Our USP – Sourcing and Securing Great Talent from Outside Housing

Where we add real value is by attracting and securing talented executives and senior managers from outside Housing to consider the sector and specific clients as a career destination. This trend has increasingly developed over the last five years in response to an increasingly challenging context and environment.

Consequently, we have sourced many Directors who have survived and thrived, bringing with them fresh approaches and greater efficiency and rigour to the areas of Customer Service, Transformation and Change, Digital Delivery, and Development without detracting from the values and mission of the organisation.

In short, we do not simply ‘recycle’ from within the Housing sector, but seek to promote the best from within it while benchmarking and introducing exciting talent from outside of it.

I was privileged to attend an inspiring talk a few years ago given by Dame Sarah Story. If you are not familiar with Sarah, she is a Para-Olympian who has won gold medals in two very different disciplines.

Sarah won in the pool in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but was forced to give up swimming early in her career after suffering a year of chronic ear infections. She certainly wasn’t finished and still had an enormous will to win so switched to cycling.  A swimmer and cyclist physiology differ significantly; simply put swimmers have big shoulders, cyclists have big legs. Sarah wasn’t a cyclist but came to the new sport with the knowledge and experience of how to train, listen, learn, work as part of a team and ultimately win at the highest level. She thrived in her new environment and the rest is history, winning gold in the 2008 Olympics and four golds at the 2012 London games.

I’ve never forgotten meeting Sarah and her ability to change discipline is something that I always consider when recruiting. I’ve seen that if an individual has sufficient motivation towards our sector and can demonstrate achievement in their previous roles they will invariably do well.  I look for the candidate who has programmed themselves to succeed and I will prioritise the passionate person with a track record of adapting over the individual who might tick every box on the specification but perhaps lacks original ideas and drive.

Anyone who knows and has worked with me over the years will have sat in one of my long-list meetings where, upon first glance at the CV I appear to be trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. Rest assured, I’m not doing this just to annoy you; I’m doing it because I’ve seen something in this individual that the other candidates in the shortlist might lack and I will champion their cause knowing that they have the transferable skills and the correct ideals to match your organisation and brief.

The lesson I’ve learnt is don’t go for the obvious replica when there could be a new more exciting prospect around the corner. You might find someone who will not only make that role a success but will take it in a new direction and bring the skills and infectious energy to encourage further growth.

As you can see, we are pretty passionate about this and increasingly we see our views being reflected by the Boards and Executive Teams we work with too. The results speak for themselves…

Jim Allcroft, Executive Search Consultant

Posted by Jim Allcroft

Jim Allcroft

Higher Education


Emma Wilkins of Dixon Walter, led the recruitment campaign for this key appointment. It follows successful academic leadership appointments elsewhere for the University. Emma has taken much time to understand the institution and provide key advice on how to market the opportunities to ensure the best talent is found.

Higher Education


Hands up who’s ready for half term! Phew what a busy start to the academic year it’s been. At Dixon Walter, we’ve been busy working on some fantastic appointments with existing clients and new. Thank you to all those who continue to support us.