Successfully Recruiting a new CEO to lead Young Social Innovators

Young Social Innovators (YSI) is a nonprofit organisation that empowers young people to use their talents, insights, passion and creativity to come up with innovative solutions to social challenges. For the past 21 years, their programmes have supported students to create team-based action-projects on issues they care about, putting their innovative ideas into action to bring about positive social change for the benefit of people, communities and the environment.

The Context

When Young Social Innovators’ (YSI) co-founding CEO, Rachel Collier decided to retire from her position at the end of 2022, YSI chose 2into3 as their recruitment partner to support them in the search for Rachel’s successor, having been recommended to them by a previous client.

When we met YSI, Rachel Collier had been in post for 21 years. Therefore, we understood the choice of her successor was a significant decision. It was essential that both Rachel and the Board could believe that the successful candidate would have the enthusiasm and passion for social innovation and for engaging and empowering young people to make a difference to society.

It was imperative that the agency supporting them with this recruitment campaign were equally dedicated to finding the right person who could nurture and build upon Rachel’s legacy, and we were pleased to have been able to demonstrate this to the Board.

Rachel Collier CEO YSI

Rachel Collier, Young Social Innovators outgoing and co-founding CEO, 2019

Roger Warnock, CEO, YSI at YSI’s ‘Powering Up’ event, January 2024

The Action

Young Social Innovators are highly regarded by its peers. This, combined with 2into3’s positioning of the role, resulted in a high volume of interactions. 2into3 are committed to ensuring a positive candidate experience for every person we interact with, regardless of the outcome of their application. We had 247 interactions overall, between candidates who applied or enquired, or whom we targeted directly, but we took the necessary time to acknowledge and update all candidates and scheduled over 50 phone calls to respond to prospective candidate queries.

Voluntary Boards are responsible for recruiting CEOs for their organisations, but are limited in terms of the time they can give to this process. We worked to provide full updates without overloading their diaries or inboxes. We sent weekly progress reports via e-mail and had interim update meetings with the outgoing CEO to maintain clear communication throughout, providing feedback from candidates we spoke with, which helped to refine the search criteria by taking market sentiment into account.

Once 2into3 had completed our rigorous screening process, we met with YSI to discuss our longlist of potential candidates, distilling these 247 interactions down to a much more manageable 11 individual CVs, supported by our extensive interview notes and observations. Hereafter, YSI selected 7 candidates for their panel interview shortlist.

We also met with YSI in advance of panel interviews to agree to the best approach for these interviews. This resulted in combining our suggested panel interview screening questions with YSI’s internal competency framework to ensure that the interviews were fully in-line with best-practice.

Gerry Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Board, Young Social Innovators says, “we were really satisfied with 2into3’s thorough and professional service throughout the recruitment campaign for our new CEO. The team was excellent whenever we needed support or advice throughout the process, and we would certainly recommend their services to our colleagues in the sector”.

The Result

Following two rounds of panel interviews, Roger Warnock was appointed to the position of CEO of Young Social Innovators in October 2022. It was agreed that along with his leadership experience, Roger knew the sector well, had a genuine interest in young people and social justice, and had an intellectual knowledge of social innovation which would benefit the organisation into the future.

Since joining Young Social Innovators, Roger has transitioned well into the organisation. During his first year, YSI engaged with 8,465 young social innovators, facilitated 399 youth-led social innovation projects and held 72 regional workshops.

The organisation also developed their new strategic plan (2024-2027) and in January 2024, they launched a new online hub called ‘youth space’ containing information and signposting to programmes, news and opportunities, polls, quizzes and funding information to make social innovation as accessible as possible to those with ideas that can change the world.

Roger Warnock, CEO of YSI EirGrid

Roger Warnock, CEO, YSI photographed with EirGrid and young social innovators at YSI’s ‘Powering Up’ event, January 2024

Young Social Innovators Technology Focus Group February 2024.

Young Social Innovators Technology Focus Group February 2024

Shannon Barrett, the Lead Recruiter on this assignment for 2into3, worked closely with both the YSI Board and CEO to instill effective communication throughout the entire process. She also engaged with candidates who applied for, enquired, or were targeted for the role over an 11-week period. Her overall observations on the project were that:

“As is always the case when we work on senior level recruitment, this was a lengthy process – particularly with the volume of enquiries and level of interest this role received; but we knew that our proven process would stand to us and ensure that we could find a candidate who not only has the skills and experience demanded by the role, but who is also driven by YSI’s mission. We were delighted with the final outcome, and it is great to see Roger go from strength to strength in the position since”.

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If your organisation requires additional support recruiting a senior member of staff, contact Fergal O’Sullivan, Director of Talent Management Services at 086 180 6051, or visit our webpage for more information.

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