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NEDs on board The First Ark Group

The First Ark GroupThe First Ark Group has a unique perspective on how social businesses can create genuine economic change.  The business model consists of five companies working together in synergy, generating life-changing opportunities and delivering a tangible and sustainable impact on the lives of people who live and work in their communities. Each of the five companies contributes in a different way, although collectively they are focused on delivering positive and successful change.

The Group had undertaken a major governance review and recognised the need to diversify the skills present on each of their boards. Opportunities existed for both new and experienced Non-Executive Directors to join the First Ark Group board as well as Knowsley Housing Trust, One Ark and Vivark subsidiaries. They approached Wickland Westcott to help appoint up to nine new board members, with a brief to identify high calibre candidates from commercial, public and third sector backgrounds.

Wickland Westcott undertook an extensive search and selection exercise with the following principal challenges:

  • To attract aspirant or experienced NEDs with track records of helping organisations change
  • A requirement for candidates with particular skills, especially legal, finance, risk, development, fundraising and social investment
  • Attract proven strategic leaders with high levels of energy, passion, drive and ambition
  • Appoint candidates who would bring new perspectives on the strategic issues facing the Group

Wickland Westcott undertook a highly focused search to meet these challenges, with a message to the market which emphasised the Group’s ambition and community focus.  A key aspect of the search was to identify candidates not only with the relevant skills but also the motivation to join a Group with a clearly defined social purpose. Their cultural fit was carefully assessed, particularly to understand which subsidiary would be most suited to them.

With so many opportunities available, the Wickland Westcott interview process was extensive and candidates were interviewed from a broad range of sectors and backgrounds. A strong shortlist was produced, comprising candidates who were interested in either one or several of the opportunities. This allowed both the candidates and interview panel a greater degree of choice to ensure ‘best fit’.

Several of the appointed candidates had no prior sector exposure. As such, a key aspect of the Group’s post-appointment process was a thorough induction process which included networking with existing board members and a tour of some of the Group’s new developments and wider communities.

Executive Director for Business Transformation, Collette King, commented: “We were keen to work with a search partner who had a thorough understanding of the challenges facing housing and not for profit organisations, combined with broad networks across the commercial sector.  Following our governance transformation project it was essential that we appointed skilled professionals with the strategic skills essential to help the Group continue its progress. We were very pleased with the diverse range of candidates which Wickland Westcott provided and we were able to appoint Non-Executives who will add considerable value to our boards for years to come.”

For more information on how to source the best Non-Executive talent within a not for profit environment, please contact John Dodd on 01625 508100.