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University of Cumbria

Cumbria uni logoAlthough one of Britain's newest universities, the University of Cumbria has an impressive history of educating professionals for over 150 years. Formed in 2007, it has campuses in Carlisle, Penrith, Workington, Ambleside, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancaster and Tower Hamlets.

The university retained Wickland Westcott to find its next Director of Estates, and the search presented two particular challenges. The first was that, despite Cumbria being one of the most beautiful counties in the UK, the location could present a significant obstacle as some strong candidates might perceive the region as remote. Second, the brief required an individual who not only had the breadth of experience to successfully oversee a geographically and architecturally diverse estate portfolio, but could also initiate the journey to ‘right size’ the university’s physical estate, reducing the footprint by 30% over three years. These twin requirements demanded that the search strategy include sectors outside Higher Education in order to capture the required experience.

Wickland Westcott conducted a wide-ranging search encompassing a broad spectrum of private and public sector organisations, targeted towards those who had developed their careers in complex estate environments. The proposition to candidates placed a clear emphasis upon the key challenges of the brief, presenting them with the personal opportunity of moving into the Higher Education sector whilst also promoting the benefits of Cumbria to those who might not have considered developing their career there.

The search and advertising strategy resulted in a high number of applications and the candidate chosen by the University combined an impressive track record of leadership and strategy with a unique mix of career experience across financial services, education, NHS and emergency services.

Janet Whitworth, the University’s Chief Operating Officer, concluded:

“Wickland Westcott demonstrated a good understanding of our culture, and their questions helped me to focus on the most important attributes in the successful candidate. They provided first class communications and updates throughout the project.”