Global Architectural practice

Global Head of Sustainability

Infrastructure, Construction, Property, Real Estate and the Built Environment


Working with a leading international architectural practice, Tony Robinson was asked to support the appointment of the Global Head of Sustainability. A newly created executive-level role, this assignment required him to help the Partnership understand the market and talent landscape with multiple data points and some deep competitor/market intelligence. This ensured the client was able to make a fully informed and de-risked decision when making this business-critical appointment.

Client’s Need

With the health and well-being of occupants and other users now at the heart of any ethical and
a sustainable approach to the design, construction and management of the built environment, our
the client decided to create a new senior role responsible for its Sustainability offerings.
As a business-critical appointment, it was important that the client fully understood the market and
were able to make an informed decision that the Partner stakeholders would ‘buy into’.

The Service

Given the need to understand the competition, the market and the full talent landscape the project team undertook a thorough assessment/review of a broad range of pre-agreed competitors to provide the necessary in-depth intelligence before beginning the approaching phase. This exercise went beyond the obvious and also looked at lateral sectors, including Construction, Engineering and Consulting.

Our research identified two clear types of sustainability professional; those who were more
internally focused, who tended to concentrate on setting principles and design codes and those who
were thought leaders, who had generally a higher-level perspective on the market and the future of
sustainability globally.

The global search focussed on the individuals that had already embarked on similar sustainability
journeys. The project team’s broad experience within the Industrial markets quickly enabled them to
identify the individuals who displayed both the sophisticated skill set required to navigate the
challenges internally and also the track record of previously delivering such large-scale projects

The Outcome

The client was essentially presented with two shortlists. The first consisted of global leaders with the gravitas and experience to build, drive and promote the firms’ Sustainability strategy. The second shortlist consisted of ‘future talent/rising stars’ to support succession planning and to help ‘future proof’ the business.

All shortlisted candidates evidenced a good mix of sustainability expertise, an understanding of how to commercialise the function and had the necessary stakeholder skills to promote the offering internally and externally.

The successful candidate had previously worked for both a Global Consultancy and a Global Infrastructure Developer. During their career, they evidenced a strong track record of developing, implementing and continually improving Sustainability strategies.

As well as a successful appointment, a pipeline of three ‘future rising star’ hires for succession planning was established.

Theme from the project

  • The project team had been recruiting senior executives across the Built Environment/Infrastructure sectors and Sustainability function for a number of years and had a strong understanding of the type of individuals that would succeed in such an environment (as well as those who may not!)
  • Tony Robinson’s previous experience of delivering similar searches allowed him to quickly understand the client’s brief and culture, where such skillsets exist, which businesses/sectors had begun to approach such sustainability challenges and execute the search project efficiently and effectively.
  • As this was the first time an individual had joined the firm externally at a senior level, there was an increased level of engagement required with the client before and during the project. The experienced team of Partners and Researchers were able to manage the Partnership’s expectations and assist them through all aspects of an unfamiliar recruitment cycle. This resulted in successful hiring and onboarding processes within the project timetable agreed at the outset.
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