Case study

category: search
UNFPA- Inaugural Chair of Steering Committee for UNFPA Supplies
UNFPA Supplies—a multilateral, multi-donor, UNFPA-managed thematic trust fund—is the world’s largest donated contraceptives providers. The programme provides over 40% of all contraceptives donated to developing countries and helps strengthen health systems to deliver them.
Since its inception in 2007, the programme has mobilised over USD 1 billion to support national action to expand access to family planning for millions of the world’s poorest women and girls. UNFPA Supplies is uniquely positioned to support countries in their efforts to ensure universal health.

The Challenge: finding a leader who could offer neutrality

UNFPA sought an inaugural Independent Chair of the UNFPA Supplies Steering Committee. This was a newly created role, the goals of which were to manage the Steering Committee’s agenda, act as a thought partner for members, and act as a spokesperson for the larger UNFPA Supplies programme.

UNFPA’s staff previously managed these responsibilities. However, given the governance reforms the Steering Committee had embarked on, they needed an independent leader to oversee the Committee and be a neutral facilitator who could balance competing interests. To prevent any conflict of interest, the individual could not currently hold an active leadership role.

This role required a global leader who understood the ongoing dynamics in the family planning (FP) and sexual reproductive health (SRH) spaces. They needed to have demonstrated experience as a former board member in a non-profit or multilateral organisation. They needed to be emotionally intelligent to handle politically sensitive discussions and manage diverse stakeholder interests.


Our Strategy: tapping into our global network to find retiree candidates

SRI Executive reached out to our global network and drew on previous work in the FP/SRH sector. Through our connections in this space, we advertised the position widely and uncovered senior leaders who were not actively looking and would not have otherwise been aware of the opportunity.

Because the Chair could not also hold an active and paid leadership role, we focused on retired senior leaders and executives from prominent NGOs and consultancies, and former leaders within the UN and other multilateral organisations. We also connected with an array of well-known experts from both the FP/SRH and global health space for insights and referrals.

We provided in-depth interviews and analysis which gave the Search Committee, supported by the Leadership committee of the new governance, insight into each candidate’s background and experience. We supported the Search Committee as they navigated a global, virtual interview process to determine a finalist from a pool of highly qualified candidates.


Our result: Appointment of a highly qualified leader in FP/SRH

SRI Executive ultimately presented UNFPA with a small but highly qualified finalist pool. Although the search requirements meant we were searching within a restricted and potentially challenging to reach pool of candidates, all individuals we ultimately found came from diverse backgrounds and skills that aligned strongly with the needs of the role.

The Committee accepted all candidates, who went on to be interviewed by a panel comprising UNFPA leadership and donor/partner representatives. Based on these interviews, a senior leader of Intrahealth was offered the role. This candidate was well known to SRI Executive as a former client and came highly referred by numerous contacts. UNFPA now have a highly qualified leader to provide more effective governance for their Supplies programme.