Recruitment of an R&D Director in the Aeronautics and Defence sector


Recruitment of an experienced R&D Director to support the transformation from manufacturer to Tier-One in the aeronautics and defence sector

Issues : Preparing for succession, Transforming the business
Sectors : Industry
Services : Executive Search


The group is a European mechanical engineering company with several sites in Europe, each employing between 500 and 1,000 people. It is one of the world leaders in its field.

One of its French factories is specialised in the production of critical sub-assemblies, which are technologically highly sophisticated and made to customer specifications, produced in small batches or by the unit. The company’s management, in the wake of its make or buy strategic reflection, has decided to transform the site into a true supplier with comprehensive capabilities. The company is investing in a brand-new R&D centre for the site.

The site’s BE teams are made up of more than 100 people. The transformation required strong skills: technical management of studies as part of projects, but also guidance of the transformation of the teams which, focused on their expertise, were not very open to change. The group did not have a suitable manager internally.

Eurosearch & Associés involvement

The group boasts a good brand image and its products are technically very appealing to engineers.

The position’s requirements were quickly defined and fell in line with an R&D Director who, together with the Industrial Director and the Site Manager, makes up the trio that manages the site and focuses on the transformation.

The difficulties included:

  • Location in a pleasant region but far from university towns
  • The rate of remuneration envisaged, which was lower than the market price for such a senior position
  • The very slow decision-making process by the Chair, which deterred candidates and pushed them towards other paths


A shortlist of three external candidates was presented after two months. Two internal candidates were assessed at the client’s request, without success.

The three external candidates identified all had the targeted profile. The first had strong potential but lacked the required experience. The second had the skills sought at the right rate of pay, but his personality did not appeal to the Chair. The third candidate had the experience required but was too expensive.

In the end, the candidate chosen was the one who was most expensive. He ensured the highest chances of success for a strategic challenge on which the site’s survival depended. He also had potential to progress in the group.

It was necessary to find a solution in terms of remuneration that would be both appealing to the candidate and compatible with the management’s wage policy. Eurosearch & Associés was proactive in reaching the best possible arrangement.

The candidate joined the company nine month’s after the assignment started, with high expectations from all parties.