Case Study: CEO Recruitment

Issues:

For more than 30 years, the Tuberous Sclerosis Association (TSA) has been researching and helping families affected by the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex – a genetic condition that can cause tumours to grow in any organ of the body. The tumours can cause epilepsy or autism when affecting the brain, and can lead to extremely serious health problems if mutating cells reach the kidneys or lungs. It affects one in 6,000 people born in theUK, and symptoms include giving people rashes, and also behavioural problems.

In all this time though, the charity has largely been run on a 'founders-spirit' of goodwill and tireless work from volunteers. However, last summer, when it undertook a strategic review of what needed to be done to put itself on a secure footing for the future, the answer was very clearly that TSA needed to recruit its first ever, chief executive officer.

"It was very clearly a dedicated CEO – working four days a week ­was needed to guarantee our position going forward," says Philip Goldenberg, chair of the TSA. "We produced a job-spec, advertised, and we received a massive 118 replies."

Clearly, while not all of these were right for job, some way of establishing who to appoint after the main whittling-down process had happened was still needed.

Our Approach:

That's when Mendas got involved – to help TSA work out what sort of person would be successful in this newly-created role, to understand the sort of experience, approach and values that would be most important, and once identified, to decide the most appropriate way of assessing individuals for said skills/behaviours.

"Our HR support officer recommended we take a more psychometric slant," says Goldenberg. "As soon as we met with Mendas we were very comfortable with the approach they suggested, and after starting with a shortlist of nine, Mendas and I both decided to put five of them through a more detailed assessment. Mendas worked in partnership with us to design an assessment approach tailored to our needs and values. This comprised a presentation, interview, a personality assessment and a set of ability tests."

Mendas designed an interview structure and presentation exercise and recommended specific ability tests and personality assessments. Even before the five short-listed candidates attended the assessment centre, each did an online personality questionnaire followed by an interview with one of the chartered psychologists from Mendas. This meant that each psychologist's interpretation of the results from the personality questionnaire could pre-inform TSA's own five-strong assessment panel about the specific areas they should potentially probe the candidates on in more detail.

Outcome:

The results from the assessment not only revealed a clear favourite, but all of the candidates themselves reported how fair the process had been," says Goldenberg.

In fact Goldenberg admits that without Mendas's detailed assessment, TSA may not have hired the right person: "For one of the five, the process revealed a real weakness that we didn't think was there on paper," he recalls. "Mendas's input produced one clear favourite as well as a good runner-up. This wasn't what we expected at all just by looking at their CVs and applications."

And the eventual hire? The lucky candidate was Jayne Spink. She took up her post last December, and was formerly director of policy & research for the Multiple Sclerosis Society (MSS). "We believe Jayne will make an excellent CEO," he says.

 
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