Executive Search Case Study – Santander

The brief

Santander operates across Europe, Latin America, North America and Asia employing 186,000 people. In the UK they employ 18,000 people and have grown considerably by the successful acquisition of Abbey National, parts of ABN/Fortis, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley’s savings business. Santander is a complicated business it operates across multiple countries has a range of businesses; Retail, Corporate, Investment, Private Banking, Insurance, Asset Management and Private Equity with multiple product lines.

psd were selected by the executive recruitment team to work on an Executive Search to appoint a Head of Operational Risk Framework. There were two key challenges to the appointment; time frame, and a shortage of suitably experienced candidates.

The solution

The search was awarded with the caveat that a long list of candidates would be produced by day three as the hiring manager was concerned that a search would be a lengthy process and the candidates would be on a 3 month notice period. There is a real shortage of suitably qualified candidates with the experience of developing and implementing an operational risk framework at a large bank so it was important that the appointed consultant already knew a number of these people in order to approach them quickly.

psd‘s Head of the Risk and Compliance practice, Gail Danvers, has spent the last fourteen years at psd specialising in recruiting Senior Risk professionals and was able to utilise her network by working over the weekend to meet the three day deadline, and produce a long-list of candidates. The detailed long-list included a summary of each candidate’s experience, CV and salary breakdown. The client reviewed the long list and requested the psd consultant conduct a competency interview for a number of candidates in the shortlist. The shortlist was submitted within ten days of engagement and the client requested five candidates for interview.

The results

One of the candidates that wasn’t selected was in Gail’s view the most suitable for the role so Gail persuaded the client to meet her by reiterating the experience that was relevant and competencies demonstrated at interview. The candidate was successful at interview, was offered, and accepted the role. Of the shortlisted five candidates, two further candidates were offered roles in Operational Risk.

I started to consider a move from a practice in Paris to a Banking role in London. Gail was a key stakeholder in my job hunting process, she spent qualitative time with me to understand my background and aspirations. Gail approached me to discuss the role which I was interested in, and I agreed to be considered. Her technical understanding of Risk Management is excellent to the extent that she convinced my now manager at Santander to meet me when she had initially decided I wasn’t right for the role. Resilient and fully committed during the overall process and beyond, Gail succeeded in negotiating a fair set of responsibilities and package fully aligned with my expectations.

Candidate Placed as the Head of Operational Risk Frameworks, Santander


Business Sector: Banking & Financial Services 
Specialist Practice: Compliance & Risk