The new Chair, Peter Molyneux, had a depth of NHS Mental Health chairing experience but in an NHS Trust not a Foundation Trust so this was a different process for him and his Governors were anxious as they had run a campaign using only internal support three months earlier but, despite what seemed a strong response (they received in excess of 30 applications), they had been unable to appoint. Consequently, they decided to use a search firm to see if that improved their chances of making an appointment. Following a competitive tender we were awarded the contract and, after briefings from the Chair, CEO and Lead Governor launched the campaign.
The requirement was quite complex. The Chair had undertaken a skills audit shortly after his arrival and had identified a need to bring into his NED team some skills around OD/HR, Strategic Partnership working and an NED with a good understanding of the NHS and the capacity to help the Trust really shape it’s clinical strategy. In addition, they were losing two women from the Board and they had no one from a BAME background. The COG agreed with all of this but were also keen to bring on Board individuals with Lived Experience of Mental Health, as a Carer, Service User or in a professional capacity.
We were asked to support on the recruitment of two new Non-Executive Directors for Sussex Partnership, which is a Mental Health and Community Foundation Trust on the South East Coast.
We spoke to over 200 individuals during the course of this campaign; potential candidates and also sources and had a long list of 15. The Chair – who had spoken during the course of the campaign with most of this final longlist, was content and believed he could easily appoint more than half of the 15 but the COG were concerned that they might not have enough to choose from and needed some reassurance that we had gone for quality over and above quantity. All 15 were interviewed and detailed reports sent to the panel in advance of the shortlist meeting, which helped to alleviate many of their concerns. We called 7 for interview and at the end of the interview day both the stakeholder group and the interview panel were unanimous in their decision to appoint three rather than two new NEDs to the Board, such was the strength of the field. They appointed 2 women and 1 man, 1 BAME candidate, 1 candidate who declared a disability and 3 with one form or another of Lived Experience. One candidate had a clinical, academic and very senior executive background in health and social care, one was a leading name in Diversity and Inclusion who had been a Director of HR and OD for a number of the UK’s largest professional services firms, the third was a CEO of one of the largest FE Colleges with an exceptionally strong network in the region across health, education, local and national politics and commerce.
I think that one of the differentiators about Hunter is that when I ask for a diverse field of candidates they come back with a field that is genuinely diverse.Peter Molyneux
Chair – Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.