Louise Bickley

Louise Bickley

E: louise.bickley@wickland-westcott.email
T: +44 (0) 1625 508 100

Louise leads on the delivery of research projects supporting the Search, Talent and Career teams. Her experience has been gained through sales and marketing environments and the last 11 years within executive search and management consultancy. She has worked with a wide range of organisations and across a variety of sectors including Financial Services, Public Sector, Not For Profit, Education, Retail and Manufacturing and a variety of functional areas including procurement, business transformation and programme and project management both in the UK and Internationally.

Louise has a depth of knowledge regarding data management and associated systems. She is an ardent advocate of the efficiencies that can be gained to continuously improve the research function whilst adding value for our clients.

Running, netball and a good book.

Beth Armstrong

Beth Armstrong

T: +44 (0) 1625 508 100

Beth is a Chartered Member of the CIPD with a wealth of HR, change management, talent, team and leadership development expertise. Her experience spans a range of sectors including FMCG, manufacturing, IT outsourcing, supply chain, NHS, banking and professional services.

She has held operational, transformational and strategic roles including leading People/Culture related work streams for major restructuring projects, facilitating the development of business strategies and plans, designing and delivering leadership development initiatives, implementing assessment and career development solutions, and outplacement provision. She has led HR and L&D teams.

Beth has a keen interest in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and is an accredited INLPTA Trainer and Master Practitioner. She actively uses this in driving behavioural change, through coaching and developing individuals and business teams. Her main aim is to enable people and organisations to be the most flexible, resilient and resourceful that they can be in an ever-changing and complex business world.

Beth is also BPS level A and B qualified and certified in psychometric instruments.

Family time, in particular supporting her daughter’s keen gymnastics interest (she’s even been known to attempt some moves herself with varying degrees of success!). Beth enjoys reading business articles, journals, psychology and NLP related books.

Rachel Adshead

Rachel Adshead

E: rachel@wickland-westcott.email
T: +44 (0) 207 224 2071

As a Leadership Consultant, Rachel designs and delivers flagship assignments to help clients identify and develop their leadership talent. These include high potential, succession, career development and executive coaching programmes with major UK and global brands. She is passionate about partnering with clients to understand their world, ensuring that Wickland Westcott helps create value for leaders, their teams and their organisations.

As a member of the Business Operations Team, Rachel’s responsibilities also include contributing to the delivery of Wickland Westcott’s growth strategy. With extensive experience in professional service environments, Rachel previously worked for AstraZeneca, where she delivered a range of assignments including strategic HR projects and outplacement support.

Rachel holds a degree in Human Resource Management, and Level A & B qualifications in psychometrics. She is an Associate of the CIPD.

In her free time Rachel enjoys travelling, socialising with friends and the odd G&T #drinkresponsibly.

Adam Hillier

Adam Hillier

E: adam.hillier@wickland-westcott.email
T: +44 (0) 207 224 2071

Adam is a Search Consultant in our London office and is responsible for our Marketing and Digital Practice.

Prior to joining Wickland Westcott, Adam worked for Fortune Hill as Director of the Media and Entertainment Practice where he led Board level and senior management searches in Marketing, Digital and Commercial functions.

Adam’s early career was spent working for Arsenal FC, where he held senior Commercial and Marketing roles. He then joined Michael Page where he led a team that specialised in Marketing services and the media sector.

Adam specialises in Marketing, Digital and Commercial searches for a broad range of clients across consumer, media and online sectors. He has worked extensively with global FTSE organisations, AIM listed and VC and PE backed growth companies, identifying leadership to fill senior management positions across the UK and Europe.

He graduated with a First Class MBA in Football Industries from Liverpool University.

Family, Sports and Fitness

The Co-Op

Organisational Transformation Programme

Chief Executive Officer: "“Wickland Westcott has been instrumental in the identification and development of our leadership talent. They have been a key contributor to the renewal of The Co-op, providing insight and expertise to me and my team."


Leadership Development Programme

Senior Leadership Development Consultant: "I would highly recommend working with the team at Wickland Westcott on your talent or leadership development solutions – they are easy to do business with, yet meticulous in designing quality products/ services that match specifically with what we’re trying to achieve as an organisation. Our leaders have enhanced their leadership skills as a direct result of Wickland Westcott’s insightful and challenging coaching – thank you."


Innovative Talent Management Programme

HR Senior Controller: "The programme has been excellent. The Wickland Westcott team worked really hard to understand our business and the strategic drivers behind this initiative. This collaborative approach resulted in a bespoke programme which combined the benefits of an external provider with a real ‘Nissan feel’. It’s been really well received by both employees and management. The professionalism and commitment of the consultants was second to none.".

A Model for Learning Agility

A Model for Learning Agility

By John Milsom

Learning Agility can be defined as extent to which an individual is equipped to learn from their experience and apply these insights to new situations. In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, the importance of learning is paramount. Learning agility can also accelerate the diversity and inclusion agenda, as the more progressive organisations define their people requirements in terms of skills, and not just experiences, thereby increasing fairness and opening up untapped pools of talent.

At leadership consultancy Wickland Westcott we have studied research in this field, and combined with our own experience of working with leaders, identify six underpinning factors.

Cognitive Ability to make links and integrate new information, work deftly with complex ideas, entertain step-change and discontinuity, and handle ambiguity. Memory is a key component of this factor.

Learning Motivation relates to aspects of personality, in particular one of the big five dimensions – Openness to Experience. Learning Motivation is associated with high levels of curiosity, an intrinsic interest in learning, and an enduring thirst for gaining new experiences.

Emotional Intelligence. All four of the Goleman’s EI elements are important, in order to provide the emotional stability required for individuals to seek honest feedback and process it effectively.

The three core drivers described above are generally stable elements that can be tough to develop. However with focussed effort, changes are possible and indeed likely over an individual’s lifetime. The following three Accelerants are much more susceptible to change (in our view) – more easily developable within the shorter term.

Learning Capability refers to an individual’s proficiency in skills related to learning, including being able to spot valuable learning opportunities, planning learning-related activities, and building in time for preparation, personal reflection and knowledge consolidation.

Domain Experience refers to the experience the individual has accumulated. It is domain specific, rather than generic. This is a particularly interesting factor from an assessment perspective, because whilst experiencing something does tend to make it easier to learn about, there is no guarantee such learning actually accrues. This introduces the risk that ‘years of experience’ is erroneously treated by recruiters as a proxy for accumulated learning, damaging the fairness of the process and closing-off less domain-experienced but equally capable candidates.

Domain Aspiration relates to the person’s level of interest in learning within that specific field of expertise. Essentially, is the person interested in immersing her/himself in that discipline? It could be driven by a particular passion (eg. for a type of music, sport, or particular subject) or by a belief that developing oneself would be helpful (eg. in earning a promotion or achieving a long-term career goal). Without this absorption, the learning is unlikely to be sufficiently deep-rooted.

What next?

The identification of these six learning agility factors helps inform our assignments in finding and developing leaders. At Wickland Westcott we are learning all the time however, so if you have alternative views or would like to discuss any aspect of leadership, please contact John Milsom (Director) on 01625 508100 (john@wickland-westcott.email).

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Gazing at the Stars


By John Milsom

Identifying and developing individuals with the potential to lead is crucial to success in any organisation. Growing future leaders has however proved an enduring challenge. This article draws together emerging themes within the area, and explains how to implement a successful high-potential programme.

Identifying Potential

Most organisations use Leadership Frameworks within their Talent Management processes. Such frameworks often span several different organisational levels, and this breadth can limit their effectiveness. Attempting to use the full framework to evaluate whether an individual will make a good leader can therefore be too broad-brush and inaccurate. What is required is a more refined framework – measuring only those characteristics that truly predict. Fortunately, when it comes to leadership capability, research shows there is a small set of powerful indicators.

The Characteristics of Potential

Five clusters consistently emerge as most important:

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – Essentially this dimension is underpinned by an individual’s emotional intelligence. It relates to their self-awareness, their ability to manage their impact upon others, as well as emotional resilience, integrity and honesty. Strength here provides the foundations for building powerful relationships, as well as leading, motivating and inspiring others.
  • Change Orientation – An individual’s comfort within fluid and changeable situations, their appetite for seeking out new ideas and their willingness to change their own behaviour as a result of feedback. Essentially, this is about openness to learning from stretching experiences. This quality provides the foundation for key leadership competencies such as flexibility and transformational leadership.
  • Reasoning Ability – The ability to process complex information accurately, and to quickly form a holistic picture, simplifying and making sense of abstract data.
  • Drive – The passion and motivation to lead personal and organisational success. This dimension encompasses an individual’s willingness to expose him/herself to risk of failure and to make personal sacrifices in order to be successful. It correlates with energy, and tenacity.
  • Functional and Technical Knowledge – having a sound technical specialism that is strategically imperative to the organisation is a good predictor of potential in certain sectors, industries, organisations, functions and roles.

Measuring Potential

Evaluating future leaders against the above Characteristics of Potential is a good place to start. Sound psychometric tools combined with robust interviewing techniques provide the most effective way of tapping these five factors. Ability tests and personality questionnaires can be used in conjunction with structured interviews, and these are often included within assessment centres or 1:1 Executive assessments. Other tools such as observed business simulations and in-depth behavioural interviews can provide an unrivalled opportunity to test participants in a variety of situations under controlled conditions. Good exercises will include opportunities to reliably benchmark candidates. Structured scoring processes backed up by well-trained expert observers add rigour and fairness to the process. Whatever the precise process used, the key is to establish not only the person’s profile of strengths and development areas, but also the reasons why they have developed in this way. This enables us to predict how they will respond to learning opportunities in the future.

Just measuring the above five factors however, whilst absolutely essential, is totally insufficient. A robust measure of potential also needs to take into account the person’s current performance, and also their work experience to date, as the latter serves to amplify (or constrain) the realisation of potential.

Current performance data can be gained by looking at existing appraisal forms, results against KPIs, and manager feedback. Sometimes, however, it can be more difficult than one might imagine to obtain fair, objective current performance data, so other tools can be deployed including the assessment centres or 1:1 Executive assessments described above. 360 degree questionnaires can also play a useful role in capturing insights from colleagues and direct reports.

The person’s work experience to date, and the sets of experience they need in the future to realise their potential, is an area too often neglected. What type and scale of leadership situations has this individual experienced, and how did he/she respond to them? An appreciation of their career journey, and the events and situations they have been exposed to, is crucial in understanding the context in which their behaviour has developed. This can be measured by asking them to produce a detailed CV or to complete a work-history pro-forma. They can be encouraged to highlight particularly challenging or developmental situations they have faced. Then back this up with an interview process, where the assessor probes what the individual has seen, what development they have received and what knowledge and skills they have picked up from these experiences.

Top Tips

If you are thinking of introducing a project to identify and develop leadership potential, these points should help:

  1. How much do the key stakeholders in your organisation recognise this as a critical business imperative? If there is little shared understanding of its importance, build the business case by linking this initiative to the core business strategy and goals. Case studies of organisations that do this well can help build support.
  2. Select a reliable partner to work with you in measuring your people’s potential. This partner must not only reach accurate judgements, but must do so in a sensitive, constructive and inclusive way, so that your most valuable employees are energised by the process – excited about developing themselves into tomorrow’s leaders. We at Wickland Westcott excel in this type of work.
  3. Think carefully about whether you will make public (within the organisation) those people who are high potentials and (therefore, inevitably) those people who are not. This area needs careful handling and again a competent assessment /development partner will be able to guide you in handling this issue.
  4. Ensure you have budget to support the development and growth of those identified with potential. Dependent on your timeframes, you may find you have to fast-track those where there is a critical business need.
  5. Ensure that, as far as is possible, the development solutions you provide to your high-potentials are on-the-job real-time projects that expose them to current, critical business issues. Remember, the right experience helps convert potential into reality.
  6. From the outset, measure the results. Monitor the high-potentials as they progress through the business and seek to evaluate the return on the money invested in them.

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