By Jonathan Rose. Published on 1 December 2016
Mabey is a leading provider of bridging and non-mechanical construction equipment and services, helping to establish the foundations for communities to build and grow.
The organisation works in 140 countries around the world, enabling the safer, faster development of new bridges, buildings, roads, railways and utilities. Our client was a £50m subsidiary of the family-owned business, based in Dewsbury.
“Working with Eton Bridge Partners was very straight forward. They’re responsive and they understand clients’ varying needs for focus and attention. There when you need them but they don’t badger you.”
Mark Carey, Group CFO, Mabey
Mabey had previously retained Eton Bridge Partners for the recruitment of a permanent HR Director. They had been impressed by the process we used, so when a commercial finance manager role emerged within the Finance team, they approached us once again.
Associate Partner Jonathan Rose advised our contact at Mabey, Group CFO Mark Carey, that this role would not be a good match for the senior professionals that Eton Bridge Partners represents and recommended another firm that would be better placed to find the right person.
So when a vacancy arose for an interim Finance Director, Mark knew that not only would we know the right level of people required, we’d also be open about if we could help.
“I had an urgent need for a high quality candidate who could be approached confidentially and who could hit the ground running and steady the ship after a difficult period. From my previous experience, I was sure Eton Bridge Partners could help.” Mark Carey, Group CFO, Mabey
The role included responsibility for finance, credit control, IT and supply chain management in one of Mabey’s four operating businesses. The background to the vacancy precluded the option of advertising, and the search had to be discreet.
“Trust was critical given the circumstances surrounding the need for the search. The candidates had to be appropriately briefed. Eton Bridge Partners understood and put the right candidates forward.” Mark Carey, Group CFO, Mabey
WHAT WE DID
The confidential nature of the search meant we had to focus on candidates we already knew. On this occasion we did not have exclusivity on the search, however such was the quality of our network that two of the four candidates selected for interview were suggested by Eton Bridge Partners.
Both candidates were considered appointable and Mabey’s first choice, John Bailey, accepted the role. While both candidates had the experience to do the role well, John was felt to be the better cultural fit.
“I’ve been an interim since 2001 and Eton Bridge Partners has always been high on my radar,” explained John. “They previously placed me in a Divisional Finance Controller role with Balfour Beatty and they’re good at keeping in touch to check availability without being pushy. They’re very professional; they treat as you as an interim not as another temp.”
From a brief issued in March, John started his interim contract in April. Although initially planned for just three months, it was extended to the end of the year, with a handover period planned after that.
Mark Carey reports “John’s doing an excellent job!”
John recognised early in his tenure that his four teams were skilled and enthusiastic, but needed his guidance on priorities.
“I enjoyed the challenge,” says John. “The team had potential but they needed direction and motivation. I introduced a change of department culture to make it much more positive, enthusiastic and vibrant. The managers aspired to a higher level of management so I introduced fortnightly one-to-ones, which had the added benefit of improving engagement and retention.”
John decided to replace two Senior Management Accounting roles with one Financial Controller position, achieving cost savings for Mabey and clear leadership as a result.
He focused his team’s efforts on cash generation and during his tenure John has reduced overdue debt by a substantial amount.
“We engage with sales directors, operations and finance, to problem solve and find ways to get the cash in,” he explained. “The culture of openness is now greater with people taking ownership of these issues.”
As a result, people are now approaching the Finance Director to discuss business challenges, something that did not happen previously, and John’s approach is being rolled out across the business.