Finding a new role for an experienced company director in the South East
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An experienced company director in the South East
This managing director had spent four years leading Wallop Defence Systems. Initially, he needed outplacement support for about 100 people following Wallop's decision to close a site in Hampshire.
My first experience with Connor was as a buyer of their outplacement services. Wallop is part of Esterline and Connor has been their outplacement partner for a number of years.
I wasn't keen on the idea of being forced to use a particular outplacement partner. I didn't know what to expect but I had a very positive meeting with Fraser Silvey and Julia Nickless from Connor and our relationship grew from there.
"With Connor's support I was offered a fantastic role with a great financial package. I have the opportunity to do something interesting in a fascinating environment."
My team told me that they appreciated the quality and caring nature of the Connor consultants who worked with them. I heard the word 'genuine' being used to describe them and their practical guidance on CVs and LinkedIn profiles was particularly useful. People appreciated the one to one support they had from Connor and whatever you did for my employees, it worked.
I was utterly focused on supporting our employees during the change and making sure they were taken care of. In our first meeting, Fraser and Julia also outlined their outplacement support for executives and this struck a chord with me. I had been living with the knowledge of the change for some time but, in the longer term, I knew I needed to consider my own future.
I then became an outplacement candidate myself and it's fair to say the world had changed since I last proactively looked for a job. I had made moves through being approached or through company acquisition since 1988.
I had developed a career in being a strong managing director for an SME and this was the type of role I wanted to find again. But, at 56, I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be. I felt the 'wrong age' - ten years from retirement but perhaps too late in my career to be considered for things I was interested in.
I soon realised outplacement is not like working with a recruitment agency – you need to get ready for the fact that no one is going to deliver an interview for you. You have to do the uncomfortable bit of contacting people in your network to ask for a good reference and open up opportunities. But, outplacement is invaluable because you are supported every step of the way by an experienced professional.
I knew I needed help to best approach the job market. The career questionnaire and other self-reflection exercises at the start of Connor’s outplacement support confirmed that the kind of role I felt was right for me would indeed be a good fit.
My consultant needed to have experience in the job market and someone who could find me a role with the level of seniority I wanted. Connor knew what it was doing when I was paired with John Hannides as he was an ideal match. As my coach, John added his expertise and experience, bringing anecdotes and valuable advice from his own career. What more could I want?
This was all backed up by the Connor process, which was excellent – particularly their outplacement manual that outlines each step of searching for and securing a new role. John really helped to bring that to life and make it relevant for my search.
Recruitment for managing directors is complex. John's support prepared me for some of the realities of looking for a new job, which were different to my perceptions. Connor’s outplacement support helped me to understand today's job market and how to access it.
I revised my LinkedIn profile and received eight approaches about jobs. I had never been approached about roles on LinkedIn before, so this was a significant change. My CV wasn't bad but John gave me specific guidance to enhance it, which was invaluable.
At times I was worried that I wasn’t doing enough to get a new role, and this caused me some anxiety. In my role as managing director, I was devoted to my people and my role, so this made it tough to focus on myself and my next step. John was pleasantly persistent in encouraging me and providing advice, which helped me to move forward.
Connor has a positive and supportive tone in everything it does. If someone loses confidence and self-esteem, it really affects their chances of moving on successfully and finding the right role.
John always put me at ease, starting our conversations with "How are you?" or "What are you up to?" By the end of the conversation, he’d moved on to giving me guidance. He is a very skilled coach – something I am particularly good at spotting in others. Advice is best given through questions and John does this well.
John convinced me that the best way to secure my next role was through my network. He encouraged me to use this route for the type of senior role I was looking for and it was critical to me finding the right one. He insisted that I network with purpose and be clear about my agenda during networking meetings.
John told me not to make other people feel like I was asking for a job. It can cause them to feel under pressure and shut down. He explained that the most effective way of approaching a networking meeting is to ask for people’s help and advice and to keep the conversation open. John reminded me that it's within people's nature to want to help. This proved to be spot on in my case.
In terms of my interview approach, John encouraged me to think about the three things I had to offer. This helped me with senior stakeholders when I had limited time with them and needed to get key points across. John specifically asked me to think about my 'elevator pitch' – what I should include in the conversation and what I should leave out.
When John and I discussed various opportunities, he suggested setting myself up as a limited company for tax and financial reasons. This was a good solution for me and I wouldn’t have got this advice elsewhere. John has walked so many paths in his career and this is why he was so helpful and quick with his insight.
With Connor's support I was offered a programme director role by the managing director of McLaren, with a great financial package. I have the opportunity to do something interesting in a fascinating environment and I love being associated with the McLaren brand. Having been at Wallop for a number of years, I realised the transition into a new environment, no matter how exciting, could be a culture shock. As part of my onboarding support, John talked to me about change management and ways to navigate any issues. I know Connor's door is open to me, and the ongoing support has been a great comfort.