Posted: 14 February 2012

Choosing the Chief Executive

It's not often that you're asked to be a major contributing ingredient in determining who the next Chief Executive of The Children’s Society will be, but it happened to me.

I and four other young people were asked to consider just what the Chief Executive role involves and just how important it is. We also considered the responsibilities held by our previous Chief Executive, Bob Reitemeier.

Bob appeared on television and radio numerous times while managing a multi-million pound charity. He also tackled polices, controversies and misinterpretations (portrayed by the media and government) that affect young people throughout the UK.

All in all, considering that The Children’s Society is one of leading organisations of its kind, being its leader is a very important position to hold. So when I was asked by The Children's Society to be on a panel of young people who will interview candidates who want the job of Chief Executive, I couldn’t turn it down!

On board

I was made part of The Children’s Society board of trustees in November, and have found it all very grand and informative, to say the least. I have had the opportunity of attending a board meeting and meeting some of the top officials of the charity.

Having met Bob twice and finding his aura alone to be something of a treat and an acclaimed presence, hearing of his departure was something of a shock. I realised that replacing him would be no easy task, in terms of finding somebody who can be as effective as Bob was in the role.

Travelling to London

On Wednesday, 1 February, I made a train journey to London with Simon (another young person) and Suraya from The Children’s Society. Our conversation on the train turned into a film critical analysis course with a few political debates thrown onto the fire, too!

We arrived at London, to find that Suraya wanted to take Simon and me out for tea. The café we went to was a retro ‘60s diner that made us feel like we were part of the cast of Grease.

When we arrived at our hotel I was optimistic that I was going to enjoy myself, especially when I saw the free complementary biscuits in the room.

That night, I was briefed regarding the first candidate, as we would be interviewing them the following day. I was also given the questions that I was to be asking – these had been thought up by three other members on the young people’s panel during a previous session, which I was not able to attend.

Interviewing four candidates

After an alluring breakfast, which was well received by the three of us, we hitched a taxi to a rather historical mansion where we met the other two panellists, Rosie and Henry.

We had time to get acquainted then we were given time to re-read the CV of the first candidate, and then naturally time to go through the questions that we would be asking.

All four of us were given a pack and a notepad so we could take notes, but we needn’t worry too much about the notes, as Suraya would scribe every last syllable of the candidate’s words down on paper and feed them back to us after each interview.

Giving our opinions to the Board

For reasons of confidentiality, I cannot say just how and who the candidates were and what they said, but let’s just say that in between each interview, we four trusty panellists had our very own ammunition to shoot at one another.

Our opinions sometimes collided, but this gave us a very hearty debate and Suraya must have stocked up on max strength paracetamol by the end of the day.

So when all interviews with the four candidates were complete, our job as panellists was to compile as much information and opinion we could on each applicant. We then fed that back to ‘Tim and friends’, the Board of Trustees – the adult version – in a meeting straight after the interviews.

It was clear to me that the trustees were grateful for our input and found our contribution to be refreshing and insightful, which I think went a long way in determining who the new CEO would be.

‘The most important panel of judges The Children’s Society has’

The day was to finish off very nicely for us young people as we found ourselves going to an Indian restaurant and glorying further in one another’s company.

We reflected on the day and time we had spent together as, I think, the most important panel of judges The Children’s Society has.

So if you ever want a horticulturist, trainee paramedic, drama student, and physicist as your judging panel, let our agent Suraya know. We’re up for hire – and we certainly love CEO interviews! It’s now our speciality.

Aaron Thomas Rowles

By Aaron Thomas Rowles - Guest bloggers

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Dear Aaron
What a great blog and it was good to read. I enjoyed it very much and wish you good luck in all you do

Aaron, this is just wonderful. It really warms 'the cockles' of my heart, makes me glad to know you! All the very very best. You're a star!

Thank you Annie, I hope you find success in the next
profound path you take. It was an enjoyable time, I had- you
added a "real spice" to our interviewer's list.


Hi Aaron
Just read your blog and interview report with the CEO - sorry it's a late comment but I have only just been made aware that it is live - brilliant writing, well done, another string to your bow and list of successful achievements - it has been a pleasure to know and work with you, hope all is well.

Yet again, splendid!