Oct 07, 2021

ClientEarth Case Study

The Client and Scope of Work:

ClientEarth established in 2008 in London by ex-Wall Street Lawyer James Thornton. His mission was to use the law to protect the environment and ClientEarth is now the world’s most ambitious environmental organisation.

Today they are a team of over 200 people across eight offices, dedicated to protecting life on Earth. ClientEarth works in over 50 countries, ingeniously using the law to create systemic change. Their focus is on the most pressing environmental challenges because a future in which people and planet thrive together isn't just possible - it's essential.

In 2020 Rachel Hewitt, ClientEarth’s inaugural CFO, joined the organisation. The rapid growth and ambitions of the organisation meant Rachel created the position of Head of Financial Planning & Analysis, to bring together the international programme-focused finance business partner team and the central Financial Planning & Analysis function. A key focus of this role would be ClientEarth’s 5-year Financial Strategy, developing KPIs for financial health and resilience, and implementing a new financial planning tool.

The Challenge:

Initially, ClientEarth sought to recruit the position into either one of two international offices, Berlin and Warsaw. Due to the relative lack of INGOs in those two cities, it was difficult to find candidates with the relevant institutional donor experience and knowledge. After failing to find a strong enough pool of candidates, ClientEarth decided to look to London, where the rest of the finance team is based, and which has a larger pool of finance professionals with the relevant INGO experience. The charity fared slightly better this time around but lost a candidate to another opportunity and had no back-up candidates for the role. At this point, given Robbie and Altum’s previous work placing a FP&A Manager and a Finance Business Partner with the organisation, Rachel and Robbie met and discussed how Altum would approach the role and secure a successful resolution if engaged.

The Solution and Result:

Given Robbie’s understanding of the set-up of ClientEarth and relationship with Rachel, they were able to get straight to the issue at hand – finding a candidate with the passion, skills and experience needed to succeed in this role. As ClientEarth had already spent a lot of time on the recruitment for this role, Robbie suggested a retained solution; ClientEarth would make an up-front payment to outsource the first stage of recruitment to Altum Consulting.

A retained process secured the teams dedicated resources to map out the market, identify and contact suitable candidates through their network and other means, and first stage interviews being conducted using interview questions approved by ClientEarth.

Once the first interviews were completed Robbie and his team shortlisted the candidates and presented them in a report to ClientEarth. The report included candidate scores for their answers and with a summary of their careers and Altum’s determination of their suitability for the role.

After the presentation ClientEarth took four of the six candidates to the second interview stage. These interviews went well, and an offer was made, with a second very strong candidate who would have been made an offer had the preferred candidate not accepted.

In the unlikely event ClientEarth hadn’t been satisfied with the shortlist, Altum would have kept sourcing until a strong-enough shortlist was presented and likewise if a candidate wasn’t appointed, Altum would have kept searching for the role until one was.

This was an extremely positive outcome after a tough search for ClientEarth.

Client Testimonial: Rachel Hewitt CFO:

From our first meeting, I felt Robbie understood the role and my priorities for the FP&A team. Based on this, he was able to source high quality candidates very quickly.

Using the retained process of shortlisting and conducting first interviews saved me time at the initial stages, but I felt engaged throughout, with regular updates. The report provided after first interviews gave me a really good feel for the candidates and their experience, enabling me to select the four I felt would be the best fit for interview with a panel comprising finance and non-finance colleagues. We ended the process with two very strong and appointable candidates.

We have appointed a fantastic person with a great range of skills and experience, and I am delighted with the outcome.

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