Paul Venning had many years of blue chip international experience in executive search and human resources consultancy, before making his career change to the not-for-profit sector. He is now one of our lead recruitment consultants at Eastside Primetimers, and shared his experiences with us about the shift.
What led you to get involved with Eastside Primetimers?
An initial conversation about a potential trustee role developed into an exploratory conversation around EP’s work and my first assignment.
How much of a career change was it for you?
I had already started to shift from purely running an executive search business to taking on additional roles and interests. I had taken a trustee role, a local councillor position, and become an investing director in a company specialising in supporting post-start up tech driven businesses, so taking on work with Eastside Primetimers made sense as I developed my portfolio of varied responsibilities.
What do you find most rewarding about your involvement and work with Eastside Primetimers?
Each assignment is very different and always develops beyond the initial brief and you get to work with the most interesting people!
Can you tell us about one of the assignments you have enjoyed most and why?
Finding the new CEO for Malvern Special Families. I met some great candidates which led to an experienced shortlist and worked with the Trustees throughout the final interviews resulting in a successful appointment. I got to learn about a completely new area of incredibly valuable social need and I got to visit beautiful Malvern!
What has been your most challenging assignment and why?
Probably my very first assignment. Having run American Express Consultancy Services across Europe in the past, I had good experience of relevant processes and analysis. However, working with and helping turn around a failing charity based at one of the HM prisons in Kent, supported by a major player in the construction industry, meant understanding the challenges, connections and implications in a completely new sphere and having to do that very quickly.
Has anything really surprised you about the sector?
People are far more willing to accept you for who you are and what you will contribute, rather than who you worked for or where you worked.
What advice would you give to people new to the sector/new to Eastside Primetimers consulting?
Adapt and use past experiences and learnings, but don’t assume you will always get the same response.
Do you have any top tips that have helped you in the consultancy world?
At the outset of a piece of work agree with your client exactly what the brief is and what the outcomes will be. Ask “what does success look like?” Think yourself into your client’s shoes and look at what you are doing from their perspective. Always stay one step ahead. Check in with your client on a frequent basis and remember they are highly likely to change their minds!
Anything else you think anyone thinking of moving to the not-for-profit sector should know?
No one has any spare time, resilience is key, people will continue to surprise you with their innovation and self-belief and you will be on a continuous learning loop so enjoy the ride!