23 September 2012

SJ Leatherdale – Partner in Odgers Interim’s Healthcare & Education Teams

So, SJ, you’re the Partner in the Odgers Interim Healthcare team... How long have you been with the firm?

I have been with Odgers since 2006. Interestingly, I was initially hired as an Interim to cover a colleague’s maternity leave. Shortly after she returned, I accepted a full time role with the firm. I specialised in executive interim recruitment for the Education sector for several years and following the retirement of one of our partners, I took on responsibility for the Health practice as well.

When was the department actually established?

Our Interim business has been operating since 2000 and we have always had a solid presence in the Health sector throughout that time.

How many people work with you in the team and can you tell us a bit about them?

There are five of us in the team. Dan Kiely – Consultant - compliments our offering in our London office and Dan is an experienced Interim recruiter, who joined us in early 2012 from a well-known multinational recruitment firm. Sarah Lovell – Consultant -  is our expert in the North. Sarah has a wealth of recruitment experience and is very well-networked throughout the NHS. We are also supported by Eloise Shepherd and Hannah Elwiss who work as our team PAs.

What are the main areas you specialise in?

The majority of our roles can broadly be split into two areas; on one hand, we work on the traditional ‘interim management’ roles (Heads of Service, Directors, CEO/COO-level posts) which tend to arise when a senior member of staff leaves a client’s organisation unexpectedly or at short notice. And on the other hand, we work with clients which are looking to run programmes of significant change, to introduce Interims who are capable of leading them through large-scale transformation.

What kinds of clients do you work with?

Our networks in the NHS are - and have always been - very strong. As the NHS reforms continue, we are working with a number of Acute Trusts as well as the emergent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Commissioning Support Units (CSUs) to ensure that they are well-positioned to make the most of the NHS’ new operating structure. We also work with private healthcare providers – both those running private clinics and those who have recently won contracts to provide NHS services to the public. In addition, the regulatory landscape has changed significantly in recent years and we are working with those involved to help them manage that transition.

What's the most interesting role you have dealt with over the past few months?

I recently worked with a large NHS Trust in the South East, which was looking to appoint a Transformation Director on an interim basis. In addition to the very specific and detailed requirements we were given, I was also asked to sit on the interview panel, which included the Trust’s Chief Executive. As you would expect for such a senior position, the process was extremely thorough and the applicants were really put through their paces, both by the panel and in the form of extensive referencing.

With change/transformation being such common ‘buzzwords’ at the moment, we were keen to ensure that we appointed a candidate with a demonstrable track record of measurable delivery, rather than someone who was simply adept at ‘talking the talk’. The appointed candidate has an exceptionally strong record across both the public and private sectors and it will be fascinating to see what he is able to achieve with the Trust.

How do you think you add value to the organisations you work with?

Ultimately, we understand our sector. We have a strong reputation across public & private Healthcare and we maintain this through consistent delivery in the thorough and professional fashion which people expect from Odgers. In addition to that, we’d like to think that we’re completely transparent and passionate about what we do.

What sort of roles are you seeing most of at the moment?

There is a lot of board-level movement at the moment, particularly within the NHS. We’ve seen a raft of CIO, COO, Finance Director and Director of Nursing roles in recent months and they show little sign of stopping. The role of the ‘Accountable Officer’ is ever-increasing as well, mostly thanks to the emergence of the CCGs. That said, I think we have seen more Programme Director/Transformation Director roles than anything else of late.

And why is that?

The ongoing NHS reforms are undoubtedly at the heart of this movement. Particularly in the case of the CSUs/CCGs as it makes perfect sense for Interim Managers to undertake a lot of the transition work – they offer specialist skills in the disciplines of change management and organisational development, which may not be immediately available in the average NHS Trust.

What are your predictions for 12 to 24 months and do you see the market shifting?

The next year or two looks set to be an extremely busy time for the Health sector. The sector arguably hasn’t seen change on this scale since the NHS was first established over sixty years ago.  As a result, Interim Management is likely to continue to play a significant part in the ongoing reforms, against a backdrop of increased scrutiny on the use of interim managers in the sector.

To learn more about SJ and the Healthcare team’s work, visit the Healthcare page.

Categories: Healthcare


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