Are you on the hunt for a senior leader or decision-maker who will make a real difference in your transport organisation? Or are you curious about tapping into an unexplored talent pool when hiring for your next opportunity?

Today, finding the right person for a high-level role in transport goes far beyond years of experience in the sector. Leading organisations are discovering the value that diverse career backgrounds can bring and are benefiting from the best digital-first thinkers, agile operators, and authentic communicators as a result.

We’ve compiled the top five in-demand transferable skills relevant to the transport sector, as observed when supporting our transport clients with their executive search and interim recruitment needs.

1. They’ll be resilient solution-makers

As a sector in constant motion, entwined with the movements of society and subject to conditions often outside its control, transport will always face obstacles. So, transport needs leaders who are solutions-focused, and expertly balance logic with dynamic thinking, to immediately handle challenges and minimise problems before they occur. Even if they haven’t got sector experience, look for candidates who have proof of being fast on their feet and resilient to disruption. But more importantly, candidates who thrive on fluidity and solving problems. Those with backgrounds in communications, utilities, and IT will have honed their solution-oriented instincts.

2. They’ll be skilled mediators

The nature of the transport sector means that it is heavy on people. And these people are responsible for – and defend the best interests of – a huge number of processes, assets, and legal obligations. Coordinating many people and their priorities can cause conflict, which if not directly and empathetically addressed will inevitably have an effect on performance and passenger service. Candidates with experience in conflict management, and those coming from sectors where large-scale personnel coordination is the norm, such as retail and healthcare, will have the pragmatism and mediation qualities essential to leading in transport.

3. They’ll be technology cheerleaders

From achieving net-zero to growing passenger numbers and streamlining operations, a profitable, sustainable future for transport rests on digitally transforming, and fast. As such, the regular introduction of new technology, and novel ways of using digital to solve problems, is becoming commonplace in the sector. Leaders and decision-makers will need to embrace digital transformation and have excellent technological literacy to effectively advocate for and realise results from digital innovation. Candidates from tech-oriented environments, or sectors undergoing rapid digital transformation such as finance and utilities, will be a natural fit for transport’s innovation challenges.

4. They’ll own accountability

Transport is almost organic in how it operates, with clear, codependent cycles and chains that quickly crumble if one link breaks. From timetabling to safety resourcing and infrastructure maintenance, transport leaders must own decisions that often stem from unforeseen circumstances. This means that accountability, and the ability to make well-informed decisions against the clock, is one of the most important skills demanded by the sector. An ideal transport candidate will have experience of tangible accountability as part of a tight operational chain, such as those with distribution, medical or food manufacturing backgrounds.

5. They’ll put relationships first

Transport serves every demographic of society, and every day, leaders will interact with colleagues in all manner of diverse roles, and from all walks of life. As such, that not-so-common ability to make an instant connection with everyone you encounter is highly sought after in transport leaders. Being a people person is as much of a commercial benefit as a cultural one. Keeping the delicate chain of transport operations in play is a group effort and building strong relationships with a team from bottom to top will ensure effective leadership. Candidates coming from the public and third sectors will have a lived appreciation of the power of connection.

Ready to experience search consultancy that truly understands you? Intuitive would love to hear from you. View our brochure here to learn about the candidate experience and hear from senior leaders whom we have placed in executive positions.

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