Palmerston North City Council

The Background

After being approached by Executive Director, Ian Taylor, at Sheffield Search and recruited into the role of Chief Executive of Palmerston North City Council, Heather Shotter had a vision for the Council which required transformational change. Citing a relationship characterised by good rapport and trust, she engaged Sheffield Search to recruit new talent and help to design and implement an organisational change programme. And so, as Heather explained, a “true partnership” was born.

With extensive leadership experience in the private sector, Heather saw her role as a “real chance to make a difference in a growing organisation, in a growing city that wants to do things differently”. Bringing her marketing expertise to the table, her vision for the Council included building a narrative for the regional hub which reflected the diverse economy and population, and attracted new talent, while nurturing and growing people within the organisation.

The Council (which services more than 90,000 residents and employs more than 600 staff to deliver on its vision of “small city benefits, big city ambition”) is experiencing growth and competes with other regional centres for capital, talent and visitors. Having the right people in well-aligned teams at the Council was therefore crucial to achieve its potential, capitalise on its strengths and thrive. Sheffield Search’s agile and customer-focused way of working was an ideal match for a new, innovative approach.


What We Did

Wellington Director, Katy Anquetil and Associate Director, Nicholas Buck partnered with Heather and her staff to carry out a wide variety of search work in helping to achieve broad organisational change. This included recruiting 20+ roles, and carrying out assessments and lead team alignment work. Sheffield Search provided a holistic service, from drafting job advertisements and descriptions to acting as a valuable sounding board regarding more strategic decisions.

The team also worked “extremely well” with Council staff in helping to “promote the Palmerston North story”. Rather than just an opportunity to market the roles, Sheffield Search contributed valuable input into Heather’s mission to promote the organisation, the city and the region.

Throughout Heather’s time leading the Council, Ian, Katy and Nicholas have acted as ‘trusted advisors’.

“I like working with people I trust. During the process, I appreciated that they didn’t just give me what I asked for, but what I needed. They were prepared to offer up suggestions, different alternatives and recommendations. There was a real investment in the long-term outcome”, Heather commented.

Sheffield Search is proactive in highlighting the region’s many strengths in the talent market and is continually on the lookout for great people to join the Council. “They understand how I want to knit together a team of smart, talented people from different backgrounds that can harness the collective power to make this a great organisation to work for.”

As Heather further commented: “It’s more than just bringing people into an organisation. It's about attracting, growing and nurturing talent, and ensuring that people feel valued. The Council’s mission is very people oriented. I think the fact that Sheffield Search understands our business and what we're looking for and has delivered, has been really valuable.”