At Hyperion Executive Search, 95% of our clients are growing start-ups and scale-ups. We recruit across the C-level functions for clients around the world. It’s our ability to understand the nuances of a start-up / scale-up environment, plus sector expertise, that sets us apart.

Within my Energy Storage focus, I often help clients who have a great tested technology, fresh investment, and are now embarking on industrialisation. I help them hire key operational leaders (COO / VP Ops) who help them achieve their key scaling objectives.

This is often the “superhero” role in the organisation – they are the right-hand person to the CEO, helping to take care of many of the painstaking aspects of business growth, whether it be strategy, production & technical, sales & marketing and finance & legal.

As a Founder / CEO / Board Member, here are some of the most important things you will need from your COO / VP Operations:

1. Operations expertise: The COO / VP Ops should have a deep understanding of operations and a proven track record in managing complex supply chains, production processes, quality & HSE, and logistics. Even if they have specialists reporting into them, they should have ultimate accountability.

2. Leadership & gravitas: They should be an accomplished leader who will help you strategize and then execute a growth plan, including building/refining the organisational structure, inspiring and motivating cross-functional teams, and recruiting, managing, and developing talent in the company.

3. Technical know-how: They should have a good understanding of the related technology, whether it be directly in batteries/ESS or from wider renewables or manufacturing (automotive, electronics, semiconductors etc).

4. Business acumen: Your COO / VP Ops should have sound commercial understanding to enable their involvement in business development, financial management, and strategic planning. They will represent the company to customers, partners, and investor stakeholders. They should be adept in commercial data analysis to make informed decisions to drive growth and profitability.

5. Problem-solving & change management skills: They should have a proven ability to identify and solve complex business problems (personnel, production bottlenecks, supply chain constraints), but then most importantly, implement effective solutions, and drive change within the organization.

6. Communication skills: Strong verbal and written communication skills are essential. They must be able to communicate effectively with all levels of the organization (particularly important in scale-ups), from fellow executives to junior employees, and externally, with customers, partners, and investors.

7. Zoom in-zoom out mindset: This is particularly important for start-ups who are scaling. The organisation is still relatively small and therefore the COO / VP Ops will need to “get into the weeds” occasionally, but then have the ability to zoom out and have a helicopter, strategic view.

8. Passion for the industry: The COO/ VP Operations is a key face of your organisation and therefore should be passionate about your mission. Ideally they will have prior experience in your target customer segments (EV / E-Mobility, Grid ESS, Residential, C&I etc) but if coming from a wider field, they must stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies and demonstrate credibility.

How am I going to find this superhero you may ask? Do not fret, the Hyperion team and I personally, are here to support you. We have unrivalled experience hiring C-suite / VP level Operational Leaders for Cleantech clients around the world. We invest the necessary time, resources, and know-how into finding this superhero talent for your business. Our clients put their trust in us, as we know where to look, who to select, and how to attract this top talent to join your adventure!


David Beeston