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A Retained Search - Senior Pre-Contract Professionals required for Sir Robert McAlpine

The Client

Robert McAlpine is a leading UK building and civil engineering company. They combine outstanding technical expertise with the personal touch that comes with being a family-owned company. Operating across all the major market sectors, they offer a full range of construction and civil engineering services. They work in partnership with private and public sector clients, tailoring their services to meet client requirements. They work with all forms of contract, be it traditional, construction management, design and build, management contracting, design manage and construct or bespoke.  Notable projects include the Olympic Stadium, O2 Arena, Emirates Stadium, the Eden Project, Cabot Circus in Bristol, the M74 Completion in Glasgow and Milton Court in London.

The Challenge

Robert McAlpine opening a new office in Manchester to focus on growing their Civil Engineering division. Top of their priority list were three senior pre-contract professional to be involved with Bids.

Reporting directly into the UK country managing director, clear deliverables were required by the post holder including:

  • to maximise profitability

  • to design

  • to personally manage key strategic partner


The Solution

Following an introduction from Kenton Black, one of Kenton Black’s specialist Executive Search consultants contacted Sir Robert McAlpine about the vacancies. Through the specification of good quality, senior candidates, Kenton Black built and maintained a relationship with the client.  A meeting was set up at SRM head office to gain further insight into the role and to learn more about SRM UK and global operations, products, and tailored solutions.

The client advised that whilst he was obviously extremely well connected in the UK construction sector, he felt that an impetus of fresh talent and new ideas were required in order to see SRM continue to develop and maintain their industry leading service standards and operational profitability levels.

Due to the nature of the candidate specification and experience required, outlined in a detailed role brief, it was proposed that an exclusive and retained process was the best possible solution for SRM supported by a UK wide online advertising campaign. This strategy would be augmented by an extensive review of Kenton Black’s passive and active database and exclusive network.

After explaining the process in detail and agreeing timelines for key stages including; go to market, candidate appraisal meetings, shortlisting and the client interview process, it was agreed to commence the assignment.

Kenton Black’s fee for the assignment was agreed prior to the commencement of the assignment and was payable in two parts, 50% upfront based on expected salary and 50% on successful placement (start date).


The Result

Progress and updates were delivered to the client both verbally and via assignment updates throughout the process.

More than 80 candidates applied for the position over a 12-week period. Kenton Black spoke with each candidate to qualify their suitability for the role. This extensive response list was quickly siphoned to a few potential suitable candidates.

In addition, forty-seven candidates were approached directly. These prospects were identified from Kenton Black’s extensive database and the Kenton Black consultant's own UK wide referral network from within the marketplace.

The KB consultant met in person with over twenty candidates during a 4-week period. Following a detailed interview process, seven candidates were shortlisted for recommendation to Sir Robert McAlpine.

The shortlist was submitted and a detailed presentation was made to the SRM UK managing director, who agreed to speak with every candidate shortlisted. Following his initial telephone based interview with each of the seven candidates, he felt four candidates were of excellent calibre and was keen to meet with them in the first instance.

The four candidates selected met the MD at head office. Three of the four were chosen to go to final stage interview and the final selection was made.

This process was concluded over 15 weeks and a successful candidate was universally selected as the best candidate for this key strategic role with SRM. He was offered the role and as his expectations and requirements were clearly prequalified he was delighted to accept the position.

Following the successful candidate's start date, the KB consultant again visited the client to review the assignment process in full and any feedback from SRM, as well as qualifying recruitment requirements for the year ahead.