Dr Becca Franssen joins us from Perrett Laver and brings with her almost a decade of executive search experience placing diverse leaders across the Education sector, with a passion and commitment to diversity & inclusion at every step of the recruitment process – a perfect match for GS.
Prior to her executive search experience, working with a wide range of institutions and organisations, Becca had an early academic career at both the University of Westminster and King’s College London. She spent several years in the Admissions Office at the American School in London, as well as coaching basketball, football and athletics there. Earlier in her career, Becca worked in advancement at the University of Alberta and for the Government of Ontario.
Becca works with the Education Team to appoint outstanding candidates in leadership roles in universities and the wider education sector. Her focus in search has been to build diverse and creative candidate fields, while ensuring that each candidate has a positive experience through the process. She is committed to EDI and delivering this through every search.
What’s your career history to date?
Before coming to GS, I spent the past eight years in executive search at Perrett Laver. I started there as a Researcher and over time progressed to Partner. I was also the chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee at PL. I worked on a range of roles in HE and beyond, becoming the only member of the consulting team to lead and deliver projects across all of PL’s practice groups.
Before moving into search, I had an early academic career at King’s College London and the University of Westminster and spent a few years working in admissions at the American School in London, as well as coaching various sports teams there.
Earlier in my career I worked for the Government of Ontario and the University of Alberta.
What’s your biggest career highlight to date?
The highlight of my search career is working on the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge. Cambridge is an incredibly complex organisation with a wide range of stakeholders. Although perhaps the most over-engineered process I have been a part of, it was great to speak to so many world-class, international candidates, and build a sense of consensus across a very large and diverse selection panel.
Outside of search, a definite highlight is coaching my girls football team to back-to-back Division 1 International Secondary School Tournament (ISST) championships.
What brought you to GS?
Like many candidates in our processes, my interest and excitement about GS grew as I got to know the organisation better. The more I heard about GS, the more interested I became. The first thing that really struck me was the deep commitment to the organisational values and living these through every search. In early conversations with Julia Roberts, it was clear to me that the firm’s values were deeply embedded in the process. There was also a very strong resonance around EDI, not only helping our clients build diverse teams and create inclusive processes but also ensuring that GS is a fair and equitable place to work.
As I moved forward in my conversations with colleagues, I came to understand OneGS and the desire to work collaboratively across practice groups. There is so much potential in developing expertise at these points of intersection, that this was a big draw for me.
How will you be supporting our clients and candidates?
Having worked in HE search for so long, I bring a good depth of knowledge of the sector, as well as the challenges and trends facing HE and the public sector more broadly. As I have delivered searches across practice groups, I also understand how some challenges are resonant across sectors and where we can draw on internal expertise to deliver for our candidates and clients.
I am committed to delivering inclusive and comprehensive processes for our clients and compassionate and informative experiences for our candidates.
What in particular in the education sector are you passionate about?
I am a firm believer in FE and HE and the transformative impact education can have on individuals.
I also believe that HEIs and research institutes are centres of innovation and creativity, they have the potential to do so much for society. However, in my experience, many universities are stymied by institutional inertia and struggle to meet the demands of the current environment and the modern student.
I hope that by helping make the right appointments, I can help organisations get out of their own way and adapt swiftly to the ever-changing landscape.
Beyond this, I feel strongly that university leadership teams need to be representative of their constituents. Not only do we need to ensure leadership teams have broad perspectives, but we also need to search for those whose lived experiences have some synergy with those whom they lead on behalf of. Through this, I hope we can help build teams with truly empathetic leadership, who develop policies and practices that benefit their students and staff, not just their institutional ranking.
How important is an inclusive recruitment process and how can education organisations ensure they’re adopting diverse practices?
Inclusive recruitment is so important, particularly if you want to get the best out of the field and out of each candidate.
Inclusive recruitment goes far beyond ensuring diversity in the candidate field, it’s ensuring that every candidate has the potential to thrive through the process.
Organisations need to have a great deal of self-reflection when working to build a diverse team and an inclusive process; they can ask us to bring them diverse talent, but they need to really think about what they are doing to ensure candidates can succeed in the post. The role of their search consultant is to help guide that reflection through asking the sometimes difficult questions, and really testing clients on their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
What’s your take on the state of leadership within Education right now?
As above, I think that universities, even those that are more modern, struggle to adapt to changes in the sector, whether they be regulatory or market-driven. Some of the best appointments I have participated in or witnessed are those which may be seen to be ‘riskier’. Some institutions are moving away from regulatory box-ticking and more toward innovation and creativity and this is demonstrated in the types of appointment they make. I hope to continue to support institutions in these transitions.
Tell us a little about you outside of work?
I currently live in southwest Germany with my husband, Mark, and my two lively sprockers, Mopsy (two) and Socks (six months). Mark is an Officer in the RAF and is currently serving with NATO at Ramstein Airbase. We live in a tiny village called Hütschenhausen, which is surrounded by beautiful German countryside and lots of cows. I have a stepdaughter, Ellie, who is almost 15. I’ve spent the past year introducing (indoctrinating) her to classic video games including Tetris, Super Mario World and Dr Mario; all played on an original Super Nintendo.
I’m an avid reader, and amateur chilli grower, and love participating in – sometimes extreme – sporting events. I have ambitions to run a marathon early next year; running 42.2km when I hit 42.2 years.