Case studies

Academies Enterprise Trust



  • Group Finance Manager - Permanent
  • Finance & Operations Manager - Permanent 

Client profile

Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is one of the largest multi academy trusts in the UK. Employing 6,000 staff, AET is a nationwide national family of 58 schools – each committed to delivering education excellence that launches children and young people into a remarkable life.


Robertson Bell have worked in partnership with AET for a number of years, helping the Trust to identify and attract high-calibre professionals for a variety of roles within their centralised and regional finance teams. In 2019, AET took a direct recruitment approach to fill two key roles

  • Group Finance Manager – Permanent - £70,000
  • Finance & Operations Manager – Permanent - £45,000 - £55,000

After failing to attract suitably qualified candidates for either position, AET tasked Robertson Bell with creating and delivering a campaign to recruit two seasoned professionals with the expertise to help the organisation deliver on its ambitious objectives.

Key considerations and challenges

  • How to attract top talent in a highly competitive recruitment marketplace where private sector employers offer higher salaries.
  • Recruiting from a limited talent pool of appropriately skilled individuals who were willing to travel nationwide on a regular basis.
  • Overcoming the logistical challenge of bringing together busy internal stakeholders from multiple locations to participate in interviews and assessments


To overcome the salary challenge, Robertson Bell built a compelling proposition encompassing both the strong employer brand and the attractive additional benefits, including pension contribution, holiday allowance and work-life balance. We then leveraged our connectivity across diverse finance communities, reaching out both to candidates with appropriate sector-specific experience, and sought-after talent with wide exposure to commercial best practice. In addition to an exhaustive database search and targeted advertising, we were also able to engage with passive talent who would generally not be motivated by roles in the education sector.


We received a total of 57 applications for the two roles. Our in-house screening panel scored candidates against AET’s role profile to produce an internal long list of 22. Independent scoring by members of our resourcing team delivered a final shortlist of 12, with six high-calibre candidates for each role submitted to the client.

AET selected eight candidates for first-stage interview, with four invited back for second-stage assessment. Two offers were made, both of which were accepted, and the new starters settled in quickly, adding value from day one.


"Over the past year and half Robertson Bell have helped to fill several vacancies across the Trust's finance team, including many senior finance roles. They consistently provide good quality candidates that we are keen to interview and have played an important support role in the transformation of the Central and Trust-wide finance team. It is important to us that any recruitment firm understands our organisation, and Robertson Bell's knowledge of the academy sector is one of the reasons we think of them when positions open."

Deputy Finance Director

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