Technological innovation is driving an industry in transition

Despite political, economic and regulatory uncertainty post Brexit, there are still good opportunities for growth in the transportation sector, here in the UK, as demand for the movement of people and goods continues to grow. However, escalating costs coupled with aggressive competition from emerging markets means, to take advantage, the challenge for today’s leaders is to do more with less. Developing businesses that are leaner and more agile will be a prerequisite for sustaining growth and profitability going forward.

Whether it is a shift in focus towards emerging markets in Asia, India and the Far East, mergers and acquisitions, competition from technology-driven disruptors, privatisation and shifting regulatory environments, or consumer demand for new and innovative products, change and uncertainty are compounding already complex operating environments. Technology is changing everything. Fast! From AI, automation and data analytics to mobile connectivity and the Internet of Things, implementing technological innovation is already providing progressive organisations with a competitive advantage, reducing costs, improving operational efficiency and delivering an enhanced consumer experience.

In an uncertain, rapidly innovating environment, there is high demand for strong, internationally experienced leaders in technology, finance and change management. This is why, increasingly, organisations in this sector are looking to partner with people-resource experts, like Seymour John, to develop talent strategies to secure the leadership pipeline.

Seymour John is a proven, strategic partner for high impact talent management in the following subsectors: 

  • Aviation, aerospace & defence
  • Automotive
  • Transportation & logistics
Aviation, aerospace & defence

This sector continues to make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Consolidation through partnering, mergers and acquisitions are helping control costs and mitigate risk for many. While this is helping maintain the status quo, the pressure from investors for sustainable growth will only be satiated through innovation and evolution. Complex, global businesses require exceptional internationally experienced leaders. Succession planning is business critical. Increasingly, our People and Change practice is working with organisations in this sector to identify and develop the next generation of leaders, from within.


Again, progressive airlines are looking to technology to improve efficiency and drive down costs. What was, until recently, only science fiction is becoming a present reality. AI in conjunction with predictive data analytics are being utilised as virtual travel assistants; biometrics are being trialled to improve security and speed up check-in and boarding; robotic baggage handlers are being trialled in some European airports; and the Internet of Things continues to expand, improving passenger experience as well as safety. To keep ahead of the curve, organisations need the best tech talent. However, the extensive deployment of digital technology across all industry sectors means competition for their services is fierce.

Aerospace & defense

The future for the aerospace and defense industry is looking positive. As more people fly, the demand for commercial aircraft continues to rise and, amid threats to national security and significant unrest around the world, govenrments are committing to increased spending on next generation defense technology. In a subsector where the cost of research and development is massive, collaborative, cross-discipline working has long been the norm. International co-operation and partnering of different expert organisations help mitigate risk, but also increase complexity and challenge. Today’s aerospace and defense leaders not only need to be politically astute collaborators, they also need to be ‘experts’ across a raft of disciplines.


The automotive industry is in a state of flux. Regulatory and consumer pressure for safer, more environmentally sound vehicles is driving innovation as is demand for in-vehicle connectivity and info-tainment. This kind of research and development requires large investment. Offering a good return on that investment is business critical. However, demand from emerging and ethically motivated markets remains high, providing opportunities for continued growth. For OEMs, the challenge is to maintain margins whilst offering value to both customers and investors. For their suppliers, it is to maintain quality, whilst being squeezed on cost.

The number of mergers and acquisitions in this sector has never been higher as organisations look to cut costs and mitigate risk through consolidation. In the same vein, we predict a move towards collaborative partnerships as OEMs and suppliers share the financial burden of development. Making the right strategic partnerships and investments will be crucial as the industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. It is why many organisations are looking for business-critical decision makers who are from technology and finance backgrounds. As people-resouce experts in these functional areas, Seymour John works with leading OEM and suppliers across the UK to support and develop their strategic talent plans, empowering them to meet their specific business objectives.

Transport & Logistics

A continuing rise in the demand for the movement of people and goods continues to offer opportunities for growth in this sector, although there are challenges, not least the increasingly rigorous regulation around safety and environmental impact. As previously state-run operations are privatised, new markets continue to open up.

From drone deliveries to driverless convoys, this sector is set for significant change. Its future will belong to the technologically astute. Real time end-to-end tracking of goods is just the start. Whether it is in the warehouse or applied to fleet maintenance, progressive organisations are experimenting with automation to increase efficiency and bring down costs. And then there is the wider exploration of autonomous vehicle technology. From Airbnb-style approaches to ‘shared’ warehouse space to cloud-based operating platforms that enable the most cost-effective co-ordination of the entire door-to-door journey of goods, disruptors are developing new operating models that are changing the game.

Recent surveys suggest the majority of traditional transport and logistics businesses are lagging behind, unsure in which technologies to invest. At the very least, carriers will need to keep pace with the technological capabilities of their customers. It is the companies who are able to attract and retain the visionary, tech-savvy leaders – who can spot the opportunity and negotiate the necessary cultural change – that will steel a march. With this kind of talent in demand across all industry sectors, organisations need a people-resource ally that is able to tap into extensive networks to ensure they can attract and retain the right people to ensure sustainable growth and profitability.