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Case Study – The Royal College of Art

Veredus was engaged by the Royal College of Art (RCA) in May 2014 to appoint three Heads, with expertise respectively in Vehicle Design, Visual Communication, and History of Design.  The posts became vacant following a decision to uncouple the previously joint Dean and Head roles in each of the College’s faculties. 

The RCA’s programmes in these disciplines are world-leading and highly prestigious.  For example, the design leads at all but one international vehicle design firm are graduates of the RCA’s Vehicle Design programme, and the History of Design programme has benefitted for over thirty years from a close relationship with the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A).

Whilst Veredus placed advertisements for each role in mainstream higher education publications and specialist press, these complex and demanding assignments have been primarily driven by intensive research to identify key international players in highly specialised fields.  Candidate pools have been narrowed by exacting qualifying criteria and the fact that the RCA already employs many of the foremost academics in these disciplines.  

Given the specialist nature of these searches, there was no ‘cookie cutter’ approach to placing candidates.  Each assignment has required Veredus to work in a highly collaborative and tailored manner with the RCA’s Deans, Associate Deans, Heads of Research, and HR team, to explain the fields of candidates emerging and regularly recalibrate search efforts.  Reporting has been written, via telephone conference, and in person, and during the most intensive periods has entailed lengthy discussion of candidates multiple times per week.  In the case of History of Design, the shortlist also had to satisfy the RCA’s key partners, the V&A.

Beyond working with the RCA’s senior academics, partners, and professional staff, Veredus has undertaken consultations with students in the relevant programmes.  Proactive engagement with students was a key part of the briefing process for each role, and in doing this Veredus has helped the RCA to navigate some potentially political internal situations and avoid student dissatisfaction with the appointment processes.  

Veredus successfully appointed to the roles and was subsequently retained to appoint the Head of Architecture and the College’s Director of Finance. 

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