Finding Businesses the Right Recruitment Solution

We've supported some of the worlds largest businesses.

“We have had a long and successful engagement with Shirley Parsons, and during each round of recruitment I’ve been highly impressed with the way that the team have taken the time to get to know our full business requirements and have worked hard to meet our very bespoke needs.”


Our client: A multi-national technology company employing over 100,000 staff worldwide Our client’s UK&I unit was winning a lot of business in the managed service space – which tends to be 24/7 with huge operational risk. 

There was scope for them to win a lot more business, but they did not have a senior individual leading on the HSE strategy. This was a concern going forward, as their growth increased their risk exposure. Additionally, due to the various different contractual agreements they have in place, it means that they are open to customer audits that can often differ widely, dependent on whom the customer is. The role, therefore, had a large customer interface element to it, requiring a commercially astute individual with strong client facing skills. Our client was recommended by another HR director to approach us to discuss their need for a Director of HSE with a European remit.

As this was a brand new role for this business unit we were asked by the HR Director to create the job specification ourselves. Once done, we worked closely with HR to create a person specification, something of particular importance given that the position had dual reporting lines to two very different characters. It was also clear that a leadership gap in terms of HSE was present and that hearts and minds needed to be won over. This collaborative process is often key to ensuring a smooth ride for all parties throughout the recruitment process, this is certainly what panned out once our search commenced on this occasion.

Our personal networks were vital to providing fast and efficient delivery. Personality and leadership ability were weighted heavily in our search criteria and we were able to save time by identifying ‘known’ candidates who may be suitable, whilst in tandem dedicating a researcher to uncover other candidates working within organisations of a similar profile. Our long list of 60 was reduced by our interviewing process to a shortlist of 12, for whom we compiled information packs to discuss with our client in a meeting attended by HR and the two key stakeholders. Five candidates were selected for a first stage HR interview, based on a mixture of our recommendations and discussion on the various merits of certain individuals against the context of current challenges within the organisation.

Two clear contenders were identified at the client’s first interview stage and an appointment followed after two subsequent stages which involved 4 other stakeholders. We were able to help both parties come to an agreement regarding relocation assistance and kept communication between ourselves, the client, and the candidate alive as the notice period was served and as the successful candidate was on-boarded.



Our client: A leading contract catering and hospitality business with ambitious plans to double its turnover over the next few years.

Our brief from the Chief Executive was to identify suitable candidates for a HSSE Director post. It was felt that the company needed to add leadership capability in the area to deliver the business growth they had targeted. This was the first time the company had recruited a board level appointment within this discipline and they wanted to enlist this assistance of a market specialist to achieve this.  Having successfully taken part in a competitive bid process we were awarded the assignment.

We developed a formal job spec and profile based on our brief with the Chief Executive. This was signed off and we commenced our approach of the marketplace. It was apparent early on that suitable candidates would require not only the correct strategic abilities but also a strong industry-specific background to deal with technical aspects of the role.  Growth plans were important to the client so the individual needed to demonstrate ambition, commercial awareness and the ability to drive performance at board level.

During the initial research process, we identified a number of relevant industry sectors and targeted companies within these. We also started to raise awareness of this opportunity amongst our existing executive network. Due to the seniority of the role and its confidential nature we were required to conduct a thorough, discreet screening process. Following the completion of 12 pre-screen interviews, we produced a strong shortlist of 5 profiles for submittal. These profiles were reviewed in conjunction with the client and a formal interview schedule was established.

Following a final stage meeting with the Chief Executive our preferred candidate was formally offered the role, which was accepted. The candidate was kept warm throughout the onboarding process, this was essential to mitigate against any counter offer scenarios during the notice period. The overall success of this campaign was only achieved through an open, collaborative working relationship with the client. The successful candidate had been part of our existing network; this ability to build long-term mutually beneficial partnerships sets us apart within the marketplace.




Our client:  A german automotive firm with a large scale complex site with ongoing HSE issues.

“Liam and his team provided an excellent and efficient service; sourcing a number of potential candidates for a very challenging, unique and complex role. Outcome: position filled in record time by a high-potential safety professional with leadership savvy, and courage to challenge the way we do things.”

We were asked to find a strategic thinker who would provide leadership and direction to deliver increasingly urgent improvements. This large site had ongoing issues with underperformance and lacked leadership. Our briefing meeting was designed to capture their key criteria so that we could work with the client to create a bespoke person specification. Complex manufacturing and engineering experience were going to be essential, as was a background in a lean processing environment. The client also needed someone with German-based working experience, due to important cultural and union nuances. This was on top of the necessity for a bi-lingual German and English speaker. Having gained a thorough understanding of these requirements, we were in a position to start a pan-European search.

The initial challenge was finding people at the right level of seniority, who were also happy with a single-site role; though the site is vast, it being run by one of Europe’s largest automakers. We predominantly overcame this problem by generating referrals throughout our longlisting stage. We looked at similar organisations within the region, and targeted their senior leaders. Those who were not interested were often happy to recommend a suitably experienced industry peer who potentially was. After a 6 week process we were in a position to shortlist 4 candidates to attend interview. Overall we had generated a longlist of 49 candidates against a highly-specified brief; 24 of which we conducted in-depth interviews with to assess their suitability.

We took a return trip to the site to present our final shortlist. The client moved forward with 3 candidates from our shortlist, and embarked on a panel-based interview with representatives from HR, the wider safety team and plant management. Part of the selection process was focused on uncovering disciplined but creative thinkers; a presentation was set up to help showcase these attributes. After the presentation stage the preferred individual was brought forward for final discussions and a site tour. This final phase helped ensure the individual fully understood one of the main challenges they would be faced with; a complex, heavily unionised 24/7 environment. We were confident the preferred candidate would be both capable and fulfilled with regards to the scale of the role. We secured their appointment, and it was an added bonus that the candidate was available immediately after finishing a recent interim role.

The overall success of this process hinged on Shirley Parsons’ mission to build long-term sustainable relationships. Although we uncovered a significant number of new people, the successful candidate happened to be part of our existing network. Our client was very pleased with a comprehensive yet expedited service, in the face of various challenges due to the scope of the requirement.

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Shirley Parsons Ltd
4th Floor, Blue Leanie
Walton Street
Aylesbury, Bucks
HP21 7QW

General: +44(0) 1296 611 300

Shirley Parsons Ltd
6-8 Market Place
Reading, Berkshire

General: +44(0) 1296 611 300