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Case Study - Electoral Commission

Through an open competition Veredus was appointed to assist the Electoral Commission with the recruitment of the new Chief Executive. The Electoral Commission is an independent body accountable to the UK Parliament, responsible for regulating political party and election finance and setting standards for well-run elections. It works to support a healthy democracy, where elections and referendums are based on our principles of trust, participation and no undue influence. 

These are important times for democratic politics, and the post came at an exciting but challenging time in the Commission’s development. As the Commission’s Vision for 2020 makes clear, it aims to be a world-class public sector organisation which is innovative, delivers great value, and gets right what matters most to voters and legislators. The new Chief Executive would play a central role in leading and motivating the Commission’s staff through this period of change, helping it continue to develop and deliver on this vision, and meeting what is expected of it from a wide range of stakeholders, in a complex and challenging political environment.

We started by engaging with the members of the selection panel and key internal and external stakeholders who included the Electoral Commission’s Chair Jenny Watson, several of the Commissioners, and all the 13 Members of the Electoral Advisory Board. All of these individuals gave us excellent briefings that provided outlined the background to the recruitment and the main priorities and challenges for the role. Our in-depth understanding of the Commission, and the impact that this role would make meant that we had the information and insight to talk credibly about the role and present it as an attractive opportunity to a targeted and senior audience. 

This was an extremely demanding role, and we conducted a vigorous and thorough executive search campaign to find candidates who would bring the credibility, resilience and stamina to operate in a high profile and politically sensitive environment. The successful candidate had to be an exceptional and inspirational senior leader who is both experienced and credible at board level, with a proven track record of leading a complex and demanding organisation through a period of significant change. They also needed to be able to command stakeholders’ confidence, while maintaining independence of action and approach, and be able to operate effectively in an environment subject to the highest levels of public scrutiny. 

We elicited 30 applications, 10 of which were progressed to a long list screening interview. These 10 were then reduced to a short list of five, four of whom were search candidates. The shortlisted candidates included a Chief Executive of a big charity, a Chief Executive of a criminal justice agency, a former Chief Executive of a regulator, a Director from a Government Department, and the Head of NATO’s Maritime Headquarters. Two of the shortlisted candidates were female and three male. These final five candidates were then presented to the selection panel for final panel interviews, after which an appointable candidate was identified. Claire Bassett (Chief Executive of The Parole Board) was appointed to the post.

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