Case studies

Queen Mary University of London



Finance Business Partner - interim 

Client profile

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is a leading Russell Group research university comprising three academic faculties: Humanities & Social Sciences, Science & Engineering, and Medicine & Dentistry. With circa 27,000 undergraduates and postgraduates spanning 160 nationalities, the institution has a reputation for attracting diverse students from around the globe, whilst retaining a deep and enduring engagement with the local community. With an annual income of £475m, CMUL employs 4500+ staff.


Robertson Bell was engaged by QMUL through the Southern University Purchasing Consortium to recruit an Interim Finance Business Partner to provide immediate support. The role was initially scoped for 6 months at circa £350pd (£60k permanent salary) and we were tasked with finding someone with strong experience within the education sector, and specifically, having previously business partnered with academic faculties.

Key considerations and challenges

  • Limited talent pool of high-quality interim professionals with specific experience of supporting academic faculties.
  • Although the role offered competitive remuneration, the ‘inside IR35’ status presented a barrier to engaging with talent currently working through their own limited company.
  • Tight deadlines meant that recruitment was scheduled to take place over the Christmas period while the university was closed, presenting a severe challenge around co-ordinating stakeholder diaries.


The QMUL hiring manager had employed interim finance professionals in the past, with mixed results, so Robertson Bell was keen demonstrate the depth of talent available to a recruiter who knew where and how to engage with the contract community. Our initial database search was augmented by a targeted advertising campaign, and our specialist Education Finance consultants leveraged their impressive networks to identify and engage hard-to-reach talent.

As this was the first time Robertson Bell had worked with QMUL, our team collaborated closely with faculty stakeholders to ensure we had a deep understanding, not only of specific role requirements, but also team culture and working environment.


We received 29 applications and engaged with a further nine high-calibre candidates from our consultants’ personal networks. After screening by Robertson Bell’s specialist Education team, we submitted a very high-quality shortlist of five candidates, with three selected for interview. Having identified an exceptional individual, the client offered a permanent contract at £60k, and the successful appointment was quickly confirmed.


 ‘I engaged Robertson Bell to help find interim cover for a Senior Finance Business Partner vacancy I had in the team In December 2019. I had personally not used Robertson Bell before but had met with the head of Education division a few times and I was able to access them using the SUPC framework. The position required candidates to have specific experience Business Partnering with Faculties within Higher Education and to be available on short notice. They delivered a strong shortlist that met the required profile and we had a positive outcome with one candidate that excelled being offered and accepting a permanent contract’.

Deputy Director of Finance, QMUL

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