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Case Study:



Business Type:
Corporate Client

Mallory Partners supports a number of the UK’s leading universities, including Kings College London and Warwick University, in building highly successful leadership teams to drive both the academic and commercial success of their higher education offering.

Across 2021, Mallory Partners supported a new client, University Academy 92 (UA92), in a number of senior level recruitment appointments, for both permanent and fixed-term positions, including the recruitment of a high profile new Chief Executive.

About UA92

UA92 was founded by members of the Manchester United Class of 1992 in a joint venture with Lancaster University. After stellar careers on the pitch, many of the players – including household names like Phil and Gary Neville – went on to excel in the media and business. UA92 is built upon the desire of five of these footballing legends to help give young people a start in life that’s as exceptional as the character-defining experiences they shared – in the place where it all started for them, Manchester.

Mallory Partners was initially engaged to help UA92 to find a new Chief Executive, with commercial experience, that would support the recovery of Greater Manchester from the pandemic by providing industry with an integrated pipeline of diverse talent.

Adapting to the needs of the client

At the heart of the Mallory Partners approach is the building of an in-depth understanding of the client organisation and its senior team, a challenge made more complex in the last couple of years – in this case preventing Mallory Partners from visiting the university academy site and getting to know the client team in person.

This process also normally enables Mallory Partners to understand and adapt its working style to the client organisation. For UA92, this meant working hard to understand the academy board’s balance of corporate and academic interests and particular style of working – and also its desire to put the student experience at the very heart of its operation.

Bilal Mohammed, Director of People and Operations for UA92, who led the recruitment exercise, was impressed at how far the Mallory Partners team was willing to go to get a feel for UA92 and its values.

“They were very good at picking up on what we needed and adjusting to how we wanted the process to unfold – which is exactly what they promised us when we first met,” he said. “We felt constantly engaged, and communication between UA92 and the team at Mallory was brilliant. When I look back at the journey we went on, it was very different to what we had imagined at the start, but in the best possible way!”

UA92 was keen to recruit a new chief executive that would bring important commercial experience and customer focus to the board.

To support UA92 in identifying a strong shortlist, Mallory Partners sought to provide robust challenge to discussions with the board about what it was looking for in a new CEO, reading between the lines and helping them to hone down to the precise skills and approach that they were looking for.

This enabled Mallory Partners to engage with the market effectively; identifying candidates with precisely the right skills, experience and approach, even if they did not have a background in academic institutions.

As a result, Mallory Partners brought forward a very tight shortlist, including the successful candidate, Sara Prowse, who joined UA92 following a 30-year career in consumer retail where she specialised in building brands that put the consumer at the heart of the business.

For Sara, the successful candidate, the level of attention to detail that I received from Samantha marked Mallory Partners out as unique,  compared to other recruiters. “Consultants are usually quite distant and just want to get you placed so they can earn their fee. Samantha was so passionate about UA92 and was such an effective ambassador for them that I thought she was an in-house recruiter, not an external one!”

Chair of the UA92 board, Marnie Millard, added: “The level of detail provided and the information Mallory Partners was able to elicit from the candidates, to ensure their needs and ours were aligned and to get them over the line, was fantastic.

“They also handled the unsuccessful candidates extremely well, particularly when it came to the final shortlist, to the extent that those candidates are still in touch and really want to be involved with us as an organisation.”

As a result of the successful initial engagement, UA92 are now working with Mallory Partners on other senior leadership roles, both permanent and interim positions. Mallory Partners have a strong reputation in the recruitment of interim leaders – replicating their commitment to finding the right match for clients, even for short term positions, often resulting in the interim candidates finding a permanent home with the client firm.

In December 2021, Mallory Partners placed Trudy Dunne into UA92 as a Senior Project Manager, on a fixed-term contract. Reflects Trudy, “It was a very short process, taking little over a week – but it was handled very smoothly. I wasn’t particularly looking to make a move, but was approached by Samantha, who was a very impressive advocate for UA92.

“Even though this is a fixed term position, Mallory Partners clearly cared about making sure the fit was right. Samantha identified that my combination of construction management experience, (for both public and private sector projects in the North West), together with my experience as a lecturer in Construction at the University of Bolton would perhaps give me a unique insight into the priorities of both the Academy and its students from its purpose-built campus.

“The whole process was undertaken virtually, which worked well and Samantha was a good advocate for me – managing introductions between me and UA92 efficiently and answering my questions. Just a few days later, I was in position and getting to know the campus and my new colleagues.  I’m really looking forward to the challenge of managing the new state of the art Digital Lab that I’ve been contracted to deliver with the support of the Office for Students funding.”

Why choose Mallory Partners?

As the relationship with UA92 evidences, Mallory Partners is agile, experienced and committed to getting it right.

Mallory Partners understands the unique nature of recruitment challenges that higher education faces and has developed a robust reputation for fully understanding not just each individual recruitment brief, but also how each one fits into the client’s longer term strategy for development and unique style of operation.

Even in the current environment, where social distancing has changed how recruitment processes need to work, Mallory Partners continues to deliver the right result for its clients using a blend of virtual and in-person recruitment – something it was working with well before COVID-19.

With factors like chemistry and alignment of values now as important as technical skill and knowledge, this ability to overcome the challenges of virtual recruitment has never been more important and it enables Mallory Partners to identify candidates who not only have the experience that leading universities are looking for, but who share their vision and values – and are likely to thrive in their new environment.