Hiring the Right Technology Leader as a Scaling Manufacturer

Hiring the Right Technology Leader as a Scaling Manufacturer
Hiring the Right Technology Leader as a Scaling Manufacturer

Manufacturing companies continue to react to the supply chain disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The supply chain issues involve dealing with pent up market demand, as well as discovering the complexities in enabling an organization to scale. Manufacturing leaders have seen the business fallout from companies’ inability to scale when unforeseen events create a surge in production.

As a result, CEOs, boards of directors and Private Equity investors at manufacturing companies now look to technology leaders to develop and execute a roadmap to leverage technology solutions to improve the efficiency and agility of its operations. The first thing they must do is bring in the right technology leader, with the right experience and skills to take the company where it needs to go.

This is a big investment. Effective hiring is crucial to ensure a company can achieve its goals and be profitable. So, how do you make sure you hire the right leaders with the right skillset?

1. Technology leadership in building an IT strategy and roadmap for scale with proven execution experience.

This is end-to-end IT leadership. The candidates you consider should have experience leading all areas of IT in a company that has scaled. If this company grew through acquisition, you want someone who has M&A integration experience. If the company grew through geographic expansion, you want to identify people who have worked in global environments. Planning on expanding the product line? The candidate should have experience supporting R&D and innovation. No matter what the growth story is, you want this person to be talking about a scalable, microservices architecture, automation, supply chain optimization and real time data to bring metrics and predictive analytics to the organization.

2. Influence and change management

While technology can solve many problems in the business, supply chain and operations, it will inevitably change business processes and systems.  You can have the best technology strategy and roadmap to enable scale in the world, but if your technology leader lacks influence and the ability to get buy in from stakeholders at all different levels in the organization, the adoption of the roadmap is likely to fail. To vet this in candidates, ask them to describe situations in which they influenced a business to adopt something new, or to change something that resulted in a positive business outcome. The right IT leader isn’t implementing technology for the sake of technology, they are doing it to solve a business problem or to create new value.

3. Strong team leadership

IT leaders must evaluate their teams and ensure there is organizational alignment to strategic goals. A great IT leader will be effective at fostering a culture in IT where even the most technical person on the team understands how their role impacts the business.

4. Strategic and hands on

Whether this person is leading large or small teams, an IT leader that is driving significant technology changes must be both strategic and hands on. Just how hands on the person needs to be is determined by several factors, but the selected hire needs to have credibility with the most technical members of their team.

In manufacturing, underinvestment in infrastructure and technology in general challenges organizations trying to scale in effective and efficient ways. The right technology leader will develop and execute a technology strategy that provides, with data, insight across the manufacturing business and on how to optimize operations. They will enable analytics to maximize throughput, optimize the supply chain to enable scale and improve labor productivity. They will bring IT and OT together and deliver benefits across the manufacturing value chain.

Over the last several years, the role of the technology leader in manufacturing has moved from a support role to a strategic change agent who will have lasting impact on your business.  Technology leaders are part technologist, part business leader, and part evangelist, and it can be challenging to find the right blend with the right cultural fit. But by spending some up front time to understand the profile you need at this stage on your company’s growth, you can hire a leader who will have a game changing impact on your employees, shareholders and customers.

About The Author

Brittany Jeeves is senior principal at Heller Search Associates. Heller Search is a top IT executive recruiting firm specializing in CIOs, CTOs, VP level senior technology leaders and executive technology talent.

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