Beamish is a renowned living museum telling the story of the people of North East England from the 1820s through to the 1950s. The North East’s most popular paid-for tourist attraction, it has recently been confirmed by VisitEngland as the number 11 most-visited paid-for attraction in the country. No other North East visitor attractions are in the top 20.

Beamish welcomes c. 800,000 visitors in a “normal” year, and unusually for a museum, 50% of its visitors are from the C2DE socio-economic group; their fastest growing audience segment is families on low incomes. Beamish Museum is set apart to offer a truly immersive experience, connecting people and communities to share stories, experiences and learning and enabling visitors and local communities – many of whom have donated to their collection, to be integral to its ongoing evolution and development.

Brief.

The Chief Operating Officer’s role required forward-thinking, open-minded and collaborative leaders who were to work collegiately with colleagues, have an entrepreneurial spirit and put Beamish Museum’s visitors first in everything they did. Responsible for the strategic leadership and management of the museum’s operations, this key role would oversee health and safety, commercial enterprise and the overall visitor experience.

The COO’s role would ensure excellence across the visitor experience, promote genuine community engagement, and become responsible for all commercial activity, including food, beverage, retail and Beamish Museum’s new accommodation offer.

The new COO needed to lead the development, delivery and evaluation of operational strategy, especially the operational functions, to ensure the museum runs as cost-effectively as possible and that there was strong trading and related activity of the museum as income-generating areas. They also needed to keep an eye on health and safety and ensure that the organisation’s values and culture are embedded within day-to-day practice.

We ran this process concurrently with the search for a new Director of People and Culture.

Process.

After a successful campaign to recruit a Chair and ten new Trustees for their board, Peridot Partners was re-engaged by Beamish to create a recruitment campaign that would attract leaders who could balance a range of commercial and operational aims as well as ensure a high-quality visitor experience.

Beamish put leadership skills and credible enterprise experience at the centre of its search. They were open-minded about the sector of the candidate pool and keen to explore candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, including other visitor attractions, museums and galleries, leisure operations, tourism and retail sectors.

Outcome.

Our shortlist included:

  • A regional manager from an internationally renowned heritage organisation.
  • An operational leader from a large nationally recognised sporting venue.
  • A director from a well-known horticultural heritage organisation.
  • An operations leader from a world-renowned arts establishment.

The successful candidate bought a background in property management, operational leadership and holiday accommodation with English Heritage and a strong set of values which were closely aligned with Beamish Museums.

“Our experience of working with Peridot has been excellent, with professionalism, insight, advice and guidance at the forefront from the partners working with us. The highest standards of excellence across the board were applied by them, and a thorough and well-researched approach led to a smooth recruitment process and appointments made. We would certainly use Peridot again and would highly recommend them to others.”

Rhiannon Hiles, CEO, Beamish Museum