Transport & Infrastructure: The Challenge for Talent

With the rail sector undergoing significant and wholesale change, the need to have the right skills and capability in place to deliver is more important than ever.

At Norman Broadbent we work across the full spectrum of the rail sector – from the TOCs, ROSCOs and Consultancies to Network Rail and the wider infrastructure sector. Our combination of research and insight enables us to identify a number of common challenges. The biggest are without doubt:

  • Do we have the right people in place to meet the challenges ahead, and;
  • Can we deliver what we need to for our customers and Stakeholders?

The answer to the above is often either “no” or a combination of “yes and no”. This is because our rail industry has been built on engineering and, more broadly, “rail people”. This has created a culture and environment that is slow, inflexible, siloed, and often blinkered in its thinking. So when it comes to embracing new things such as digital innovation and customer service, the sector is generally unprepared from a skills, experience, and even cultural perspective.


In light of this we have been supporting an ever increasing number of clients who are looking to reshape their businesses or organisation from both a structural and people perspective. This has included bringing in talented people from outside of sector to increase a much-needed diversity of thought. We have also seen a real increase in the desire to tackle the gender balance. This, we feel, has been exacerbated by the lack of female role models at the top, rather than by any lack of desire or appetite to change this within the industry.


In light of the above, we’d like to share a case study evidencing Norman Broadbent helping a major global transport business overcome these challenges. In this instance we were able to successfully deploy a range of our service offerings including Search, Leadership Assessment, Board Effectiveness, Competitor and Sector Analysis, Talent Mapping, Learning & Development, and Interim Management.


Our Client had undertaken a structural review of their business and was now looking to reshape it from a people, commercial, digital, and customer experience perspective. Based on their review they were particularly keen to:


  • Understand the strength/depth of their Leadership team and its effectiveness
  • Create and implement a new Target Operating Model to put the customer first
  • Create a robust succession strategy that focussed on both internal and external talent
  • Understand how to create greater innovation, flexibility, and diversity of thought
  • Recruit new roles in areas such as digitalisation

Solution and Outcome

Working closely with the board, we created a solution that delivered the change they were seeking.  Our approach included:

  • Leadership Assessment. We helped them understand the strengths and weaknesses of their senior leadership and, in some cases identified those who could be better utilised
  • Leadership Consulting. We undertook a project to help them better understand the effectiveness of their Board – did Board Members have the skillset to meet the needs of the business, what development needs and gaps were there, and how did this effect the overall effectiveness of the Board?
  • Interim Management. We provided them with an experienced Interim Change & Transformation Director to help develop and implement the new TOM. At the same time, the interim mentored the team to raise their overall calibre
  • Talent Mapping & Succession Planning. Using our Research & Insight capability we completed a pre-search due diligence project for the new roles identified. This informed our Client on the talent landscape, and provided them with valuable business intelligence on how organisations in and outside sector utilised their people. We also used our Research & Insight capability to aid their succession planning through the mapping of talented and experience candidates within key roles that had been identified as having poor succession internally
  • Permanent Recruitment. Utilising the insight gained and the candidates highlighted as part of the mapping process, we were able to provide our Client with a very strong shortlist at speed across a number of roles.

The outcome of this was that our Client reshaped their business from a people, effectiveness, and operations perspective so that it was fit for purpose and the future.


If you would like to discuss how Norman Broadbent could help you overcome your business or people challenges, please do not hesitate to contact us for an initial and confidential conversation. For more details contact Nick Behan on +44 (0) 0207 484 0106 or at