Alex joined GatenbySanderson in June 2023, specialising in Executive Leadership, Chairs, Treasurer, Trustees and Non-Executive appointments across the Not-for-Profit sector. He has a breadth of experience and a proven record of cultivating positive relationships and working in partnership with a broad range of senior stakeholders to create bespoke search strategies that are inclusive and attract diverse executive talent.
Alex is the Chair of the Trustee Board of Home-Start Southwark, supporting organisational capacity building and diversity, equity, and inclusion across all levels of the charity. He is also a proactive and passionate member of the Race and Disabilities affinity groups at GatenbySanderson.
What brought you to GS?
It felt like the right place to come and join. I have always known about GS, as one of the leading recruiters within the Not for Profit sector. Diversity and inclusion are really important to me. Seeing Jade’s role as Diversity & Inclusion Advisor within the organisation and how inclusion and diversity are embedded in the values and the culture of the organisation was a really big pull.
And then just everybody that I’ve met through the interview process; it felt like the right culture fit and that’s really come to life over the last few weeks I’ve been working here.
Is Executive Recruitment a new territory for you?
I have worked in the recruitment industry for about 20 years. I started my career in traditional High Street recruitment, before transitioning into specialist boutique-style executive search. For the last eight years I have worked within the Not for Profit sector; partnering with charities, social enterprises, and B Corporations, often on some of the most complex and challenging Executive and Board appointments.
Working with the not-for-profit sector has been the most rewarding position I have held. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a broad range of organisations, creating bespoke search strategies and making diverse and impactful appointments.
At GS, we place significant focus and care on all stages of the candidate journey, starting from a high-quality bespoke microsite and social media campaign, to building a talent pipeline for future leaders from underrepresented groups, right the way through to supporting appointed candidates through their first hundred days transitioning into their new roles. It’s so rewarding when you can see the impact a new appointee has had in transforming their organisation, or evolving the services they provide for their beneficiaries.
What attracts you to the Not for Profit sector?
Having the opportunity to move into the Not for Profit sector was something I always wanted to do. Growing up I experienced social inequalities and barriers, battling significant economic, racial, and social obstacles. I’ve done a lot of mentoring and coaching, particularly for young, disadvantaged people, as a volunteer. I wanted to take this one step further and support Not for Profit organisations to build inclusive leadership teams and Boards, whilst removing the barriers to applications from candidates from marginalised communities and underrepresented groups.
I absolutely love what we do. I believe we can support our clients to achieve positive change by working in partnership to identify, recruit and develop diverse talent. Building inclusive recruitment processes and attracting talented candidates means we can have a positive impact not only on the Not for Profit organisation, but also on all their beneficiaries, their families, and their communities. We can have a positive and long-lasting impact on thousands of people if we do our job correctly.
What do you think the priorities are for leaders in the Not for Profit sector?
The cost-of-living crisis means that charities have never been more needed. We’re more reliant on charities now than ever. Not for Profit CEOs, Trustees and Chairs are required to provide clear leadership to deliver the organisation’s mission, vision and values whilst navigating their organisations through challenging external environments, difficult funding landscapes and increasingly complex needs of their beneficiaries.
Being able to provide the support structures for the leaders we place into different Not for Profit organisations, is key to the long-term success of that placement. Enabling our placements to make meaningful connections with other leaders across the sector is vital; whether it is directing placements to membership groups and organisations like the Associations of Chairs, ACEVO or NPC, working with them to find an experienced mentor or coach or just being there with regular check-in calls, coffees, and lunches.
What else are you passionate about?
I’m the Chair of a charity called Home-Start Southwark. I think Imposter Syndrome in leadership positions is very common and at times overwhelming. I’ve learned how important it is to have a strong network of peers around you. It can feel lonely and isolating having responsibility for all the staff, volunteers and for all the beneficiaries. So many people worry whether they have the skills, experience, and knowhow to navigate challenging and demanding situations. It can be reassuring to have a conversation with other chairs or CEO’s who are going through the same struggles as you. They are often your best sounding board, positively challenging but mostly your biggest cheerleaders when you need them the most.
I’m always encouraging people to take on trustee and board positions, as it is the most rewarding thing that you can do if you can find an organisation that you’re passionate about. I grew up in a single parent household. There were five of us and there were lots of challenges that that we faced as a family. Being the Chair of a charity which empowers families in Southwark and Lewisham who face challenging situations and supporting them to create happier lives for their children, is a very privileged and rewarding position.