12th February 2015

Life After A Founder Decides To Move On – Recruiting A Successor

I read with interest the article ‘The perils of founder’s syndrome’ in last week’s Third Sector highlighting some of the recent acrimony and controversy surrounding recent founders’ departures from ShelterBox, Beat Bullying et al. The article was also quite clear to outline some of the more positive examples of founder-led charities, but it made me reflect on the hold many founders have on their organisations and the impact this can have on how the charity prepares and thinks about the recruitment of their successor when that time comes. We have supported a number of charities at this time. It can be an emotionally charged event and sometimes met with fear and trepidation; largely driven by the fact the founder and charity are more often than not inextricably linked, and succession planning is sometimes difficult to put in place with a strong founder at the helm. Whilst those organisations who are clear about their strategy and the skills they’re going to need for the future (often very different from that of the founder), will be able to focus on what comes next, often the natural inclination is to revert to a similar type of individual as the founder; I guess we’re […]
29th December 2014

Trusteeship is life enhancing not a life sentence!

I was quite disheartened to read the recent article in Third Sector claiming trusteeship can be like a life sentence as charities ‘struggle’ to find new trustees.  This is a rather out dated and pessimistic view and the experience of being a trustee should be life enhancing not a life sentence! Charities really don’t need to be in the position of holding on to trustees in fear of not finding suitable replacements. This is neither healthy for the individual nor for the organisation; it is important to refresh and renew trustees and to align skills, expertise and behaviours of trustees to the changing needs and challenges of an organisation as it evolves. To do this charity’s need to regularly review and properly clarify the skills & behaviours they need on their board and think clearly about how they position the opportunity of trusteeship in their organisation – ie what impact you can have as a trustee. Tell a story, make it meaningful and be proactive.  Sure people are going to interested more generally in putting something back but don’t rely purely on people’s benevolence alone. People considering these roles want to feel they can make a difference, be re-assured the […]
1st December 2014

Higher Education Development & Alumni: A proposition for attracting talent for the year ahead

As we draw to the close of what has been a dynamic year for higher education advancement we can take stock and look towards 2015 with optimism.  Many institutes across the UK are well underway in their vision for what their development and alumni teams are going to look like in terms of evolution and growth.  Now comes the challenging part – How? Recruiting and retaining talented people is critical to the success of advancement.  This is set against the backdrop of a challenging recruitment market with a shortage of candidates.  This last year has shown an increase in a desire to recruit the best fundraisers who are tried and tested within higher education, so your best people are likely to be approached fairly regularly about new opportunities and if they leave, you will have to compete in a highly competitive market to attract high-calibre people with the necessary experience. Ever increasing competition for high-performing fundraisers means that savvy hirers in the coming year will focus on new recruiting approaches and on their employer brand to find a competitive advantage.  Not only may you need to identify talented people working in other sectors and in roles with transferable skills, but […]
27th October 2014

Higher Education Development & Alumni: Talent – Here today, gone tomorrow

The Higher Education Development & Alumni profession in the UK is growing.  Not only that, the sector is at a major crossroads when it comes to creating a vision for the workforce in relation to hiring, developing and retaining talent. Compared to the other global markets such as the United States, the profession is still young.  The sector is however maturing, and with the skills, expertise and knowledge within the UK at the highest it has ever been. This is evidenced by the major income growth recently achieved by many of the leading HE institutions.  This is however in the context of the limited talent that already exists, and even high profile institutions have already experienced difficulties when recruiting certain key roles.  We need alternative means of sourcing individuals in the sector, including graduate programmes at the entry point, creating a clear and attractive ‘career choice’, through to the more senior end and bringing talented people in from outside, particularly from the non-profit and private sectors, both in the UK and further afield. Although there is a challenge in tapping into this potential talent pool, it is almost limitless.  It will however take us time and investment to tackle this, […]
9th September 2014

The Higher Education challenge: Finding talent in a rapidly expanding market

I recently attended the ‘CASE Europe Annual Conference 2014’ in Edinburgh, which took place over three days. The Conference attracted senior professionals across the fields of development, alumni relations, marketing and communications within Higher Education, both from the UK and Europe.  These conferences provide a unique opportunity for professionals within HE, and those who support the sector, to build on their HE knowledge.  Also to meet, network and share ideas.  There were various sessions discussing ideas from principal gifts fundraising through to alumni engagement. However the topic that came up time and time again, both from sessions and through conversations I had with senior leaders, was the issue of sector growth and the need, and indeed the challenge, of attracting talented and experienced development professionals to their organisations. For development teams to be able to increase their income sufficiently in coming years, in order to meet the sector’s ambitious income goals, the workforce needs to at least double.  The key issue is that the demand for experienced professionals, does and will continue to outstrip supply unless we think differently.  Traditionally, I have found that, the HE sector has been generally closed to seeking talent from outside HE, and thus the […]
11th August 2014

A Not for Profit Chief Executive’s guide to writing a CV

To begin with, a disclaimer – CVs come in a multitude of different styles and formats, and what works for one person, may not for another. So please take this advice as a starting point, as opposed to a “must-follow” list. However, during my time in three different executive search consultancies, the broad template I describe below has seemed to stand candidates in good stead, and helped consultants like myself to more easily assess an individual’s fit with a role. When I began thinking about writing this blog, I did stop and think, what advice would I give to Chief Executives that wouldn’t apply to any other job hunter? And I think that most of what I am about to write definitely applies to anyone looking for their next role. BUT… While each Chief Executive role is different, depending on the sort of work the not for profit organisation undertakes and its size and scale; there are some core skills which are likely to be needed by all charity Chief Executives and which need clearly highlighting within your CV. Included in these are: outstanding leadership – the ability to deliver high levels of performance across an organisation; exceptional people management […]
6th August 2014

Life on the Other Side – A Consultant’s Perspective

Recently, on the 24th July, I spent the day at Newham council, shadowing Graeme Betts, Executive Director of Health and Partnerships to find out what life was really like ‘on the other side’. I was excited to have the opportunity to meet Heads of Service, Directors and the Chief Officer of Newham CCG to find out what they really did each day, so I could better understand what my Clients and Candidates need. I wanted to find out – what are the challenges of working in Newham, reported to be the second most deprived council in the whole of the UK, with the youngest average population and what skills do you need to succeed as a senior manager? Surprisingly, the general consensus was that Newham is not a ‘harder’ place to work, although the challenges are certainly different to those in more affluent boroughs. There is a saying within the council that once you have worked in Newham, you can work anywhere, as the range and scale of social care issues are far more wide reaching than almost anywhere else you may choose to work.  As ever, the challenges with recruitment and retention of staff was a consistent theme with […]
7th July 2014

How much time should a Trustee give to their Board?

If you are invited to join a Board as a volunteer Trustee it can be easy to believe that being present and using your skills and experience to pitch in on discussions that interest you is enough. They are lucky to have you and you are volunteering your valuable free time after all. Right? No no no!! That statement can only be correct if you are happy to join an organisation that lacks aspiration and you are content to be a part of what is likely to be a poor performing Board. Like so much in life, if it is worth doing it is worth doing well, and putting time and commitment into your role as a Trustee is so much more rewarding than never truly engaging with the Trustee role and aspirations of the organisation. Working at a high-level takes discipline and time. In April McKinsey published some research that suggested that very high-impact corporate Boards spend about 40 days a year working on the full range of issues, while low or moderate impact Boards dedicated about 19 days on their work per year. Interestingly, both types of Boards only spent 4 days per year each on core governance […]