Case Studies

Major High Street Retailer – Talent Insight


Our client’s major fulfilment centre instructed us to undertake an exercise to understand the organisational design and remuneration of a selection of imminent competitors.

The context is the imminent opening of the East Midland Gateway with planning consent for up to 6,000,000 sq. ft of logistics accommodation, at which our client understand five organisations will be operating out of in the near future.

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Given this new site is within the Retailer’s catchment area, you wish to conduct research into these five organisations to help support your strategic planning on attraction, reward and retention.

Our data should be populated from:

  • Aldi, Amazon, Kuehne+Nagel, Nestle & Shop Direct
  • Their respective existing sites that are the best comparison in terms of equivalent size (and closest to their site location in distance ideally).

Our Impact

International Technology Consultancy – Talent Pipelining


Our client, an Intelligent Automation business in Europe using emerging technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The business comprises three ‘towers’ – RPA, Cognitive Services and Advanced Analysis – and that the area has a significant 3-year growth plan. At present, the business is akin to a ‘start-up’ environment, and the immediate hiring plan is to recruit c.10-15 individuals who can also help stimulate sales as part of their wider remit.

These roles are to be based across the UK, France, Italy and Spain, and given that you have had some success in the UK and France, we are therefore to concentrate on the roles based in Spain and Italy.

Job specifications have been provided and described that there are 5 types of role to focus upon within the table opposite:

In addition to the detail provided in the job specifications, the following were discussed as key search parameters during our recent conference call:

  • The role levels are typically Consultant to Senior Consultant
  • Geographically, Avanade has key offices in Madrid, Malaga & Barcelona (Spain) and Milan, Florence & Rome (Italy) – whilst it will be interesting to learn the talent pools within these
    cities, we should focus our search nationwide given that the appointees will naturally travel to client sites across the country
  • Candidates will ideally have relatively strong pre-sales experience as well as the associated client interface and presentation skills (the role will ultimately become delivery but given
    the start-up scenario, individuals who can help build a book of business will be sought after)
  • Permanent hires preferred but will you also consider contractors
  • RPA roles: experience in Automation tools such as Blue Prism, UI Path, Automation Anywhere or NICE
  • Cognitive roles: experience of Microsoft Cognitive Services capabilities on Azure and other platforms like IBM Watson. For the AI / Cognitive Architect, experience in Machine Learning will also be a “nice to have”
  • Main target organisations included the ‘big four’ consultancies such as EY, Deloitte and KPMG and other large technology consultancies as well as smaller local organisations

During the course of the research it became apparent that Cognitive role candidates with IBM Watson technology background were not suitable. Therefore, the search parameters were adjusted to exclude this technology as well as IBM as a target organisation. It was also advised that the original salary banding quoted at Consultant and Senior Consultant level (31.000€ to 49.000€) was no longer applicable, and a revised top salary for any level candidate was 35.000€ in Italy. The early indications during the research showed that candidates with the desired level of relevant experience seemed to be above the annual maximum salary of 35.000€. This was especially apparent when looking at the main target organisations such as KPMG and Deloitte.

Executive Summary Spain

Talent Acumen identified a total of 153 candidates across the RPA roles.

  • Most candidates had not heard of Avanade prior to Talent Acumen approaching them, but were very familiar with Accenture and Microsoft.
  • 82 conversations were held with 55 not interested in the roles. The main reasons for not being interested in the roles were that most have only been in their roles a short while (or in the middle of a project) and therefore not looking to make a move at this present time as well as being happy in their roles.
  • Main hot spots for RPA talent in Spain were found to be Madrid and Barcelona – this was both apparent whilst identifying candidates as well as from the feedback gathered from conversations. In some cases when looking at near shore centres, Malaga and Alicante were mentioned.
  • Candidates did not seem to have many years of experience in RPA and were already working in roles such as Technical Consultant with 1 to 2 years of RPA experience, and some even with less than a year. This is especially apparent in the big consultancies such as Deloitte.
  • Overall the RPA talent in Spain seem to be very junior in terms of years of experience in relation to their salary and level.
  • Findings from the research indicate that the average salary level for a RPA candidate with 2 years of experience is 40.000€.
  • The research shows that the most popular RPA tools used are UiPath and BluePrism. Other tools mentioned by candidates included Nice, Winshuttle
  • Automation Anywhere and Workfusion as well as some new small tools such as RPA Suite (windows platform) by Rigel Technologies.
  • Most candidates who are interested are looking for career progression and better salaries, as well as opportunities where they can upskill and develop.
  • A total of 19 CV’s and cover letters were submitted for Avanade’s consideration.

Executive Summary Italy

Talent Acumen identified a total of 73 candidates for the RPA Architect role, 83 for Data Scientist and 106 for Cognitive Service Architect roles.

  • Some candidates had heard of Avanade but were more familiar with Accenture and Microsoft.
  • A total of 113 conversations were held in Italy and 46 were not interested in the roles. The main reasons for not being interested in the roles were that most have only been in their roles a short while (or in the middle of a project) and therefore not looking to make a move at this present time as well as being happy in their roles.
  • Main hot spots for RPA talent in Italy were found to be Milan and Rome. Milan was also found to be the main hot spot for Cognitive Architect candidates, which was both apparent while identifying candidates as well as from the feedback gathered from conversations.
  • Candidates were found not to have many years of experience in the RPA field and already working in roles such as Technical Consultant. Many of these candidates were very junior and had around 1 to 2 years of RPA experience and some even with less than a year.
  • Findings suggest that Avanade’s base salary limit of 35.000€. would attract RPA candidates at a Consultant level and below, with the average Consultant level salary being 34,000€. It was also found that Cognitive Architect candidates at consultant level were already above the annual salary of 35,000€. in consultancies such as KPMG and Deloitte to name but a few. Talent Acumen recommends offering training for more junior candidates or raising the salary banding.
  • Main pull factors were Learning and Development (new technologies), Career Progression, Interesting Projects and International opportunities.
  • A total of 17 CV’s and cover letters were submitted across the 3 roles for Avanade’s consideration.

Most of the individuals spoken with had none or some basic knowledge of the client.

Perception of client

Basic knowledge included the link between our client with Microsoft and Accenture. Some saw the business more technology focused than a consultancy. However, there was very little known on the whole about the business in both Spain and Italy.

There were no negative perceptions of our client or the roles in general. The client as a brand is viewed positively, and most candidates had their interest peaked by the possibility of working on Microsoft technologies, International work opportunities and being backed up by Accenture.

I had never heard of this business prior to our conversation but after researching the company, it looks very impressive.

Major Healthcare Provider – Talent Pipelining and Succession Planning

What can we do for you

Talent Search

  • Hiring key talent for an immediate need
  • Quality hires at a reduced cost and time to hire
  • Added-value intelligent market insight
  • Often niche skill-sets or ‘hard to fill’ roles
  • Thorough market coverage, leaving no stone unturned in your search for the right individual

Talent Pipelining

  • Multiple hires within one transparent project fee
  • A candidate pool for you to tap into as part of your succession planning
  • Added-value intelligent market insight
  • Pre-qualified candidates that can be quickly moved into the active recruitment process
  • An understanding of candidate motivation, mobility, perception and remuneration – the power of being in the know

Talent Insight

  • Organisational Design – an understanding of a functional structure, key personnel, reporting lines and locations
  • Remuneration Surveys – real-time remuneration data within a functional area at the required job level(s)
  • Perception Audits – real-time marketplace data that cuts to the chase, showing you what people really think of your organisation
  • Location Insights – to help focus your mind where the talent is situated

So why are we different… and unique

Recent results … the proof is in the pudding

£1million saving

Our retained agreement since 2016 has saved this Healthcare provider this figure in comparison to utilising expensive search or agency organisations.

Talent Search

Significant hires in the fields of finance, IT, commercial, clinical & operations, saving this Healthcare provider multiple £1000s

Talent Pipelining

100s of appropriate individuals identified & pre-screened, which are this Healthcare provider’s intellectual property for future use with no additional fees

Talent insight

Bespoke projects available to this Healthcare provider in relation to organisational design, external salary benchmarks and best locations for new market entries.


Providing the service this Healthcare provider actually needs… for example where you have the in-house resource to engage with the external marketplace, but just need help finding the right people! This collaborative approach can reduce external spend further.

Placements – Senior Hires

Key selling points

Succession Planning – Board-Level Candidates

Key selling points

Large Retail Business – Head of Private Brands & Innovation


Position overview

The Head of Private Brands & Innovation role will report directly to the Group Commercial Director.

The remit will be responsible for own-brand development, innovation, product packaging (and related CSR). There is a ‘current incumbent’, albeit at a slightly different job-level and we are advised that we must be discreet in the Retail & FMCG sectors, but only needing a NDA-process with those in the immediate industry.

The role is responsible for creative direction & product design. There is a £300k budget towards agencies & artwork design and the appointee will be responsible for a team of c.10 that comprises creative designers, NPD and packaging. It is not expected that a candidate will have packaging experience, as this is not common in the external marketplace.

To summarise, the key selling points will be the opportunity to join a leading-edge business (on a global-level) with aspirations to have 50% own-brand sales – and one which already has very credible brands as well as providing the opportunity to create entirely new brands.

Search Parameters

With regard to an ideal candidate, they will be / have:

  • A Senior Product designer, Senior Product Manager, NPD Controller or Innovation Manager with huge capability and on an upwards career trajectory
  • Own-brand expertise, working in the retail sector (stores preferable to online) or a supplier brand
  • Food or General Merchandise experience – categories are not important, but you will prefer food & home over fashion
  • An ideal candidate will therefore bring simplicity to the role, as well as demonstrate how to create a product but also save a certain % margin
  • Leadership skills; someone who can shape, develop and reinvigorate the team
  • The preference is for a NW-based individual as it is envisaged the appointee will need to be in the NW Head Office regularly and work hand-hand with key stakeholders such as the Buying Director and Supply Chain Director
  • Band C (including basic salary c. £75k). Relocation assistance can be provided if required, but our search is to focus on the immediate region in the first instance

Our Solution – Talent Search

Process – Stages 1 & 2 : Search Identification & Candidate Approach

Process – Stage 3 : Search Analysis Report

We will submit a Search Analysis Report detailing the results of our initial contacting and subsequent discussions.

In addition to providing you with a comprehensive breakdown of everybody approached, this report will also highlight candidate feedback to our approach. This provides clients with significant market data, e.g. insight around:

  • Relevant organisations and associated talent pool
  • Key people & scope of role
  • Current situation & career aspirations
  • Salary indicators
  • Barriers to recruitment
  • Perception of client

This stage also encompasses time towards aiding the client re interview arrangements, and providing subsequent feedback through this process as an intermediary if required.

Our Impact

Project fee – Example rate

Simply call us for free friendly advice on how
we can help you…

David Murphy
Managing Director
+44 (0)7707 808951

Will Betts
+44 (0)113 3450870
+44 (0)7710 492238