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On 14th June 2017, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea changed forever – its policies and its leadership. The Council’s focus is to make a strong, positive difference for the people and communities we serve. Putting residents first is now at the heart of everything they do.
We were tasked with recruiting the Director of Financial Management and Deputy s151 Officer post at RBKC. This was a great opportunity for the right person to really leave a mark and to help RBKC become the best council for all their communities as the bereaved and survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy have challenged them to be.
While it was important that candidates were technically sound, far more important to them was a commitment to improving the outcomes for residents and understanding the crucial role that effective management of money and other resources can make to achieving that. Finance and Resources at Kensington and Chelsea are very much enabling services and they do what they do to enable the Council to deliver its vision and priorities and to ensure that the services residents and visitors receive are customer focused, effective and provide the best possible value for money.
This role was responsible for leading an excellent and effective team who have managed the Council’s finances very well over recent years. Candidates knew however that the challenges are tougher than they have ever been. Kensington and Chelsea must deliver a balanced budget and keep spending within that, but they must also help their most vulnerable residents through the cost of living crisis and continue to provide effective outcomes for residents. As the Council’s income falls sharply in real terms, this was a mighty challenge.
This was always going to be a challenging recruit, particularly given the skill set required, the candidate short market and the paramount importance of a candidate to have strong technical finance knowledge but also experience working in large scale and complex local authorities which would enable them to tackle the unique set of circumstances and challenges which RBKC faced.
We approached a wide range of potentially suitable candidates from our established networks of senior Local Government finance professionals, extensive database and gained referrals through our senior network. Given the specialised skill set needed, we proactively approached candidates working for large Local Authorities in London as well as other large Unitary or Metropolitan Borough’s.
We then vetted and interviewed all longlisted candidates, not only taking skillset and track record into account, but also considering factors key to Kensington and Chelsea, including leadership qualities, resilience, business acumen and technical finance experience. We then undertook Technical Assessments in conjunction with a highly experienced former s151 Officer, which assessed key competencies which would be needed to lead the finance function. Following this, we produced a shortlist of candidates which we presented to our client, who were selected for panel interviews with the Senior Management Team at Kensington and Chelsea.
Following the panel interviews with the Senior Management Team at Kensington and Chelsea, we then selected the final candidates who would be progressed to Member Panel interviews ahead of the successful appointment being made.
We were able to present a strong shortlist of candidates to the Executive Director of Resources and the Chief Executive who had been identified through our proactive searching and wider networks, and sharing the details and challenges of the opportunity.
The successful candidate was an ambitious and determined senior finance professional with extensive experience working across a number of large Local Authorities.
In line with the brief, the successful candidate clearly demonstrated their ability to lead an excellent and effective team who have managed the Council’s finances very well over recent years, their key external stakeholders and partners and to help RBKC become the best council for all their communities as the bereaved and survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy challenged them to be.
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