As an FE College and social enterprise, City College Brighton and Hove is situated in the top five cities in the UK for private sector job creation and digital connectivity. Brighton and Hove also has a high rate of business start-ups and unlike most coastal towns it has a growing population of young people.
Enjoying high levels of student satisfaction and positioned as a key strategic partner in the Brighton with regards to skills, training and workforce development, as well as having a high performing Governing Body, the college enjoys many advantages. However, as is the situation for most colleges it is not immune to the significant funding challenges and the impacts of changing policy drivers facing the sector. As a result City College was looking to appoint an entirely new senior leadership team, moving outside sector norms and configuring a team which included: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Principal. This was deliberately defined to enable the organisation to adapt and transform to drive sustainability and growth whilst keeping a keen focus on high quality teaching, learning and curriculum development. The Governors were looking for bold and transformative leaders from both within and beyond the further education (FE) sector to drive the future direction and optimise the potential of the college.
Peridot Partners was appointed through a competitive process to support the appointments panel in defining a compelling search and selection campaign to attract a diverse range of leaders for these positions. We were selected not only for our experience and track record in attracting and selecting diverse leaders for organisations within the social enterprise/charity sectors, but also for our understanding of their culture and ethos, and, as importantly, our experience in effectively engaging students in the recruitment process. City College is committed to putting students at the centre of all they do and this was an important consideration.
Assigning a dedicated recruitment team, Peridot worked with the appointments panel and key stakeholders (including staff, students, and community and private sector partners) to define a specially designed search strategy for each role which traversed the FE, private, charity and public sectors. For the CEO and COO roles the brief was to go beyond the FE sector to find talented individuals who had led growth and change (including M&A and restructure), partnership development, income diversification and who possessed keen commercial and financial acumen. This was complemented by a bespoke advertising and candidate attraction campaign. We also advised and designed a rigorous selection process including several stages of interviews, incorporating key stakeholder involvement and psychometric assessment; this was vital to ensure we were assessing the fit of individuals and the team dynamics.
Working in partnership with the College, we successfully appointed to all three roles as follows:
Chief Executive – Nick Juba. Nick was a Director at the University of the Arts where he led on significant development of commercial income streams. He was also the Chair of Northbrook College where he led significant change and transformation. His earlier career was in the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency where he drove a major transformation in their programme of national qualifications.
Chief Operating Officer – Jon Rollings. Jon was the Director of Finance and Corporate Resources at Northbrook College where he took the college from inadequate to outstanding financial health and was part of a senior team that transformed the college, leading on a substantial estates rebuild. He has been a key player in the Sussex and Surrey Shared Services Company.
Principal – Sharon Collett. Sharon was Vice Principal Academic and Student Affairs at Bournemouth and Poole College where she transformed teaching, learning and assessment, built a highly successful apprenticeships programme and spearheaded international student development.
Julie Nerney, Chair of the Governing Body says:
“Peridot were the perfect partner for this assignment. The rare opportunity to appoint an entire Executive Team provided an added dimension of the team dynamic to the usual recruitment process. From the moment Peridot came to pitch for the work, through to the follow up and discussions with both successful and unsuccessful candidates, they operated as true partners with us – understanding what we wanted and needed, and doing all they could to deliver that. They brought their unique perspective on the value of various stages of the process to meet our requirements so that us working together was truly greater than the sum of our respective parts. Their values were demonstrated not just in their approach but also in their actions, with additional support for students involved in the selection process. This not only enabled them to feel confident in their contribution to the recruitment process but also provide valuable guidance to them in their own applications for work. The outcome of our work together was a truly talented, symbiotic and appropriate Executive Team for the needs of our organisation now and in the future.”
Other feedback from Governors:
Joy Mercer: I thought Grant was particularly impressive in the CEO interviews. Kept their deadlines and good summaries provided. Good insight provided at the actual interview. I think they took the graft out of the procedure for us. I liked the process of long and shortlisting with in the main good insight and summaries.
Sal Wilson: I thought the team fielded was great, very easy to work with, skilled and insightful. Not at all the Recruitment agency reputation of ‘estate agents for people’! They complemented the internal team well, getting a good balance between challenge, support and a different perspective. They also totally got our ethos which is crucial. I thought the value of the tools and Angela’s analysis were exceptionally useful. I would have no hesitation in recommending them highly to others.