Participation Director – LTA

Recruiting senior managers in sport, psd group

The brief

As one of the most high profile national sport governing bodies in the country, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) had been looking for a number of months for their new Participation Director but not being able to make a suitable appointment, the psd Sport team was retained to revitalise the process.

As member of the senior executive team reporting to the Chief Executive, the Participation Director leads, develops and executes the LTA strategy of getting more people playing tennis more often. With a budget of over £17m from Sport England, it is one of the most high-profile functions in British sport.

The solution

Securing a candidate with an appropriate level of leadership experience, intellect, gravitas and innovation was going to be a significant challenge. These attributes were essential to allow the post holder to question, evolve and grow the delivery mechanisms of the sport of tennis across a diverse range of local, regional and national stakeholders.

The organisation wanted to take a more insight, product and commercial approach to the participation agenda, utilising insight, data segmentation and innovation to address the challenges the sport faced.

The LTA were very open-minded about the sector these could be transferred from, so a hybrid executive search & advertised selection methodology was agreed. It allowed us to cast a very wide net over a diverse range of sectors including FMCG, pharmaceuticals, financial services, consumer technology, retail, aerospace and travel.

It also offered transparency to the process with the role advertised widely in the national press.

In addition to managing the advert response, proactive approaches were made to candidates from the sectors above. These initial approaches highlighted the opportunity, the reason for the role, the challenges the LTA faced but perhaps most importantly for candidates from outside the sector, how their skills and experience was relevant and transferable.

This part of the process was incredibly intensive in time and detail, ensuring the right candidates were approached in a way that reflected the values of the LTA.

Over 100 candidates were assessed as part of the process, with 25 being invited to a face to face interview with the psd Sport team.

These formal interviews followed numerous phone conversations and were competency based assessments. Candidates were reviewed against not only the quantifiable criteria in the candidate briefing document, but also leadership & communication style and gravitas, along with the taking of on & off the record references.

This number allowed candidates from all sectors to be personally met, interviewed and assessed with 6 being presented as the shortlist to the LTA.

The results

Having been through interviews & assessment with psd, the following stages were with the LTA, comprising of interviews with the executive team and then presentation to the executive Board.

The LTA were delighted to secure their first choice candidate, Alastair Marks.

The project was delivered on time, with excellent feedback from not only the LTA, but also the candidate and other stakeholders involved. This role was the first of a number of roles we have successfully partnered with the LTA to recruit and we continue to enjoy an excellent business relationship with those involved.


Business Sector: Sport