UK Research and Innovation

CFO

Established in 2018, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is an independent, non-departmental public body, bringing together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. UKRI is charged with maximising the value from £7bn of the UK Government’s investment in research and innovation. It is principally funded through the Science Budget by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

UKRI leads the strategic direction for most of the non-defence public sector research and innovation funding in the UK, pushing the frontiers of human knowledge. The organisation has over 7,500 employees spread across the UK, with its headquarters based in Swindon.
Allen Lane were proud to be awarded the campaign to recruit to UKRI’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO) vacancy, a post equivalent to Director General in the Civil Service. Having provided a number of staffing solutions to BEIS over a sustained period, it was fantastic to have the opportunity to work with one of their Arm’s Length Bodies at such an important time in their fledgling history.

Brief/Problem:

In October 2019 Allen Lane went live with their campaign to recruit UKRI’s new CFO, as uncertainty over Brexit continued to dominate the news. The brief was clear: UKRI needed a new finance leader with an ability to operate across UKRI, working closely with the CEO to set the strategic vision by providing professional advice and judgements on a broad range of complex matters.

UKRI was entering its second chapter, having only been established in April 2018 having brought together the previously separate Research Councils. A significant element of the process was the need to identify applicants able to work from the Swindon headquarters, but able to travel nationally to UKRI’s various other sites.

A highly resilient individual was required, with outstanding emotional intelligence and an ability to deliver at pace. An appreciation of science and research must be complemented by commercial acumen and business knowledge. The importance of research and innovation would only be further enhanced by the incoming Government led by Boris Johnson.

Approach/research:

Allen Lane delivered an extensive and far-reaching marketing campaign to ensure the opportunity was accessible to applicants from all corners of the Public Sector and from the commercial world. A headhunting strategy was implemented to target passive job seekers, particularly those based near the Swindon area.

Our well-cultivated database meant applicants already registered with Allen Lane were also approached, particularly those with a background in academia, science and research institutions. Using our unique approach, we developed an interactive and engaging micro-site and a Candidate Pack which provided all prospective applicants with all of the information required in one place.

Throughout the process, the Civil Service’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion were factored in as Allen Lane became an extension of UKRI, aligned to their vision and values.

Results/achievement:

The strength of our shortlist meant that two applicants from the recruitment campaign were deemed appointable by the interview panel. UKRI have now appointed a CFO of the highest calibre, able to operate in a complex and challenging setting.

The unsuccessful applicants from the process were given an excellent service throughout, as Allen Lane established new connections and relationships with some of the UK’s most impressive Public Sector CFOs, which will only enhance our ability to recruit to roles of this seniority in the future.

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