I’m currently working on two Chief Executive search assignments, one in New Zealand for the respective Boards of Hutt Valley and Capital Coast District Health Boards and one in Victoria for the Board of Barwon Health.

The first is complex as it creates an opportunity for a single Chief Executive to be appointed across the two organisations, reporting to two Boards, and once in role embark on a programme of strategic and operational initiatives to streamline care and treatment to the combined communities of the two districts.

At the same time the New Zealand Government is reviewing the health and disability system, to ensure that the system is able to meet the technological, demographic, workforce and other challenges that will confront the system over the coming years. 

The second is complex given there has been a period of leadership instability and change over the past three years and in part due to the unique history of how the organisation’s hospital was first established way back in 1853 from a concerted effort of community fundraising.  

Fast forward to present day, the organisation is also now the largest employer in the district bringing another dimension to how invested the community are in the appointment. 

While the role title is the same for both assignments – Chief Executive Officer – and the end goal is primarily the same – the provision of high quality, safe and effective care and treatment to improve health outcomes – they are fundamentally two different opportunities.  

An experienced leader may well succeed in one of the roles while have less impact in the other. It won’t be because they’re not capable – it will be more a case of the right person, wrong role or wrong time.  

Environmental, community and organisational context is key.  

It is as important for the search agency to ask the client about that, and to really understand that, as it is to share that with prospective candidates. Why? So that we are all paying careful attention to context and fit and no one feels they wasted their time. 

Every month we are afforded the privilege of partnering with a Board on the appointment of their Chief Executive and if there is one thing you can be sure of, every time the brief is different.