Three New Directors Help Chart Path towards Achieving Charity’s Vision

The Opportunity

When Chief Executive Nick Wilkie joined the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in the summer of 2015, he was already deeply inspired by their mission to support all parents’ first 1,000 days. As he set out to develop a strategy to accomplish just that, NCT revisited its organisational design. Nick explains “we wanted to bring new ideas and energy into the organisation bring six departments into three, and reduce silo working.” In order to achieve this, NCT created two new executive director posts.

This is when Russam GMS stepped in to help.

NCT were looking to find inspirational and ambitious individuals to fill those roles, and had asked Russam GMS to conduct an executive search to support them in identifying and appointing an Executive Director of Parent Services and Executive Director of Communications and Development. Russam GMS were also asked to find a Head of Volunteering to fit into the new hierarchy.

The Outcomes

Nick Wilkie has three things he looks for in every person who comes to NCT: that they are “nice, well-organised, and up for it”.

By “nice” Nick means that he needs people who can disagree confidently, engaging in honest and open discussions that will ultimately move the organisation in the right direction. “I don’t mean that we all need to be unrelentingly positive. Or that we’re trying to create a friendship group. But when you really work well together, that’s when you’re able and comfortable to disagree. So by being nice, I do mean being cheerful and pleasant to work with, but more fundamentally I mean having no ego, high on confidence and high on humility.”

By being well-organised, Nick looks for people who do what they say they will, and by “up for it” he’s looking for those who share a passion for the charity’s mission.

He tends to privilege attributes above experience, although it can be challenging to interview and test for them. Both NCT and Russam GMS understand that the search process begins long before finding candidates. It starts through developing a clear idea of what the role will actually look like, and then what sort of candidates will be the most impactful in that role.

“We pay for your consultancy to sharpen our thinking about exactly what the role is, and for the longlist and for the candidate handling. And being able to prise good people away. I rate Melissa’s ability to convince a candidate to take a look over my own,” Nick says.

Melissa Baxter, Director of Executive Search, has a clear understanding of what Nick and NCT are looking for when they recruit for senior roles. Of Melissa, Nick says that she’s “Very good at understanding us. She’s very perceptive. I think she’s very committed. She’s very tenacious. She’s very available. I think she has a real passion about helping charities fulfil their mission by placing great people. I’m a big fan of Russam GMS.”


  • When Nick Wilkie joined NCT as Chief Executive he had three objectives which were to add new energy and ideas to the organisation, to bring 6 departments into 3, and to reduce silo working
  • NCT asked Russam GMS to appoint three roles to help achieve those goals: Executive Director of Parent Services, Executive Director of Communications and Development and Head of Volunteering
  • Russam GMS helped sharpen NCT’s thinking around how they hired for those roles leading to success

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