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Chief Executive

Adoption UK is a national charity providing support, information, advice and training to prospective adopters, adoptive families and long-term foster carers. Founded in 1971, Adoption UK has a membership of about 5,000 families and prospective families, including those with experience of all kinds of adoption. Established as a self-help membership organisation for adopters, Adoption UK remains true to its roots through continuing to provide services for adopters by adopters. It also helps adoption agencies find families for the children in their care through its Children Who Wait magazine and online family-finding service.

Our challenge was to find a new Chief Executive at a time of major policy and practice change within the adoption system. This political change had the potential to create new opportunities and challenges for all organisations working within the adoption and fostering sector. Adoption UK was closely involved in these developments and the new Chief Executive would need to immediately work with the government on the implementation of its plans to reform the adoption system, as well as identifying and seizing business opportunities for the charity.

Working closely with Adoption UK, Prospectus devised a search strategy that targeted candidates in the adoption and fostering sector within the corporate, public and civil society sectors. Alongside our search, we utilised networks and contacts to permeate the adoption and fostering sector. We also ran an online, targeted media campaign.

Our long-list of nine candidates included those from all three sectors working within the adoption and fostering sector. Following initial interviews with the Prospectus consultant, four candidates were presented to the client for panel interviews. The candidates were also required to make presentations, meet with the senior management team and host a media interview. An appointment was successfully made on the day.

Adoption UK recruited Hugh Thornbery as their Chief Executive to start in October 2012. Hugh had extensive experience in the adoption and fostering field, both at a strategic and operational level, having worked within children’s services for 30 years. He had led relationships with government ministers, civil servants and government departments for a national children’s charity relating to adoption and fostering issues. He had already helped to shape adoption and fostering policy and would bring these skills and relationships to ensure Adoption UK were able to influence key policy makers. Hugh also had the strong media experience needed for the external facing side of the role and the solid strategic and financial experience needed to run the organisation.

"We chose Prospectus to assist in our recruitment of a CEO as they, unlike others we met, took time to listen to us as a client first to gain an understanding of our specific requirements before proposing a search approach. This understanding of our organisation meant that they represented us very effectively to a broad spectrum of prospective candidates. They worked very quickly in meeting the very tight timescale required and we successfully offered on the due date." - Robert Duthie, Trustee and Chair of HR Committee, Adoption UK

To find out more about any of our services, or for an informal discussion, please email Borge Andreassen, Head of Executive Recruitment. Alternatively, you can contact him on 020 7691 1920.