finance Director to ‘spin multiple plates’.
• It’s expected that the new Finance Director will take on the responsibility of being involved in Bids, Tenders and Proposals. Challenging the commercial viability.
• You will be responsible for building a finance team that is scalable, with a keen eye for succession planning and the professional development of the team. The current team are good but have potential to be great, we need an FD who will develop, empower, mentor and lead the team.
Top three deliverables in 1st year:
• You will have established strong relationships across the business at all levels, able to leverage them to help drive the business forwards.
• Have generated a strong track record of positively impacting commercial decision making, ensuring that strong financial information sits at the heart of all decisions.
• You’ll have settled the team and begun to build it to enable scalability and growth.
Candidate Essentials – Hard skills:
• Good knowledge & understanding of local tax laws, VAT and stat requirements. (UK, US) desirable to have some European but not essential.
• Fully Qualified accountant.
• International accounting experience. Highly Desirable SOX & US GAAP knowledge but not essential.
• Strong Leadership & Management Experience (with an emphasis on leadership).
• Midlands based and a ‘present’ leader able to have a presence in office at Sandicare (Nottingham) at least 3 days a week.
• A proven track record of business partnering throughout organisations at all levels and within multiple disciplines.
• Able to support with bids, tenders, contractual negotiations, modelling, investments and other areas of commercial finance.
• Candidate must come from industry. Ideal to have a candidate from any Manufacturing background such as Automotive, Rail, Aerospace, Defence or similar.
• Ability to oversee multiple business units, managing a large team (20) and going through multiple month end closes.
Candidate Essentials – Soft skills:
• Entrepreneurial, forward thinking Finance Director – an ‘enabler’.
• Hands on / able to lead from the front.
• Strong communicator at all levels.
• Willingness and interest in mentoring, empowering and developing a strong finance team ‘for the future’.
Good to know:
• The role has become available because the current incumbent has handed their notice in, they are due to leave the business at the end of Sept.
• Although not ideal, the business will be able to handle the additional workload until the expected start date in January 2024.
• Headcount for the business is roughly 670 and group turnover is available online for candidates to access.
• Important to note that the incoming FD will oversee PRSUK, EMDL and PR Leasing UK which includes international, Europeans elements in addition to US reporting responsibilities.
• The Budget processes for the business are upcoming which will be a good opportunity for the incoming FD to get to grips with the business.
• The new FD will have to quickly get up to speed with the two main business entities that are present within the group (EMDL and PRSUK). Although they use mostly the same processes and procedures clearly they will include different stakeholders, timescales and unique challenges.
• It’s expected that the incoming candidate will be able to support extensively with new bids, tenders, modelling, investments and contract negotiations – supporting the commercial capability of the business.
• Part of the business has ‘rolled out’ Dynamics 365 and the current plan is to continue this across the group. A project which will be led by the new FD.
• In addition to other responsibilities, the FD will take responsibility for the VAT & Tax for the European entities.
• This role reports directly into the VP with a ‘dotted line’ into the International Controller.
• The role with have five direct reports – Head of Finance (PRSUK and PR Leasing UK), Head of Finance (EMDL), AP Manager (Across the group), Financial Reporting Manager (Across the group), Finance Manager – Projects (Group wide). In addition to this, the team numbers around 20 in total.
• Important to note that this role will also have direct interaction with the US group and as such, an understanding of US GAAP and SOX would be beneficial.
• We are expecting the incoming FD to be fully qualified.
• The incoming FD will need to be a strong leader/manager and understand the difference between the two, able to build and motivate a capable team.
• Relationships will sit at the heart of this role and, as such, candidates will need to have strong ‘soft skills’ able to build relationships communicate well and challenge.
• Ideally we would like someone from manufacturing, engineering, transport, automotive, aerospace etc but would consider outside of this if they ‘tick’ all other boxes.
• The role will be accountable for pulling together and consolidating month end close, budgets, forecasts, AP/AR and Treasury in addition to other group wide responsibilities.
• The group normally works for a 4 working day close process.
• The business has considerable opportunity to grow and this person will be integral to the success of that, a real opportunity for someone entrepreneurial to take some ownership within the business.
• The role will be based primarily in Sandiacre (As this is where the team sits) with some flexibility for hybrid working or the option to work out of other sites if needed.
• A prerequisite of this requirement is someone who is looking for a ‘long term’ career move.
• Base Salary Banding: Low of £90k, Mid of £105k and top end of £115k
• Annual Salary Reviews
• Bonus 25% based on personal & company performance.
• 25 days Holiday + 8 Statutory
• Pension – based on salary sacrifice (starts at 4% EE and 6% ER)
• As a member of the Group Personal Pension Plan employee covered by the Company funded life assurance for 3½ times salary
• Access to 24x7 free Employee Assistance programme
• Discounted healthcare cash plan
• Opportunities for career progression
• Access to Caterpillar employee discounts hub
F&S Executive Search – Delivery Team:
Dan Taylor – Search Director (Headhunting, Client Recommendations/Advisory, Offer Negotiations)
Tom Norton – Business Manager (Headhunting, Networking, Research, Search, Longlisting, Interviews, Data & Market Intel)
Cat Lane – Executive Assistant (Diary Management, Coordination, Candidate Experience)
About Ford & Stanley Executive Search:
At Ford & Stanley Executive Search we go beyond a recruiting transaction with our core mission being that of every interaction we have with clients and candidates is best in class. We are select in the opportunities we represent, as such, work under strict exclusivity or retained agreements with forward thinking and proactive Rail companies that place their trust in our ability to deliver a winning shortlist at the first time of asking. Our Search Directors (who are themselves members of the F&S Group Board) and in-house research team invest time at the front end of process with our client’s leadership team or stakeholders to consult, understand the opportunity inherent within the role, business need, map and agree timescales with supporting delivery plan well in advance of conducting the search. All candidates both active and passive (head-hunted) can expect full and professional engagement from the Executive Search team in addition a timely, thorough and engaging recruitment process from a committed employer that seeks to secure ‘cream of the crop’ from a busy and noisy Global Rail candidate market. Ford & Stanley Group Ltd is committed to a policy of equal opportunities for all opportunity seekers and approach all opportunity with a mindset of who is right for the job irrespective sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief or political beliefs and we place an obligation upon all staff to respect and act in accordance with the policy. We shall adhere to such a policy at all times and will review on an on-going basis all aspects of recruitment to avoid unlawful or undesirable discrimination