One of the key challenges in the construction industry is that it is insular, and there is often only a small, well-networked group of potential candidates for any one position. The nature of the large contracts and unique business processes means that clients usually want a candidate from within the industry. 

Often, operational and commercial functions are closely linked to the finance function, but not always connected internally. This can pose a real challenge to SMEs, and appointing a Board- or Director-level candidate to address these types of problems is a challenge we regularly face. It takes a candidate with a certain level of gravitas to break down these barriers and instil a harmonious environment of accountability, teamwork and focus with an eye on the goal of business growth.

We have operated in the construction sector for years, and are extremely well-networked in the industry. Our Directors and ‘Heads of’ have credibility and gravitas amongst this relatively small candidate pool, and can often provide our clients with quick, unfettered access to it.

Rowan is acutely sensitive to these challenges, and has an impressive record within the sector.

Engineering and Manufacturing

As anyone running a business in these sectors will know, there has been a historic underinvestment and graduates have been notoriously difficult to attract.  

This manifests itself as a challenge for clients trying to appoint Board- and Director- level candidates, that are still relatively early on in their careers.

To counteract this, we are continually researching the market, engaging and building relationships with future candidates and identifying transferable skills and behaviours of candidates outside of the sector.

We also ensure that we’ve sat down with our client and meticulously covered the key competencies required for the mandate we’ve been briefed on. Often it transpires that it’s acceptable to approach candidates from outside the industry with relevant, transferable skills.

Identifying and assessing these candidates is made easier by the years of experience we collectively have in the sector, and our best-in-class ETP® Executive Assessment tool.

Health and Care

A wide-ranging and varied area of significant importance – both economically and ethically – the health and care industries have always been areas of acute interest to Rowan, particularly in the wake of the global pandemic.

With clients ranging from medical equipment manufacturers to private healthcare providers, the organisations with which Rowan partners in this space are consistently innovating their products and service provision, to ensure that the increasingly complex health and care needs of the nation’s ageing population are covered.

As a result of their specific focus (and subsequently specific people needs) matched with the emotive element of working within this important sector, talent partners for organisations of this nature need to work with a high level of EQ, whilst deploying a robust and quantifiable recruitment process, to ensure the right candidate is secured for their clients, every time.

At Rowan, we understand and appreciate these nuances and have a strong track record of adding value to our clients growth goals across areas such as medical devices, luxury care homes and private hospitals. This is achieved through our experience in the sector as well as our tried and tested executive search and assessment process.

We only work with the best candidates, which is why we take this assessment process so seriously. This includes taking several thorough references, candidate interviews and using Rowan’s specifically-developed ETP® assessment tool.

We’re deeply engrained into many North-West health and care businesses, having made numerous key Board- and Director-level appointments in the sector over the last ten years.

Logistics & Distribution

No sectors are more internationally connected, and thus more affected by international and geopolitical events, than the logistics and distribution sectors.

Brexit, the Covid pandemic and the Suez Canal blockage are just a few examples of events that created real challenges in the industry; legislative issues, retention of drivers, hold-ups with containers crossing borders and more. 

However, there are also ‘business as usual’ issues that we regularly see; language barriers, various customs and standard practices in different countries, fluctuating labour costs etc.

When working on senior mandates for SMEs in this industry, we ensure that our research team works hard to ensure it stays up to date with industry trends and current affairs/news, and we build questions into our candidate interviews that test our potential appointees’ knowledge of these issues, and how they may affect the job. 

It takes a strong personality and an experienced pair of hands to succeed at Board or Director level in an SME, and the logistics and distribution industries are no different. When we send you a shortlist, you can rest assured that our best-in-class ETP® assessment methodology has evaluated whether the candidates we present have the requisite knowledge, experience and cultural fit to succeed in your organisation.

Professional Services

In this sector, candidates usually need specific qualifications (ACA, RICS, LPC etc), and there is always more demand than there is supply.

When working on mandates in the professional services sector, it’s usually not too difficult to figure out who the qualified candidates are, as most professional bodies have member lists and candidates themselves display qualifications on their CVs – candidate attraction is the key challenge.

We’re Executive Search experts, but in order to attract candidates in the PS sector, we often have to display a certain level of credibility expertise in their particular industry. This can’t be faked or even learnt over a number of weeks or months. Our consultants have years of experience, and the gravitas to deliver successfully on almost all Board- and Director-level appointments in the Professional Services Sector.

Rowan differs from other Executive Search businesses by actively employing senior staff from Professional Service organisations. Mark Fahy and Johnathan Massey have come to Rowan after long and successful careers in industry, and are now bolstering our capabilities in the Professional Services sector, amongst others.

Retail & E-commerce

Whilst these are two distinct industries, most traditional retailers have an e-commerce offering, meaning that there are a multitude of candidates with experience in both.

When working on senior retail mandates, we always take care to research the market thoroughly and stay on top of buyer trends, growing brands and key movers in these fast-changing sectors.

We always ensure that we are working with candidates with multi-site experience. This is key, as almost all retail businesses involve liaising with staff across multiple locations, often with different sized stores and facing different challenges. 

Another key consideration is whether the candidates we are looking to shortlist have the right cultural fit for the sector. Retail businesses employ a large number of low-paid and often casual workers, and this presents a different proposition than working in a solely ‘white-collar’ environment. Professional competence and a successful track record is always important, but as we say here at Rowan; “it’s all about the people” – the ability to communicate effectively with all stakeholders and employees within an organisation is critical.

The challenges in the e-commerce sector are numerous; aside from the challenges faced with distribution, candidates need to be well-versed in the use of technology as a retail platform, and fulfilment models. 

Our professional research team knows this, and ensures that it stays on top of the latest industry trends, technologies and fulfilment methods, as well as having a detailed understanding of the candidate pool and key appointments. 

Aside from shortlisting candidates with experience and credentials in the sector, we always take care to find the right cultural fit, as all e-commerce brands rely heavily on their perceived image in the market.


Technology Search and Assessment is an ever-increasing part of Rowan’s portfolio of work, as the sector continues to go from strength to strength.

When asked to work on senior appointments in this sector, we know that we need to find candidates with the ability to work in a fast-paced and dynamically changing environment, and usually a thorough understanding of SaaS metrics.

Appointing senior talent is always challenging, but in the Tech market, retaining that talent can also be difficult. There are myriad new, exciting start-ups willing to offer incentives like equity, flexible working, high salaries etc. 

Here at Rowan, we meticulously assess candidates’ career motivations, personal attitude towards seeing a project through and general longevity in previous businesses, and only introduce candidates to our clients that can not only do the job, but have the best chance of staying with the company.