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Commercial Leadership for B&FC

Blackpool & The Fylde CollegeBlackpool and The Fylde College has a reputation for academic excellence built upon a passion for learning, talented staff, exceptional resources and a commitment to learner support that is second to none. The College is outstanding in so many ways; from recent Ofsted and Quality Assurance Agency reports and award winning national training programmes to customer service excellence and prudent associations with World Class organisations, making the College a compelling and trusted learning environment. As part of its ambitious growth strategy and determination to continue to raise educational standards and meet student aspirations, the College identified the need to recruit an experienced, commercially-oriented Executive Director to lead the growth programme and seize the opportunities offered by the changing landscape within the educational sector. The remit for the new Executive Director was to lead business growth and customer engagement strategies designed to maximise revenue streams and increase profitability. An important member of the Leadership Team, reporting directly to the CEO, the Director would exert influence across all areas of the organisation, providing insightful, commercial leadership to capitalise on the College’s excellent reputation and expansion proposition in order to service the needs of customers and increase student numbers.

Following their success in the search to find a CEO for Blackpool & The Fylde College, Wickland Westcott was invited to lead the search for the new Executive Director. The brief was clear and allowed significant scope in creating the talent pool, requiring an impressive, commercially-oriented candidate with a track record in broad shared services, gained within highly complex and customer-centric organisations. The ‘sell’ to candidates was the exciting opportunity to help the College meet its ambitions through commercial leadership and really make a difference in enhancing its growth, influence and profile - not just across the region, but also through national development. Wickland Westcott’s search strategy focused on identifying and attracting candidates from a wide pool across the public/private interface, with an emphasis on identifying those individuals with the right skills and style to adapt to the complexity of Further Education. Sectors targeted included Further and Higher Education, private sector training providers, skills bodies, enterprise zones, inward investment organisations, utilities, telecoms and individuals from the private sector experienced in selling support services to the public sector.

The search delivered a balanced shortlist with candidates selected from private and public sector backgrounds with the appointed candidate coming from a major telecoms provider, where he acted as the commercial lead for several business units.  Acknowledging that the decision to appoint an Executive Director from the private sector presented a degree of risk for the College, the CEO worked closely with Wickland Westcott to design a recruitment process which incorporated an induction/onboarding programme to support the new Executive Director in becoming attuned to the sector. This has proved to be an insightful appointment for the College and, after six months in post, the new Executive Director has made a significant contribution to the commercial development of the organisation.

Principal/CEO, Bev Robinson, commented: “This was an important appointment for Blackpool and The Fylde College. It was crucial that the Search partner we chose would not only understand our objectives and operating culture, but would also be connected with, and able to bring to the table,  those individuals who would have the vision to see this as an exciting place to use their commercial experience to good effect. Our experience of working with Wickland Westcott previously was very positive and made them a natural choice for this search. Our new Executive Director has now been in post for six months and we are delighted with the contribution he has already made”.