Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation (Impetus-PEF) is committed to transforming the lives of 11-24 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds by ensuring they get the support they need to succeed in education, find and keep jobs, and achieve their potential. It finds the most promising charities and social enterprises that work with these young people. It helps them become highly effective organisations that transform lives; then helps them expand significantly so as to dramatically increase the number of young people they serve.
In 2012 Impetus-PEF invested in WorkingRite, a charity working to tackle youth unemployment by providing young people with the skills, attitudes and experiences to secure and sustain employment. WorkingRite’s unique programme pairs young people with local small- and medium-sized employers in a range of industries, and supplements this on-the-job experience with training in maths, English and employability, and one-to-one support from a dedicated project coordinator. Since joining the Impetus-PEF portfolio, WorkingRite has received funding, pro bono specialist business expertise and leadership support to help the charity expand its services.
A key component of this work was to bring NBI, a talent consultancy, on board to donate their expertise in executive search and assessment to run an effective, thorough and professional recruitment for a new CEO. CEO John Gardner led the project, bringing over 25 years of experience in executive search to ensure the right person was recruited for the job.
From the outset John worked closely with WorkingRite’s Board of Trustees, the outgoing CEO and founder Sandy Campbell and the Impetus-PEF investment director. John stresses how much time and effort went into understanding exactly what kind of person would be capable of propelling WorkingRite forward: “I was really trying to understand the nuances behind who it was we were looking for – the technical skills needed, the cultural fit, as well as where the individual might come from. So I met Sandy to understand what was in his mind as well as liaising closely with the Impetus-PEF investment director to get her perspective”.
Once he was clear on exactly who they were seeking, John and his team crafted a specialised job advertisement and used NBI’s networks to search for potential candidates. This meant around 100 high-calibre individuals applied or were recommended for the role, a far greater number than expected by the WorkingRite team. NBI filtered these to produce a list of six for the investment director and members of WorkingRite’s board to interview. NBI also produced psychometric evaluations of these candidates to provide further insights. In addition, John worked with the team to design an effective interview process and develop a template of key questions.
After two rounds of intense interviews, WorkingRite appointed its impressive new CEO, Ryan Mackie. In post since January 2014, Ryan is now leading a process of impact and strategy review to maximise the quality of WorkingRite’s services and impact on the lives of disadvantaged young people.
“Personally and as an organisation I was proud of the work we did and gained a sense of satisfaction and personal development out of it as well,” John reflected. “Exposure to the not-for-profit sector adds a very different dimension to one’s work experience. Not only was it interesting but it was really gratifying to bring our understanding, best practice and insight of what we do all the time to a very worthwhile charitable organisation and for them to think Gosh that’s really helpful”.
At the heart of this partnership is the Impetus-PEF investment director, who works from start to finish managing pro bono projects and acts as a critical friend to the charity. “When NBI first expressed an interest in working with us, they wanted an opportunity that would take advantage of their specialist skills, to provide unique high-quality support to a worthy cause,” said investment director Sherine Mahmoud. “Following on from this project and the appointment of Ryan, WorkingRite is confident that the new leadership team will take the organisation to the next level of growth and impact, and further its goals of helping young people access employment opportunities”.