Case studies

Fauna & Flora International



  • Financial Controller (Permanent)

Client profile

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organisation. The charity has been shaping and influencing conservation practice since its foundation in 1903.

The focus of the charity is on protecting biodiversity (the diversity of life on Earth), which underpins healthy ecosystems and is critical for the life-support systems that humans and all other species rely on. Its mission is to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, and they have the support of a number of patrons and supporters, from HRH The Duke of Cambridge to Sir David Attenborough.


For a number of years, the charity had been managing their own recruitment. At the beginning of 2021, our consultants were in conversation with the Finance Director, to establish a relationship and understand if we could provide external support to enhance their search.

In February 2021 Robertson Bell were engaged by Fauna & Flora International to provide support for the recruitment of a Financial Controller to take up a permanent position in their Cambridge office. Robertson Bell would help the business to cast the net wider in order to secure top talent.

Considerations and challenges

  • When undertaking the search, our consultants were able to draw on the strong mission statement of the charity to engage high-quality candidates. The finance team also held a good reputation, with a high staff retention rate, indicating an inclusive, progressive, and supportive company culture.
  • Candidates are often reluctant to move roles, particularly during periods of change or uncertainty, and so this was a core challenge.
  • There was strong competition from commercial organisations offering higher salaries for similar roles.
  • Encouraging talent into central Cambridge for work was an important consideration that required extensive research and discussion with candidates as this is an area that has limited parking and is accessed mainly by public transport routes.


Our consultants took a bespoke approach, creating a highly effective recruitment campaign which included:

  • Targeted advertising
  • Connecting with previous clients and contacts
  • A rigorous search of Robertson Bell’s network and third-party databases
  • Carrying out a far-reaching headhunting exercise

Utilising our strong candidate database, we had access to a pool of professionals who were either currently working in the public and not-for-profit sectors or alternatively looking for a step into the sector. Although we had not been engaged in an exclusive search, the unique sector-specific insight of our lead consultants proved invaluable in identifying and engaging with hard-to-find talent with the appropriate expertise and experience.

We received a good amount of interest in the role from candidates with a range of different experience and skills. Our consultants took the time to pinpoint and outline the core characteristics and qualities of a successful candidate to ensure that our shortlist was only comprised of high-quality talent for the role. This meant engaging with talent from within existing networks and databases that had the required high-level of sector specific experience as this was hard to come by through applications for the position. In performing a deep dive of the market, our consultants were able to identify hard to reach talent.


In working closely with the Finance Director at FFI, and dedicating time to the role, our consultants were able to present a final shortlist of candidates for interview that had an impressive career history, and mixture of industry experiences.

The shortlist of candidates was comprised of professionals who fulfilled the needs of the role requirements. After two rounds of interviews, the successful candidate was appointed to the role of Financial Controller within the advertised salary.

This candidate was sourced from our extensive database but was not actively looking for a new position. Through previous conversations with the candidate, we knew they had a strong desire to return to a not-for-profit organisation and successfully sold them on the role. Having previously worked in the education industry and with strong experience in a charity setting too, this candidate was an appealing option for our client.

By working in collaboration with the Finance Director at FFI, our consultants were able to provide clear communication and streamline the recruitment process.

The successful candidate is now working within FFI, and the client is happy with the high level of service and talent that was provided. Our consultants have demonstrated the value that we can add, by identifying and suggesting high calibre talent, further positioning us as a recruitment partner of choice.

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