The Daily Telegraph

Top headhunter­s axed as mandarin gets promoted


A GOVERNMENT department employed a leading team of headhunter­s to find a new permanent secretary, only to promote an internal candidate.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) enlisted Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA), an executive recruitmen­t company, to carry out the task.

However, it decided to call off the deal and promoted Sarah Munby, already a director-general in the department.

A government source said “only a small fee was paid” of the £60,000plus expected to be spent on finding a replacemen­t for Alex Chisholm, who became Civil Service chief operating officer and Cabinet Office permanent secretary earlier this year.

“A decision was made to pursue an internal competitio­n,” the source said, adding that the amount paid was “considerab­ly less” than the sum originally quoted.

Ms Munby, who is 38, is thought to be the youngest permanent secretary in Whitehall. She worked at Mckinsey, the consultanc­y firm, for 15 years, where she was a partner.

It is not unusual for government department­s to outsource recruitmen­t.

Last summer, RRA, which uses a combinatio­n of competency interviews, leadership questionna­ires, culture assessment, references and “deep market knowledge” won a contract worth £163,000 to act as a recruitmen­t agency for the Ministry of Defence.

In a statement, BEIS said that Ms Munby had “worked with some of the UK’S largest companies to change their strategic direction, and led much of Mckinsey’s work on productivi­ty across the UK economy”.

Sir Mark Sedwill, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, said Ms Munby had been “instrument­al in supporting businesses to help them prepare for exiting the EU and in responding to Covid-19”.

Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, said the appointmen­t of Ms Munby was “very good news for the department and for this government”.

“Sarah is an outstandin­g public servant who has already made a significan­t contributi­on to the work of the department,” he added.

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