Wild Search Recruits CEO for Gresham College

July 17, 2020 – Wild Search has placed Wendy Piatt as the first chief executive officer of Gresham College. Dr. Piatt has been an adviser at University College London since 2017 and was inaugural CEO of the Russell Group of Universities.

“I am passionate about Gresham College’s time-honored mission to bring knowledge and understanding to as wide an audience as possible – free of charge,” said Dr. Piatt. “The college has a crucial role to play in reaching out to people of all backgrounds to nurture intellectual curiosity and stimulate a sheer love of learning about ourselves and the world around us.”

Dr. Piatt, who will drive the college’s business plan, has extensive experience in the public sector, having served as adviser to the secretary of state for business and skills and as a senior civil servant in the Cabinet Office, Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and Department for Education and Skills. She has written or edited many reports, several of which have influenced government policy. Dr. Piatt has also been a regular commentator in the print and broadcast media and is a frequent speaker and chair at high-level conferences, including for the United Nations.

Dr. Piatt has a master’s degree and a doctorate in political philosophy and literature from Lincoln College, Oxford, and a first degree in English language and literature from King’s College, London.

New Thinking

Together with the college’s newly hired provost, Simon Thurley, Dr. Piatt is expected to work to strengthen the college’s work of delivering free public lectures within the City of London and beyond. During a normal academic year, Gresham College fills auditoriums for its lectures – a total of 130 a year, and all Gresham lectures are live-streamed. More than 2,500 past lectures are freely available to view on the college’s website.

“My fellow trustees and I are very excited about these two appointments and feel that Simon and Wendy will bring even more new thinking and dynamism to our venerable, but forward-looking and innovative institution,” said Loyd Grossman, Gresham College’s council chair (chair of trustees). “With these two senior leaders Gresham College will bring the world’s best thinking to an even wider audience.”

Related: Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising

Wild Search, based in London, works with boards and chief executives to identify outstanding candidates for leadership and senior management appointments. Established in 2010, the firm specializes in education, charities, agriculture and trade bodies. Wild Search has an established community built from long-term relationships over more than a decade with both clients and candidates that the firm has engaged with through searches, reports and partnerships. Its recruiters conduct searches for chief executive officers, chief financial officers, chief operating officers, commercial directors, fundraising directors, chairs, board members and trustees within charities, foundations, membership bodies, schools, multi-academy trusts and commercial education groups. The firm is also experienced in conducting board reviews, merger reviews, performance reviews and strategy development reports.

Strong Experience

Wild Search is led by director Edward Wild, who led the formation of the firm in 2010 following his earlier career in executive search with Odgers Ray and Berndtson, a predecessor firm to Odgers Berndtson. Prior to Wild Search he established and led the board and non-profit practices at an established boutique firm, specializing in appointments of executive and non-executive directors, chairs and trustees. He has worked for a wide range of membership, professional and trade bodies, arts and tourism organizations, charities, educational organizations and housing providers; in addition to work for corporate clients on national and international searches.

Mr. Wild brings clients 25 years’ experience in education as both a practitioner and adviser, with a growing interest in international education, both within the U.K. and in the growth of British schools and colleges abroad.

In an effort to support its clients during the current pandemic and economic crisis, Wild Search announced in March that the firm is providing pro bono consultations and reviewing its fee structures to reflect the context in which the firm is now operating. “We will prioritize established clients but are also willing to consider the needs of new clients and how we can accommodate them,” said Wild Search. “Our business has been established for a decade and we are determined to work hard to ensure we are best placed to continue through current challenges.”

“The ongoing global health crisis will impact every business, charity and educational institution in the short- medium- and longer-term,” the firm said. “The demands it is placing on board and chief executives are enormous and incalculable. Structures, systems and processes which were once well established, effective and efficient will have to be reviewed, adapted, and, in many cases, transformed. Sadly, many well established, well run and respected institutions may not be able to survive the challenges to which we are subjected.”

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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