Chief Financial Officer


Based in Cambridge and East Malling, Kent, NIAB is the UK’s fastest growing crop science organisation, employing around 400 people and providing research, scientific services and technical advice to a diverse customer base which includes Government departments, research councils, levy bodies, charitable trusts and the agri-food industry.

Over the past 15 years, NIAB has trebled in size through investment in new scientific skills and partnerships. The newly created role of Chief Financial Officer would work with a pro-active Board of Trustee Directors and a dynamic executive team, to continue this growth through a sustained programme of investment in people, facilities, partnerships, acquisitions and mergers.

NIAB chose to work with Eden Search & Select, despite recognising they are not a financial specialist. NIAB wanted an executive search partner that not only understood the headwinds of change affecting research and agribusiness supply chains across Northern Europe, but more importantly would take the time to really understand NIAB and its complex and passionate stakeholders, as well as working closely with a dynamic Chief Executive with a clear strategy for growth.

‘Eden Search and Select were excellent to work with. We were impressed by their ability to quickly get to grips with the needs of our complex organisation and to rapidly and efficiently present us with five suitable candidates, help us through the interview and refinement process, and eventually to support us in selecting a new CFO who is an almost perfect fit. The CFO is an integral part of the wider team, and we believe that working with Eden Search and Select delivered a much better recruit than we could have expected from a finance specialist.’

Dr Tina Barsby OBE, Chief Executive Officer.

Our approach

Eden Search & Select embarked on an extensive consultation process, including members of NIAB’s Board of Trustee Directors and its Chairman, as well as the NIAB Executive team, to refine and define the skills, experiences, and characteristics for the appointment focusing on the particular blend of commercial experience, and classical regulatory knowledge required for the CFO appointment.

Once finalised, Eden completed a talent identification and engagement process within the UK agribusiness and food industry, including research institutions in the East of England that although not related to agriculture, had expertise with relevant funding streams and had experienced a similar growth model.

Our Head of Research and Managing Director worked closely together to deliver the key stages of candidate selection: identification, screening, assessment and validation. This approach delivered a shortlist of five candidates which NIAB considered highly credible and interviewed; with three candidates being brought back for a 2nd stage. The assessment included psychometric analysis and feedback for the selected candidates and other members of the NIAB Executive to ensure a strong cultural fit for the team and wider stakeholders.

The results

After an extensive search and interview process NIAB appointed a very experienced finance professional who moved from practice into industry and has held leaderships roles at the Animal Health Trust and at the Sanger Institute and Welcome Trust leading Boards and finance teams through periods of growth and stability, as well as restructuring organisations to make them future proof.