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Building a high-performance leadership team enabled an Oxford University spin-out to achieve a successful exit to Mercedes-Benz

YASA is a true scaleup success story. Spun out of Oxford University, the business was founded to develop and commercialise its pioneering axial flux technology, creating highly innovative powertrain solutions for the electric vehicle market.

We have been proud to partner with YASA in building out the company’s leadership team both ahead of – and beyond – its acquisition by Mercedes-Benz in 2021.



  • 2017 – YASA raises £15m in new funding to support expansion of the team and manufacturing facilities

  • 2018 – YASA opens a 100,000-unit-per-annum e-motor serial production facility near Oxford

  • 2019 – YASA secures a further £18m in funding from investors including Parkwalk Advisors, Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), Universal Partners, and Inovia Capital

  • 2019 – YASA announces Ferrari as its first OEM customer

  • 2020 – YASA continues to scale and begins working with Upscale Partners in the build-out of its senior team alongside ramping up to volume production

  • 2021 – YASA becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz

A Team Built for Success

Our collaboration with YASA began at an exciting time in the company’s trajectory.

By 2020, the business had secured two long-term development and supply agreements with customers in the premium automotive sector and had closed a European OEM deal that would see YASA transition to volume production.

As such, it was vital for the company to put in place the right structure and people to facilitate rapid expansion. Furthermore, YASA needed the strength and depth of talent for a robust succession plan that would ensure continued growth following the Mercedes acquisition.

Approach + Strategy

To date, we have worked with YASA on six key hires.

For each appointment, we have operated as an extension of the organisation, deploying a meticulous and methodical search strategy, underpinned by our in-depth knowledge of both the client and the market, to take the YASA opportunity to the widest possible pool of talent.

After researching, engaging with, and interviewing all individuals, we have then presented YASA with a shortlist of high-calibre candidates who possess the skills and experience to take the business to the next level. This process has resulted in a successful hire every time.

Positions filled:

  • Marketing Director

  • Managing Director

  • Engineering Director

  • Operations Director

  • Head of Programmes

  • HR Director

(For further details on the above appointments, please download the PDF of this case study).

“Upscale Partners have been intrinsic to YASA’s scale-up journey.

Through Upscale Partners, we have built a world-class team at pace, bringing in impactful hires that continue to drive and facilitate our growth, now under the ownership of Mercedes.

I have worked with Upscale both as a candidate and a client and, in both capacities, I have been impressed by their service level, expertise, and ability to find and attract the very best.”

Graeme Cook

Managing Director, YASA

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