Appointed with the task of identifying a hands-on, visionary, and experienced finance leader, NGS Global found the perfect candidate who matched the client brief exactly.

BACKGROUND

Our client was a publicly held mobility company, specializing in public transportation for one of the biggest cities in Germany. Operating an extensive network of trains, trams, buses, and ferries, the company’s 2,000 employees ensure that more than 150 million passengers per year travel well, safely, and on time. 

Key quality features of the city-wide service include a dense network, short intervals, modern vehicles, barrier-free stops and comprehensive information that is easy to understand. More than 60% of the funding for the organization is provided by the city’s government, and less than 40% is generated from ticket sales.

At the time of the search, there were two general public transport trends taking place across Germany:

1. A huge emphasis was being placed on increasing the adoption and use of sustainable mobility. Post-COVID, public transport was becoming increasingly popular, with political leaders pushing for the sector’s quality to be strengthened.

2. As part of this push, a flat rate travel ticket of 49 Euros per month had been introduced, which allowed people across the country to travel on regional trains within Germany, as well as all local public transportation, including buses, U-Bahn (subways), S-Bahn (suburban railways), and trams.

THE NEED

Our client was looking for a Head of Finance, who would be responsible for the stable and forward-looking management of the organization’s finances. The focus was on sustainability, both in terms of long-term profitability and the company’s self-image as a mobility provider shaping the future in a dynamic market environment, characterized by technological innovations, social and ecological issues, and scarce financial resources.

This was a succession role, but within the context of the broader German public transport sector trends described above, some of the role’s responsibilities had been strengthened, and there were some newly defined aspects to the position.     

Of particular importance was strengthening the company as successful, efficient, and entrepreneurially managed; modernization and optimization of work processes; and far-sighted management of investments and reinvestments to ensure the long-term development of the company. 


OUR SEARCH PROCESS

The search came with two main challenges:

1. As a public enterprise, remuneration was 25% less than a similar role in the private sector

2. The location of the city was in quite a remote part of Germany.

A nuanced pitch was therefore required which encapsulated the broader lifestyle advantages and the ethical satisfaction of contributing meaningfully to an important municipality.   

We initially searched for candidates that had a strong and demonstrable connection to the mobility sector, across all of Germany. This proved successful, to the point where a very strong candidate from a mobility start-up was in final conversations with us and the client. However, just when things were being finalized, the candidate reneged, citing a lack of desire to move to the city.  

Subsequently, we pivoted and relaunched the search with new parameters and emphasis, searching for candidates from all industries, not just mobility. Despite the set-back with the original finalist candidate, we were able to very quickly generate considerable interest and momentum from a very high-caliber list of experienced finance leaders, now from other industries and mainly from the private sector.

OUTCOME

Our client is exceedingly pleased with the candidate we found and secured for the position. He is able to provide end-to-end leadership for the finance function, having previous extensive experience managing a team of more than 50 employees at a manufacturer of household appliances. With an exceptional command of P&L, revenue, and forecasting responsibilities, he had the right mix of strategic vision and willingness to be hands-on. He was particularly strong with controlling, which was one of the key focus areas for our client.  

Moreover, for private reasons he was proactively looking to move to the city, where his wife was already based.  

OUR NGS GLOBAL VALUE-ADD

 - Despite the salary and location challenges of the search, we identified the right candidate, delivering a perfect outcome for the client 

 - Our agility meant that when the first candidate pulled out, we were able to pivot quickly and effectively, working closely and trustfully with the client to change the parameters of the search to deliver an exceptional outcome 

 - Our knowledge and experience working with an extensive list of public sector transport companies meant that we knew the client’s culture and needs very well

 - This was our third search for the company, so we had built up a considerable degree of both trust and confidence with the board and leadership team – even when the first candidate pulled out. 

 

Contact Stephan Füchtner (Project Lead)

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