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British Council Case Study

Article Background


The British Council is the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. They are on the ground in 6 continents and have operations in over 110 countries with a turnover of almost £1Bn.


Being one of the largest charities and NGO’s in the UK, the British Council have a wide reaching and complex matrix managed structure with a large presence in the London HQ. The British Council have a successful internal resourcing team for its several strategic business units and after winning a tender to partner on both interim and permanent roles, it was incredibly important to fully understand and build relationships with each business function. As one of my largest clients, I’m regularly asked to partner with them for resourcing BAU roles across Corporate Services but also for more complex project and transformation roles. Due to my previous work with the British Council, I took on the key Account Manager role for them at Pro-Finance. So far, I’ve been asked to resource several key leadership roles including the Finance Director, as well as several pivotal roles within the Financial Transparency project - a multi-million pound initiative spanning all 6 continents. I’ve worked closely with the internal resourcing team (including Lynda Morrissey and Matt Philips) as well as the SMT, to deliver recruitment within the London HQ for interim, contract and permanent roles. Stakeholders at the British Council wanted a specialist agency with a team who could source from a strong network of commercial and project focused candidates with global experience. The set up at the British Council is unique – they are run with the same quality and pressures as a Blue Chip but within the construct of a charity / NGO hybrid.


After meeting with as many of the key stakeholders and internal resourcing team as possible face to face at the start of any recruitment exercise, I ensure a fully rounded understanding of key drivers, pressures, and milestones for each role is reached. As with all my clients, I wanted to ensure I was acting as an extension of the British Council’s resourcing team and the work they are putting in to directly source candidates. I work closely with both the SMT and resourcing team (depending on whether the roles are permanent or interim) to agree on a recruitment timetable, recruitment process, and the overall message to take to market. Having built up a thorough understanding of the types of candidates the British Council prefer to employ, I am able to efficiently sift and screen candidates to match their requirements. As the British Council brand is so strong, it makes it a pleasure to proactively head-hunt and source candidates who had previously not considered them as an employer.


Over the last 18 months, I have worked on numerous interim and permanent positions sourcing candidates mainly for qualified and leadership posts. Due to my understanding of the recruitment process and competencies, the British Council assess against, I’m able to fully prepare candidates in a competency based interview completed prior to submission for roles. Due to the British Council offices being throughout the UK and overseas, where a face to face meeting is not possible a Skype call is completed. It’s sometimes tricky to manage stakeholder availability and to coordinate interviews but ensuring candidate expectations are met, the processes most often runs very smoothly. So far, I’ve been successful in placing over 20 key roles including the Corporate Finance Director, Group Accountant, Planning and Reporting Analyst, Finance Business Partners, Heads of Finance and several key players in the Financial Transparency Programme.


My work with the British Council is ongoing so I ensure I’m always up to date with key structural and policy changes as well as updates to the recruitment process and key stakeholders. I’m in regular contact with the leadership team as well as the resourcing team for each business unit and am pleased to have had some fantastic feedback from them and to be one of the key resourcing partners for finance and corporate services. “I wanted to say, what an absolute pleasure it is to work with Matt since I started at the British Council in June.  Matt is held in very high esteem with my manager, Matthew Phillips, and with our internal stakeholders here.  When I started with the BC, Matt immediately and warmly requested a personal meeting, and was very professional, engaging and credible from the get-go.   It was clear that he had gained a wealth of knowledge as to the type of candidate we like to recruit and understands our needs very well. Matt earned my trust from very early on, he and your team are delivering some excellent candidates to us consistently, and for numerous hard to fill roles requiring a quick turnaround.  Matt has also been very patient, professional and understanding in waiting sometimes longer than we would have both liked, for feedback from some of our directorates, and manages the candidate engagement process very well, which really helps us too.  Matt is a real credit to Pro Finance and to your team, and I really wanted to share that with you. Thank you for your partnership in 2016, we really value and appreciate it. “ - Lynda Morrissey, Resourcing Business Partner at British Council.