Public Health England - Executive Director Strategy

Public Health England was established in 2013 to bring together public health specialists from more than 70 organisations into a single service. It has a highly complex and challenging brief to protect the country from public health threats such Ebola and Hepatitis C, to delivering scientific research and preventative strategies to improve the nation’s health and reduce health inequalities in society. By doing so, PHE reduce the financial burden on the NHS and other public health and care agencies.

The CEO and HRD worked with the Penna team to create an enhanced role of Executive Director Strategy. The new role would include a remit to develop and drive the organisation’s future business planning as well as develop a new Public Health Strategy for England over the next five years. This complex and high profile position would also require strong political acumen and first class negotiation skills to work effectively across Whitehall, Westminster and the broader public sector.

From the beginning the Penna team worked collaboratively with the HRD, Civil Service Commissioner and Appointments team, offering advice and evidence on market rate on a range of factors to create an attractive proposition for the candidate, including intelligence on salaries. We also engaged the CEO when developing the search strategy to ensure quality and diversity. Through our consultative approach, we were able to offer valuable insight on the terms of appointment that offered maximum flexibility and secured a successful outcome.

Our approach was high touch, pacey, and diligent, thereby securing the confidence of the Appointments Panel comprising Director Generals from the NHS, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the PHE Board and the CEO of PHE. The international search delivered a strong and diverse pool of candidates that included candidates from the health sector, international NGOs and the private sector.

The recruitment campaign delivered five shortlisted candidates including a highly credible job share option. The successful candidate had a mix of Government and private sector experience. His appointment has subsequently been confirmed by Ministers. Such was the quality of the field that all the shortlisted candidates have now been appointed to other senior roles outside of PHE.


  • Executive Search

  • Health, Life Sciences & Universities