The Railway Industry Association (RIA) required an Operations Manager, initially for six months, but with the potential to extend further.

Based in their London office and working two days a week, they needed a candidate who had the potential to join on a permanent basis, but who was happy to initially undertake a shorter-term commitment, as the role was required to cover another member of staff who was on maternity leave. 


RIA is the voice of the UK rail supply community; the national trade association for UK-based suppliers to the railway industry.

Established in 1875, RIA has over 360 member companies from across the supply chain, over 60% of which are small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Their member companies represent a considerable proportion of the rail industry by turnover, reflect a great diversity of disciplines within the sector, and cover the entire UK.

RIA supports the delivery of a bigger and better rail industry, representing the sector as an essential generator of economic growth, jobs, and investment, while supporting a low carbon form of mass transit for communities across the UK.

Our brief

RIA required a senior operations-focused professional for this flexible role, who was prepared to work on PAYE within IR35. Reporting to the Operations Director, the successful candidate was expected to lead on multiple cross-team strategic IT projects.

Due to the demanding nature of the role, we needed to find candidates with experience at a senior level and the gravitas to lead important time-bound projects.

They would need to have the experience to manage and prioritise their workload around the time available, a strong personality, lots of initiative, and be used to working with tight budgets.

Additionally, and critically, we needed to find candidates who were genuinely committed to working on a part-time basis for the long term, not just as a stopgap until they found permanent employment, and they had to have the flexibility to extend beyond two days a week and increase the term of the arrangement.

Our solution

We interrogated our database of over 15,500 membership sector candidates and advertised broadly to find candidates with the right mix of skills, personality, and personal circumstances.

To ensure that we only provided candidates who were committed to the flexibility required, our interview process was designed so that we were convinced whether each candidate would meet all of RIA’s requirements.

Our thorough search process resulted in the presentation of three ideal candidates who met the RIA’s requirements perfectly.

Our results

Gaynor Pates, Operations Director at RIA said,

“We were looking for true flexibility and a good fit with the team. We needed a management-level person who could drive changes through, amongst a very busy team of strong characters.

“Membership Bespoke sourced a range of CVs and we interviewed three very strong candidates. The successful candidate was the best choice, and they were just finishing their previous contract, so it was perfect timing!

“The person we hired is still with us and we have extended their days per week, to cover other projects that have cropped-up. We hope to keep working with them until our manager returns from maternity leave, and ideally, beyond.

“Thank you for finding the person we needed – they were just what we were hoping for! The contract signing, timesheets, and invoicing were all extremely easy and efficient.”


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