A career in recruitment: personal reflections from CIPFA-Penna consultant Ruth Lane


01 Jan 0001

A career in recruitment: personal reflections from CIPFA-Penna consultant Ruth Lane

There’s a lot of change happening right now, both personally and professionally for our clients and candidates. We wanted to share the story of our consultant Ruth Lane, who has recently made the move into our CIPFA-Penna Finance team. Her reflections on change, the interim market and her own personal growth give a sense of what life is like at Penna. No day is quite the same as the last… especially at the moment!

Working in executive recruitment isn’t for everyone, working in public sector recruitment isn’t for everyone, and working within public sector finance recruitment isn’t for everyone either! I moved into the CIPFA-Penna team in 2020 and my time in role so far has been challenging, interesting and busy. 

Before this I was working with housing associations. Making the move was daunting, leaving an industry I was passionate about to begin afresh in finance recruitment. But, if this year has taught me anything, it’s that change happens and it’s not always in our control. So, it’s important to make the most of opportunities.

In my previous role I was working with clients and interims within the housing sector and built some great relationships and with that came so much respect for the industry and the people within it. You could see and hear the passion that the industry has been built on.

Moving to CIPFA-Penna

However, when you look at the CIPFA-Penna team you can absolutely see and hear the passion within the team which showed me that public sector finance is full of clients and interims with that same passion. That made my decision a lot easier – why wouldn’t I want to work with a team like this and a team that is led by a manager, Philippa Watkins, who knows the sector like the back of her hand and is the ‘go-to’ person for interims and clients across public sector finance.  

So, the move happened, and I am proud to say that I am now part of the CIPFA-Penna team working with interims and clients across the public sector including local authorities, housing associations and blue light services.

Over the last few months since joining the team, I have been speaking to many interims to say hello and introduce myself and met with a few clients before the lockdown. Of course, this has continued since lockdown began and, I have enjoyed every single conversation. Not that I expected any different, but everyone is very welcoming and willing to offer advice if needed.

The importance of Finance 

Everyone knows, or should know, how important the finance function is within public sector, indeed all organisations – it plays such a huge role impacting all areas of the organisation and particularly in times such as these. In fact, I think it has highlighted to people outside of the function just what a key area finance is within the public sector. Most of our interims have been on the emergency Covid-19 planning teams for their organisations, and most of our finance professionals have been extended and retained due to the pressing need for their skills.

However, it is still important for organisations to keep on top of their recruitment and not leave it last minute. One thing I noticed quickly when I joined Penna, let alone CIPFA-Penna, is that the demand is usually consistent for the same skills. When it comes to finance i.e. close down accountants, treasury and pensions experts and s151 officers, are always in high demand and short supply. That means that ill-planned and last-minute recruitment leaves some councils having to bring in people that aren’t quite right or even not filling roles. My advice is always to think ahead, and plan. Recruiting interims is rarely a priority until the twelfth hour as they are seen as an expensive resource, but interims hired in a planned way, offer a temporary project-based solution with fresh eyes and skills. What I would say to any client who is holding back on recruitment – don’t. If you have a need, fill it. Don’t wait until it becomes urgent because if you need someone, we can guarantee others are looking for the same finance professionals as you.

Anyway, back to my move!

As a recruiter when you are trying to make yourself known in a new area, reaching out to interims and clients can be a daunting task, especially if rejection is a fear of yours. But the CIPFA network of clients and interims have been great. I am naturally keen to get know as many clients and interims as possible, build long lasting relationships and should you need us, so now is the time to say hello!

People have asked me ‘how has the move gone?’ ‘did you do the right thing?’ and the answer is quite simply YES. 

It’s great to be part of a passionate team working within a passionate and important sector. I do miss the interims I worked with previously however, I am able to use my housing experience to fulfil finance housing roles as well as gain knowledge in new areas – a win-win! 

If you have any questions or just want to say hello then please do reach out to me ruth.lane@penna.com