3 Key Take-outs from my Latest Executive Search Assignment (Learning Disabilities Charity)

My latest executive assignment took me into a sub-sector I know particularly well; learning disabilities. I have had the fortune to partner one of the fastest growing Social Care Providers in the South East to place a new Director of Operations.

Once more my personal network and industry understanding gave me the platform to undertake a highly targeted headhunt. Alongside engaging with extremely interesting and talented individuals, some key themes again emerged.

Here are my 3 key take-outs from the Director of Operations assignment;

  1. Opportunity knocks. Learning Disability Providers who can offer Local Authorities and CCGs innovative solutions to support customers with high acuity needs have real growth potential. There is a clear market shift from Residential care settings to a range of Supported and Independent Living arrangements for patients with complex learning and physical disabilities. Providers proactively engaging commissioners with solutions which allow greater independence and control for people being supported are in a niche where demand currently outstrips supply.
  1. Seeing is believing. My last two clients have both wholeheartedly bought into adding a stage into the interview process to allow shortlist candidates to visit their services. I cannot advocate this enough. A number of advantages instantly jump to mind;

                                I.            Candidates open up far more in this more relaxed environment. As such hiring firms gain a better insight into their interpersonal nature. Other members of staff also have an opportunity to meet each candidate and provide their viewpoint. Granted it is a finite window, yet candidates with natural alignment to the organisation should still have made a strong first impression with wider stakeholders. This feedback can be incorporated into the decision-making process

                              II.            It allows the candidate to gain a true snapshot of ‘daily life’ in the services they will be immersed. This will allow them to best envisage some of the work which needs undertaking and where they can add immediate value. It is sure to get the mind(s) of the strongest candidates turning over

                            III.            It shapes the final stage interview. Through either a set presentation topic or competency-based questioning, candidates can provide first-hand insights and perspectives on your services. It may well be that an unsuccessful candidate leaves you with one particularly pertinent insight which triggers an internal review process

  1. Charitable by name, COMMERCIAL by nature. The ‘new norm’ in the third sector. Despite no shareholders to satisfy, charities are no less hungry to drive the bottom line. It is widely known that a strong proportion of charitable providers tend not to be as highly leveraged as their private counterparts and have robust balance sheets as a result. This is clearly heavily linked to levels of borrowing but management mind and skill set undoubtedly contribute. This particular headhunt focused on individuals with a track record of winning and retaining business as well as specialist expertise. Directors of Operations are increasingly a hybrid of business development and service excellence. A purple squirrel? Not quite, but not far short. All the more satisfying when your client describes your placed candidate as ‘exceptional’!

I have a true passion for partnering value-based organisations within the healthcare sector.

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