place holder

This is a recent example of delivering a challenging programme management/change assignment for an organisation with widespread operational and programme/contract management issues.  The RPA had well-publicised and severe operational problems – not least in IT, contract management and financial control - leading to a damaged reputation amongst stakeholders and Ministers as well as rising infrastructure costs and EU fines for under-performance. 

The challenge was to identify individuals with the ability and credibility to lead an organisation in the public eye, who could deal confidently and assuredly with diverse stakeholders and run an efficient operations and transactions.  The CEO had to build the right culture within the senior management team.  There are some good people at the RPA who are good at their jobs; however the leadership previously had not been strong.  The media message we agreed with the client was to sell the role as an exciting challenge and the personal and professional opportunities it offered.

Our client was the sponsoring department, Defra, and we established a strong partnership from the start with the Director General, Katrina Williams, and her team, as well as the Civil Service Commissioner, to devise a proactive strategy that positively sold the challenges whilst not shying away from the scale of delivery and intense scrutiny the roles will be under.  A key element of the campaign was prioritising the user groups' needs and diverse expectations, and reflecting this in the diversity of our search and the rigour of our candidate assessment.

Managing risk and challenge

  • We worked closely with the client to devise a robust and complete recruitment process that ensured exemplary candidate care throughout; our screening and probing of candidates was intense and focused on ensuring they could withstand the scrutiny that comes both from the appointment process and the role itself.
  • Process began with a comprehensive briefing from the Director General, HR and Civil Service Commissioner.  We also scoped out the Permanent Secretary and Ministerial expectations and engagement that we would be supporting the client with; it was critical to ensure buy-in from the start 
  • The search was research led, deriving from the bespoke brief.  This meant that our search list was over 200 individual contacts, as targets and sourcing.
  • Regular communication and progress updates were provided and our clients made themselves available for issues and candidate queries, which made the partnership element of the assignment all the more effective.
  • Each candidate report and recommendation was clearly aligned to each point of the role description to provide rigorous, transparent, risk-managed analysis

Adding value to the client

Our sourcing strategy was based on:

  • Comprehensive brief and effective stakeholder engagement facilitating creative and diverse search
  • Market testing, benchmarking – potential candidates and concurrent recruitment activity in the market
  • Defining the role to define search parameters – constructive challenge and holistic view of existing membership and organisational challenges
  • Informed, candid and sensitive candidate care, managing their risks and expectations at each stage of the process
  • Transparency, buy-in and communicating key messages to key opinion formers – we were client’s ‘ambassadors’
  • Hand in hand with client throughout – ongoing progress updates, sounding out candidates and sharing feedback

We sourced a high calibre range of candidates with a mix of government and commercial expertise; our search list was over 200 individual contacts.  We agreed a longlist of 6, whom we interviewed in depth, to produce a shortlist of 4 candidates.  All brought exceptional track records. The successful candidate was Mark Grimshaw, who brings a leadership background with the Child Support Agency, Jobcentre Plus and at Board level in the telecoms industry

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