General Manager - International Charity

The Client

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. They are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, national disasters and individual emergencies. They enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities.  And when the crisis is over they help them to recover and move on with their lives. Within the UK, the Red Cross operates through over 30,000 volunteers and about 3,000 staff.

Their services in the community are funded through a range of income generation activities. One such activity is the Red Cross Training (RCT) business, which annually trains over 120,000 people in first aid and related skills either at their own training venues or in their own companies around the UK. Not only is the provision of a safe working environment a legal requirement for employers, it can also boost efficiency, save money and provide employees with highly motivational life skill. They are also developing our public first aid training channel to focus first aid skills and building resilience throughout the UK population.

The Business challenge

To achieve ambitious growth plans and to significantly develop RCT’s market share, a new Head of Red Cross Training was required to lead the business through a transitioning marketplace and contribute to the wider charity’s strategic plan.

As General Manager for a 300 employee business, this was a key role reporting to the Director of Education for British Red Cross. After failing to attract the right calibre of candidate through a previous advertising campaign supplemented with candidate introductions from recruitment agencies, the decision was made to appoint an executive search specialist to conduct a thorough appraisal of the candidate marketplace and then implement a targeted headhunt.

Key to the success of the project would be the suppliers’ ability to interpret RCT’s unique culture and to assimilate their values into the assessment strategy for potential candidates.

To acquire this person to the senior leadership team, British Red Cross chose to appoint Collingwood as the retained search partner based on the depth of understanding demonstrated after briefing, combined with our heritage in delivering complex headhunting campaigns for clients with similar requirements.

Our solution

A dual approach of targeted headhunting and advertising on selected executive job boards was decided on in order to see candidates from a range of industry backdrops. Collingwood’s in-house Research Team evaluated the candidate marketplace by conducting an appraisal of organisations with both commercial and cultural parallels to the British Red Cross training business.

Following the market appraisal, a series of discreet approaches were made to high-potential candidates for whom data had been gathered on. After consulting with the client about interested parties, a competency framework was established before face-to-face interviews were carried out by Collingwood’s Project Manager.

Candidate’s deemed suitable for selection were then further assessed using psychometric assessment tools endorsed by the British Psychological Society, the results of which were scrutinised with the client at a shortlisting meeting before a final shortlist was decided on.

Key to matching the candidate’s skillset and competencies to the client’s requirements was a true understanding of the business. To do this Collingwood had invested significant time at the front end of the process, taking the time to learn what type of people made the business tick and what personalities the successful candidate would need to interact with.


The Result

After a comprehensive search into a number of key market sectors including financial services, training, healthcare, not for profit, consultancy services and media advertising, the shortlist that was produced contained an array of backgrounds, but all shared a common theme – the candidates would be able to assimilate into the unique organisational culture of the British Red Cross.

The candidates were all exposed to a highly challenging recruitment process with Collingwood and went on to the selection process with the client. A candidate was appointed from a background in healthcare who whilst not having any relevant industry experience to mention, demonstrated convincingly that he could lead the RCT business to higher market share through his innovative thinking and his common sense of purpose with the team.