Webinar Series


At Starfish we use our integrity and insight to bring leaders – and aspiring leaders – together with organisations who share their values. We deliver board level recruitment with purpose, sustainability and influence. We want to strengthen the connection between the recruitment of great leaders and social change and are as experienced at working with senior executives as we are with non-executive leaders to achieve this. 

Supporting candidates through a recruitment process is very important to us and we are therefore running a series of webinars, with partners City CV, aimed at supporting both established and aspiring leaders. The individuals we support range from mid-career professionals to top executives, CEOs, non-executive directors, and members of the board.

If the webinars are something that you’re interested in, please do visit the links below for more information and details of how to register.

Career Masterclass: Becoming a Non-Executive Director – Personal branding and interview skills
Wednesday 1st December 2021 | 12pm – 1pm GMT

Career Masterclass: Getting the best out of your career
Wednesday 19th January 2022 | 12.30pm – 1.30pm GMT

Career Masterclass: Enhancing your CV & LinkedIn Profile
Wednesday 2nd March 2022 | 12.30pm – 1.30pm GMT

Career Masterclass: Preparing for an interview – what you should be thinking about
Wednesday 13th April 2022 | 12.30pm – 1.30pm GMT

DEI Masterclass: Sorry, not sorry: Why women apologise too much, the impact on our career and how to shift the narrative
Wednesday 25th May 2022 | 12.30pm – 1.30pm GMT

The webinars will be delivered by Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO of City CV, and one of the senior consultants at Starfish Search. In a live Q&A, we will answer your specific questions relating to you and your career.

Webinar – City CV and Starfish Search present “Becoming a Non-Executive Director – Personal branding and interview skills”

Date & Time: Wed, Dec 1, 2021 12 PM – 1 PM GMT

URL: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3997111113595795980

Looking to launch a portfolio career? Ready for a change of direction and a step up? Competition for board roles is fierce and it’s never been more important to understand the Non-Executive Director role and what recruiters look for in a NED CV.

Starfish Search and City CV, the international award-winning career and CV writing consultancy, are partnering to present a FREE online live training session to help you formulate your NED brand and create a strong and authentic CV which will get you noticed for the right reasons. Expertise and insider knowledge gathered from years of international board-level recruiting, branding, and executive and NED CV writing will be shared, followed by an interactive Q&A with the Starfish team and Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO of City CV.

Besides the webinar series, Starfish Search has launched the 50NEDs Challenge this month, aiming to help to contribute 50 ‘boardroom ready’ first time non-executives by the end of 2023: our hope is that, by setting ourselves this target, we can do our bit to break down the barriers that exist when it comes to getting appointed to board roles without having any board experience. Our 50NEDs microsite is free to use and contains honest articles and materials to help support would be non-executives as they start their own journey to getting a first board role. We hope you find it insightful and informative – https://50neds.starfishsearch.com.

Starfish Search. Leadership journeys, expertly navigated.

Starfish launches The 50NED Challenge

Today, Starfish launches The 50NED Challenge. Coinciding with the start of Black History Month, our aim is to help to contribute, 50 ‘boardroom ready’ first time non-executives by the end of 2023: our hope is that, by setting ourselves this target, we can do our bit to break down the barriers that exist when it comes to getting appointed to board roles without having any board experience. We want to encourage and support would-be non-executives from all walks of life who want to join boards, but simply don’t know how to access opportunities and get started.

Our 50NEDs microsite is free to use and contains honest articles and materials to help support would be non-executives as they start their own journey to getting a first board role. We also have a series of videos of non-executives sharing their advice and personal journeys. We hope you find it insightful and informative.

https://50neds.starfishsearch.com or click the link below.

Talent 20 feature in the MJ magazine

Starfish Search is passionate about spotting, supporting and developing talented local government officers with potential. In our second Talent 20 feature, published in the MJ magazine, we are delighted to place a spotlight on another twenty local government leaders of the future, this time focusing on children’s and adult social care, education, communities and public health.

To view the article please the image below

Driving Change in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through strategic HR

Starfish Search is delighted to be supporting the Charity HR Network (CHRN) autumn conference.

Driving Change in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through strategic HR.

Date: 23rd September 2021

For more information on this event please visit, https://www.chrn.org.uk/what-we-do/chrn-conference-2021/

Our session is entitled DEI and the brain – Kate Pearlman-Shaw (Clinical Psychologist and Associate at Starfish Search) and Katy Giddens (Director, Starfish Search) will lead this session.


NCVO and ACEVO join forces to support charities on flexible working

A new working group to look at the issue of flexible working in the charity sector is being launched by membership bodies NCVO and ACEVO with support from Starfish Search.


The issue of flexible working has become all the more crucial due to the rise in home working during the pandemic. A recent survey of charity professionals found that 90% wanted flexible working to continue long-term, and 43% said that they would never apply for a job that was entirely office-based. Yet, the research also raised concerns, with 72% admitting they worked longer hours at home and that boundaries between home and work were a challenge.


The working group will address some of the barriers and stigma about flexible working as well as sharing examples of good practice across the sector. It will be chaired by Becky Hewitt, former CEO of Changing Faces, and will include up to ten members from across the voluntary sector who have a diversity of experiences and views to share. The group will report their findings later this year, which will include signposting to key resources on flexible working to support voluntary organisations.


To view/download the full press release please click here.

Talent 20 Article

Starfish was very excited to be able to champion the upcoming talent in the local government sector with this feature we wrote for the MJ magazine, highlighting 20 rising stars in the Place portfolio of services.  We will run more of these in the coming months, focusing on different areas of local government.

To view the article please the image below

The hard and soft skills of successful non-executive directors

When applying for board positions, non-executive directors are expected to bring strategic and leadership skills to the table. In today’s challenging business climate, soft skills are also in high demand. 

Having a wealth of experience to bring to a non-executive board position is a clear advantage. Application processes for board roles are competitive, and the time to put your case forward is limited.

So, how do you prepare yourself when applying for non-executive directorships? 

Juliet Taylor, CEO of board recruiters Starfish Search, says, “Understand what the gap is that the organisation is trying to fill and make sure you are clear and confident about what you can offer.”


What is your signature skill? 

Across the globe, companies are experiencing extensive regulatory, technological and financial challenges. Managing business through these challenges requires highly-skilled and experienced board directors. 

“Most boards look for: knowledge, governance expertise, networks, and connection with audiences,” says Taylor. 

“You don’t have to bring all four things, though, so [ask yourself] what’s your signature contribution?”

You can make a difference.

Highly valued non-executive directors are well-versed in emotional intelligence – they can quickly grasp other people’s characteristics and agendas. 

“Understanding the nuance of board roles is also important,” says Taylor. “Consider where the organisation is trying to get to and what you can bring to the party. 

“We are seeing more and more people from all sectors looking for more purposeful ways of using their skills and who want to make a positive contribution to society. 

“Always remember: this is your time, so don’t forget to tell the organisation what the role would give you in return.”


What professional disciplines, or hard skills, are currently in demand on UK boards?  

“The pandemic recovery period means that effective non-executive leaders are in demand more than ever before,” says Taylor. 

“We are seeing increasing numbers of non-executive board members being sought for organisations who need to rebuild or refocus their strategy. 

“We have seen a strong trend in boards looking for people with digital expertise and backgrounds in customer service and organisational or cultural change. 

Those with financial skills and profit-making skills are now high in demand. 

“People who can help increase income or support financial management are also towards the top of the list, as are people who can bring insight into, and connection with, customers and audiences. 

However, it isn’t all about increasing the bottom line and opening the right doors. 

“One of the shifts we are seeing is a marked move away from focusing too much on professional disciplines. Organisations in all sectors are much more aware of their diversity now than they were before 2020. Creating strong, versatile and authentically diverse teams is now a consistent theme.”


What soft skills are in demand?  

An effective board member is hard to define, mainly due to their soft skills, such as the ability to listen and knowing when to speak.  

“It’s hard to tell a great non-executive on paper because so much of the role is about how people operate and not what they have done,” says Taylor.

“Great board members are people who understand how to deploy their expertise in a way that has an impact in a non-executive board setting.” 

Self-awareness is a powerful skill

“The skills that make the difference are the capacity for self-reflection, so people with insight and self-awareness, also diplomacy and listening skills,” says Taylor. 

“Increasingly, people are being expected to bring all their experiences into the board room, not just their professional accomplishments. Sound judgement is key to doing this well and to understand how you can add value.”    

When it comes to the interview

This is your time to reflect and prepare. The role you are applying for needs to be fulfilling and worthwhile for you as well. 

Be clear. Tell the organisation what you can bring to the table to help it reach its goals and why it matters to you.


Leadership journeys, expertly navigated





It’s time for revival not simply survival

Like many industries, the charity sector is having a tough time; it is not exempt from making redundancies.

Dramatic loss of funding coupled with ongoing restrictions on the workforce means that organisations are having to deliver significant change internally and at pace.

Change has, in fact, become part of everyone’s life: many have had to embrace the reality of remote working since March and this or a hybrid office-and-home model looms in the future. While some have adjusted, others endured isolation and missed the social interactions with colleagues.

Without the clear-cut change of location and defined office hours, many find it harder to divide their personal and professional time.

And Covid-19 is not just a six-month blip, that much is clear. Organisations need to be agile when the normal rules do not apply. Many charities are under huge financial pressures and are tweaking their internal models to pool resources in the right areas.

Keeping on top of change

Organisations need more responsive structures to get through these times as traditional operating models are changing forever. Chief executives must embrace this change; they need to tilt the axis of the organisation so that innovation and fresh thinking thrive at every level. They will have to take risks and do things differently.

Janina Vallance is an experienced Change Manager who has worked at board level for over 10 years delivering strategic change and transformation programmes across Retail, Consumer, Finance and most recently the Charity Sector. We discussed her experiences of delivering change across multiple industries and what charities can do to continue their change journeys. It is time to ‘Revive not Survive’.

“There is no point doing more of the same, hoping the world returns to normal at some point. Your people, culture and processes have adapted and modified during lockdown; continue with the momentUill to embrace the many opportunities”

We discussed areas where investment in change and transformation can not only revive, but can also establish a firm foundation for growth, when services may be more in demand. Here’s Vallance’s key piece of advice:

Digital Innovation

Further investment in digital transformation. Having one strategic digital lead can make a significant difference to your organisation – digital is changing so quickly and you need one person who tunes into this and takes advantage of new technologies, leap frogging expensive, complex and outdated solutions.

This helps access new communities to expand reach, fuelling your profile, brand engagement and fundraising. With the use of AI and chatbots on the rise, many charities have moved to delivering help and support services online, especially during lockdown.


Face to face and events fundraising is on pause and many have turned to digital events for income – there has been huge amounts of innovation around engagement with existing supporters. What is more challenging is increasing income from new supporter audiences digitally.

The National Theatre’s online programme of events is a fantastic example of pushing activity online. They streamed 16 of their shows for free over four months. Nine million households tuned in across 173 countries – this was globally supported, and theatre became accessible to a diverse and wider audience.

Now not everyone can stream their shows, but what inspiration can you take from other markets? A fantastic collaboration for fundraising that has just taken place is the ‘Massive Get Together’ – an evening of live music and comedy where funds raised split between 10 charities. The pandemic has produced unique collaborations as people and organisations do things differently.

Innovate internally

Internal innovation encourages cultural change and helps create new ideas, improvements and solutions. Are you encouraging diversity of thought by engaging with your wider workforce? Are you asking your organisation what changes needed to happen? Does your culture support inclusion, challenge and feedback so that you can build on that left field opinion? Change must come from within but can lack ownership. Consider hiring an interim manager as an expert to support organisational change.


The call to action for volunteers during the height of the  pandemic was phenomenal and in the early days, British Red Cross and NHS were overwhelmed with support. We need to develop this community spirit further so we harness the power of our communities for social change.

If you get this right, you will bring in new supporters, who give their time and financial support. There is a vast talent pool of individuals who are job-hunting and want to stay active while they look for their next role; people may have more time to volunteer but these must be accessible and flexible opportunities.


How are you funded? Can you diversify this and develop commercial opportunities?  Can you provide more services to a broader range of beneficiaries? Can you provide training? Can you collaborate and build partnerships with others?

Many organisations have operated with leaner structures for the past six months and plan to change old structures. We are likely to see an increase in mergers and consolidation in many sectors, including charities.

Consider using external support to shape this thinking, interim transformation/change managers will help you secure new opportunities and uncover solutions.

Strategic intervention can add significant value. You may not have the expertise internally, so providing the organisation with support and acting quickly will pay dividends.

Interim managers are uniquely equipped to join senior teams at short notice and provide essential support with their trademark resilience. As we move deeper into the next phase of Covid-19 and with the furlough scheme being extended,  we would encourage organisations to think laterally about the solutions they need, and to consider the benefits that this Interim Management community offers.

Survival is a valid goal, revival an even better one. Achieve more from your change.


Leadership journeys, expertly navigated


To discuss this article or Interim Talent more generally, please contact catherine.kift@starfishsearch.com


Changing role of the CFO through COVID-19 and beyond

Saras Seth, a career interim of several years, joined Prince’s Trust as Interim Chief Finance Officer earlier this year and has since joined permanently. I recently caught up with him to discuss his experiences of leading as a CFO through lockdown and how the priorities within his role changed during this time.

How did you feel about going into lockdown not long into your new role?

It was as a challenge; I was a new member of the team but as the CFO I was central to most of the decisions being made within the organisation at this time. I had to learn how the organisation worked very quickly. As an experienced interim, I quickly assimilated what needed to be done. I had a similar experience four years ago whilst I was at the BBC. At the time, we had no offices for three-four months, and I had to manage the whole team remotely. Being an interim did not affect how I behaved, you look at what needs to be achieved and endeavour to get it done, no matter what.

How has your role at Prince’s Trust been able to respond to the pandemic and beyond?

Currently the main objective for any CFO is to preserve cash. In the current climate the finance professionals have become the most important cog in the wheel, and they drive the organisation forward whilst also adopting a defensive/ survival mode.  Most CFOs will have this skillset and you find yourself almost taking control of the ship, providing guidance inside and outside of the organisation. You find yourself running lots of scenarios and numbers and what the hypothesis are, updating the board and the team constantly. The role becomes critical as it is the only one that can present what might happen in the future.

We discussed the CFO role being the driver for change within organisations. How would you describe your leadership style and how have you motivated your teams during this change journey?

Interestingly, during the pandemic there have been far fewer staff for the business to manage due to furlough. All organisations have their own DNA, processes, and momentum but with fewer people you find yourself trying to navigate a business which is becoming leaner. You make structural changes within the organisation and learn how to operate with less staff.  Staying positive is important and to succeed over this period, you must simplify things. At the Trust we looked at what adds value and focused on that. Being clear with the team on what you expect to be achieved and give realistic timelines.  It feels more prescriptive (due to remote working) and there is more clarity and centralisation. To keep the organisation engaged, you must know what you need to stop or continue doing to keep the business on track.

How do you think your role might be changing as we emerge from the pandemic? 

The role of a CFO will be challenging for the next three to five years. The challenges that will be in place for this role will be one of constant evolution. Mapping forward as far as possible but not committing too far forward in a hard sense. There will be more scrutiny and focus on the delivery of our services and to navigate the future you will need to be as agile and as nimble as possible. Organisations will start to centralise a lot of their processes and then outsource to reduce committed costs. 

What changes do you see for finance more generally as we look to the future?

There will be a bigger focus on governance and oversight by the Trustees. It will cover GDPR, risk, forecasting and safeguarding. There will be an increase in scrutiny from the board and specifically the Treasurer in this current environment. My current challenge right now is governance, forecasting, asset management and commerciality.

Give us your insight into what positive changes have occurred due to COVID?

We have found ways of stopping doing things which were not adding value and have focused on the tasks that pay dividends. One of the insights we have had at the Trust is that remaining teams have become focussed more on core processes and Charities will have to find a balance between the value add they require and the amount of resources they want to commit to things ; we may find that many Charities are over-resourced as delivery models change.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Trying to improve processes and quality of insight whilst working remotely.  It has been challenging trying to relay information virtually through technology. Working on projects remotely without excellent collaborative digital tools has been difficult.

What have you learned about yourself in lockdown? 

I have found out I am not a big fan of working from home and I have learned that the work/life balance line has become exceedingly blurred!

What will be your next priorities at the Trust? 

My next focus will be on the improving the quality of information. 


If you would like to discuss this is more detail please contact yomi.johnston@starfishsearch.com


Leadership journeys, expertly navigated