Carers Trust is the biggest UK charity for, with and about carers, formed from the merger of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care in 2012. A federated charity with 173 network partners across four nations they provide support, information, advice and services for the millions of people providing unpaid care for a family member or friend.
Two years after their merger they had significantly grown their profile and reputation, and they were now looking for an exceptional and inspirational Chief Executive to cement their position, ensure future sustainability, develop their reach to support an even greater proportion of carers, and continue to drive campaigning activity to enable carers to have greater voice and influence. Due to the complexity of their structure they needed a Chief Executive who could work collaboratively, sustain effective relationships and engage effectively with a wide range of stakeholders (from policy to grassroots levels). They also needed someone who had a proven ability in developing new income streams and could bring a degree of entrepreneurialism and innovation to the role.
As the outgoing Chief Executive had only been in post for a relatively short period of time the organisation was anxious about this premature departure but acknowledged that it was also an opportunity to build on the consolidation that had happened post merger and introduce a slightly different skill set to now build and evolve ‘one organisation’ going forward. Peridot Partners was invited to work in partnership with Carers Trust on this crucial appointment. We were selected as the client felt that our values and approach set us apart and we were prepared to challenge on unrealistic timescales which would have compromised the efficacy of the process.
Working closely with the Chair and recruitment committee we devised a broad programme of briefings to ensure we captured a holistic view of the complexity of the federated structure and also gain insight into what had been achieved post-merger, but also where the organisation now wanted to go. It was important to engage key stakeholders in the organisation from Network Partners, senior managers, partners and trustees to ensure we could understand the demands and expectations of the role, but also reflect our findings back to the recruitment committee to highlight differences of view and arrive at a profile that everyone agreed on. Issues relating to carers is currently a zeitgeist issue so we were sure to engage more broadly in policy areas which were effecting and being affected by the work of Carers Trust and other organisations within their space. We also ensured we were clear about the reasons for the relatively premature departure of the outgoing Chief Executive and the opportunity this now presented.
Drawing together our insight we helped to devise comprehensive candidate information and create a compelling proposition to take to the market. Search played an important part in sourcing candidates, alongside a premium listing in the Guardian, and this focused on areas such as other federal charities, health and social care charities, adult and children’s social care, private health and social care providers. As important to finding the right skill was that we were able to engage candidates who were absolutely committed to the work of Carers Trust – many of the candidates had had personal experience of caring themselves and could therefore identify with their work directly.
Attracting a strong field of current Chief Executives, Chief Operating Officers and Executive Directors bringing experience within national charities (including Federal charities), health, local authorities and private sectors we arrived at a short-list which included the Director of Marketing and Communications within a federated youth organisation; the Chief Executive of a large mental health charity (with extensive trustee experience within federated charities); an Executive Operations Director within a national service delivery and campaigning charity; Chief Executive of a national charity supporting children and young people.
The appointed candidate was Gail Scott Spicer – Director of Marketing and Communications for the Scout Association, who bought considerable marketing, campaigning and service delivery change and development experience in complex membership and federated charities. This was complemented by her considerable ambassadorial, media and stakeholder management expertise. She has also worked with the Royal Household which given the merger with the Princess Royal Trust for Carers the connection with HRH The Princess Royal was integral to the Carers Trust.