Case studies




Head of Management Accounts- permanent

Finance Business Partner - permanent 

Client profile

WaterAid is an international development charity dedicated to providing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene – for Everyone Everywhere.  WaterAid has quickly evolved from a £20m turnover charity reliant on a single income stream, to a complex £110m turnover organisation, influencing change at a global level.


Following a strategic internal review which recommended placing the Finance team at the heart of the organisation’s decision-making, a restructure created two senior roles in WaterAid’s Business Partnering team.

  • Head of Management Accounts (£60,000 - £65,000)
  • Finance Business Partner (c£45,000)

The assignment specified that candidates must have broad private sector experience to enhance the existing in-house skills with commercial best practice, and to create a well-balanced, high-performing team.

Key considerations and challenges

  • Perceived lack of career development opportunities in the not-for-profit sector for ambitious, commercially astute finance professionals.
  • Remuneration not consistent with private sector roles of similar seniority.
  • Engagement campaign scheduled to run at a traditionally unproductive time of year for recruitment.


We worked closely with WaterAid to develop a compelling Employer Value Proposition designed to overcome perceived third-sector disincentives and to engage with candidates who may not normally consider a charity-based role.

In addition to our powerful database search, extensive networking and targeted advertising, we created a bespoke microsite which enabled us to clearly communicate the full scope of the roles – highlighting the opportunity to join a genuinely world-leading organisation and help shape and deliver positive change at a global level.

The microsite was also crucial in communicating the unique WaterAid culture and ethos, and our transparent, ‘people-focussed’ approach was designed not only to attract professionals who could engage with the employer brand on a personal level, but also to minimise the risk of attracting candidates more likely to drop out. In addition, our targeted headhunting process engaged directly with hard-to-reach, passive candidates.


Our candidate pool for shortlisting included 59 applications plus 13 headhunted candidates for the Head of Management Accounts role, and a total of 76 applications for the Finance Business Partner role. After initial screening by a panel of Robertson Bell consultants, we interviewed selected candidates against the client’s prescribed competencies.

To minimise the requirements placed upon WaterAid stakeholders, we then delivered a condensed yet exceptionally high-quality shortlist of four candidates for each role. This efficient yet exhaustive process delivered multiple appointable candidates for each role. We co-ordinated the offer process and supported successful candidates through their resignations.


“It has been a delight working with you over the past months, you have been an excellent partner.  I thought you listened well and supported me with excellent advice and tools which have led to some fabulous candidates and finally some superb recruits. The highest compliment I can give is that this process has felt very much as if it was all WaterAid rather than WaterAid and Robertson Bell, you fitted us so well. Thank you for your support”

Director of Finance and Resources – WaterAid

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