Jo Wilson

Joanna joined Starfish in November 2022 as People Director. She started her career in the British Army, where she spent 16 years as an Officer undertaking a variety of leadership roles in the UK and multinational environments. Joanna has spent the last 6 years working in Talent management, initially as the Head of FDM’s Academy in Leeds, and more recently in Leadership and Executive Development at KPMG, focussed on the growth of Partners in the firm. Joanna has a master’s degree in Leadership & Management and is a qualified coach and project manager. She is focussed on the internal employee experience at Starfish, responsible for the attraction, development and retention of quality colleagues.

Abbey Watt

Abbey joined Starfish in January 2023. Originally from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Abbey has extensive experience in executive support and internal communications.

Working for the New Zealand government before moving to the UK in 2016, Abbey established roles in executive support and internal communication within a social work charity, an organisation providing an online classroom and resource hub, through to involvement in the 2022 Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England.

Abbey recognises people and relationships are key and that everyone is different. She brings a friendly and flexible approach, building strong relationships with clients and candidates alike.

Zoe Thompson

Zoe has worked in the field of executive recruitment since 2005 securing both permanent and interim executive leaders for clients across a broad range of sectors. In the latter part of her career, she has specialised in candidate engagement and strengthening pools for some of the most challenging appointments. Previously she has led on the recruitment of numerous appointments including Chairs, NEDs, Chief Executive Officers and Directors. Zoe prides herself on her strong principles and strives to deliver high-quality results for every client; she has a demonstrable track record of building strong and long-lasting relationships with clients and candidates while adapting to the changing demands of her markets.

Parna Taylor

Parna has specialised in strategic counsel and communications across the political and non-profit worlds, working with a wide variety of organisations including international non-profits, government-funded agencies and family foundations. She has completed diagnostics of teams and structures and advised extensively on complex relationships and networks. She previously helped to establish the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, spending seven years as its Director of External Affairs. During this time, she established strategic partnerships with the UN Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Directorate and US State Department, and worked with the governments of Kosovo, Italy, Indonesia and the Philippines. Parna spent three years as a Special Adviser at Downing Street, and another two as Vice President (Public Affairs) at international advisory firm FTI Consulting, where she worked with clients including Starbucks, KPMG, and Sport England.

Juliet Taylor

Juliet specialises in executive and non-executive leadership appointments within charities and public policy and also leads our Board Practice. She partners with clients from different sectors to review Board capability and effectiveness and specialises in working with them to make strong and diverse senior appointments. Juliet has a deep personal commitment to advancing candidates from underrepresented backgrounds in leadership and has built a strong reputation for the quality of her advice and support to clients and candidates. She holds exceptionally longstanding relationships with organisations and people she has worked with.

Rob Stirk

Rob has been a qualified Chartered Accountant for 18 years working in a variety of businesses across different sectors, including pharmaceuticals and logistics. With a Law and Business Studies degree from the University of Birmingham, for the past 10 years he has been a Financial Controller in the recruitment sector. In addition to dealing with all things financial, Rob’s expertise extends to IT, Legal and HR.

Penny Ransley

Penny has worked closely with local government members and chief officers to recruit to their leadership teams for 15 years. Her genuine interest and desire to understand local authorities and the communities they serve has secured her reputation as a trusted partner across the sector. Penny’s knowledge of the market across London and the South East in particular is second to none and clients value her candid advice about when and how to recruit. Penny’s encouraging and authentic style means her feedback and interview advice is highly sought-after and she thrives on helping people recognise their personal qualities and strengths and how to articulate them. Prior to joining Starfish Search, Penny focused on top-team local government recruitment for three established search firms.

Luke Spaven

Luke joined the Starfish team in the Leeds office in May 2022 as a Finance Assistant supporting the Finance Director. Undertaking a level 3 apprenticeship in accounting, and with a passion for finance, Luke is committed to supporting the smooth running and development of the finance department.

Maaria Sharif

Maaria joined the Local Government team at Starfish in January 2023. She graduated with a law degree from the University of Leeds in 2021, following which she began her career as a Litigation Paralegal. She provided advice to clients across a range of areas, including Contentious Probate and Financial Abuse, played a key role in the preparation of court proceedings and trial preparations, and acted as a liaison among all parties. She brings all her previously acquired client care and management skills to provide the best customer service for our clients and candidates.

Lorraine Payne

Lorraine has worked within the recruitment industry for 14 years. Her previous focus has been ensuring the effective delivery of project management and leading a large team to ensure  high quality delivery and customer care. Her passion lies in building relationships across different sectors with both clients and candidates. Lorraine has joined Starfish to lead on the placement of interim managers across the Local Government sector with a UK wide focus.