Thursday, 28 August 2014

Trustees Unlimited Recruitment Case Study: World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

Trustees Unlimited were tasked with strengthening the board of WSPA and recruiting several new trustees to its board from around the world. Here's the story of what happened...

About World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
WSPA is a well-respected global animal welfare charity with a reputation for delivering results at the forefront of animal protection. With offices in 15 countries, an operating budget of over $70 million and an unparalleled network of more than 1,000 organisations in 156 different countries WSPA makes a powerful, global impact.

WSPA runs global campaigns on disaster management, stopping the illegal trade in wild animals and humane and sustainable agriculture to end the suffering of billions of animals in intensive farming. The organisation started as a membership organisation in the UK and USA 30 years ago, but it is now a truly global organisation with a new governance structure.

Its new strategy is to make animal welfare part of the global wellbeing debate and bring it more into the public consciousness, much like environmental and humanitarian charities have done over the past decade.

The charity is mid-way through implementing a five year strategy and focusing on delivering real and lasting change not only for the animals, but for the people who depend on them, which means it needs to engage at the top tables in both governments and big businesses around the world. 

To achieve its new goals, WSPA wanted to strengthen its board and recruit several new trustees to its board from all around the world with strong experience in promoting higher standards in animal welfare globally.

The challenge

Previously WSPA had recruited people through its own networks, and mainly from animal charities, but this recruitment and search process needed to be different and reflect the new organisational structure and mission.
Whilst there were trustee boards in place in several countries; the main International board based in the UK now needed to reflect the global nature of its work. The charity needed a more diverse group of international trustees from all walks of life not just animal welfare organisations, to join the International board. The search began two years ago and is on-going.
As Stephen Corri, director of governance and legal services at WSPA commented: “We wanted to find trustees with experience of working with large humanitarian or environmental charities that could help us raise the profile of animal welfare, as these kinds of charities have done in the past. We also needed people with strong commercial and financial backgrounds that are able to make change happen from a business perspective and help us build networks across the world.”
The recruitment process
To recruit on such a global scale is a challenge and to find an organisation flexible enough to be able to do this is also a challenge.
WSPA met up with several large recruitment firms, as well as Trustees Unlimited.
Even though Trustees Unlimited hadn’t undertaken a big international search before they were passionate about the project and flexible in their approach as they moved through the process, so they were selected.
Stephen Corri commented: “We needed a bespoke recruitment service; not an ‘off-the-shelf’ recruitment package that many of the larger recruitment agencies were offering. This was a unique search with a unique set of requirements. We also needed the service to be very cost-effective.
“Trustees Unlimited offered exactly what we needed, within our budget and working together we devised a very successful recruitment programme that has already brought us several great candidates.”
Olga Johnson, Associate Director at Trustees Unlimited headed up the search. Olga is well travelled and having been on the board of three international charities has first-hand experience of what was needed.
After taking a detailed briefing Olga set about the extensive global search to find potential candidates outside the UK that could offer the experience the charity needed to take it forward.
All of the WSPA trustee roles require significant global strategic expertise. In the last two years a skills audit of trustees identified a specific need for a new trustee with strategic finance expertise from the commercial sector, and another with humanitarian aid expertise.
An in-depth global search enabled WSPA to recruit three new trustees in 2012 and 2013 with the above experience. Another search was completed to identify a trustee with relevant global vetinary and animal welfare expertise, and for this role Olga focused on three sectors to identify candidates: 
  • International animal welfare voluntary sector including contacts within WSPA
  • Veterinary colleges and their alumni outside the UK together with veterinary professional membership societies
  • Veterinary pharmaceutical industry
Olga Johnson commented: “This is a very unique and long term search for us, and during the recruitment process I travelled via the web to China, Thailand, New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya  DRC and the US making contact with organisations we felt could help us find candidates with the right experience and background.
“By a fortunate coincidence I was able to interview one of the candidates in Kenya, as I just happened to be on holiday there at the time. It truly was a global search,” adds Ms Johnson.
The new trustees
So far Trustees Unlimited has recruited three trustees with a combination of humanitarian expertise and commercial and financial expertise, two of which are overseas. Paul Baldwin, managing director of HSBC Global Banking and Markets Division in London was recruited first in 2012.
This was followed last year by Nesta Hatendi, who is based in Kenya and is the regional representative for Africa for Help Age International. Another is Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly who is based in Thailand and is a senior advisor for Save the Children UK in the Asia region.
The search for trustees is on-going and, having successfully completed a global search for a veterinary trustee, Trustees Unlimited has put forward three more candidates for interview.
Olga Johnson comments: “This search has so far found three extraordinary new trustees for WSPA who are already in place; and in the next few weeks interviews will be taking place for the veterinary trustee role.It has been a pleasure working with WSPA and I very much look forward to continuing to look for trustees and completing their international board.”
Trustees Unlimited is a joint venture trustee recruitment company set up by Russam GMS, NCVO and Bates Wells Braithwaite. The company has seen rapid growth over three years and is working with charities of all sizes to appoint professional trustees to their boards. Currently one in five charities has a trustee vacancy on their boards, Trustees Unlimited has a database of around 1,300 trustees from professional backgrounds looking for trustee positions.

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