Navigating the Blue Light Sector: Q&A with Senior Appointments Specialists, Stephanie Howe

Today, we sit with Business Sector Director Stephanie Howe to discuss her specialist experience working with Police, Fire and Ambulance Services across the UK as part of her role leading the Public Sector Estates team at MRG. Over recent years, Stephanie has developed a trusted position within this crucial sector. We look forward to learning more about the organisations that play a vital role in society and how they recruit to their teams.

How did you begin recruiting for Blue Light Service Organisations?

After starting my career in property, I moved into property recruitment with MRG in 2015, initially working in the private sector team. Fast forward to late 2019, and I took the opportunity to expand MRG’s offering to the wider public sector.

The first recruitment campaign I worked on after moving to the team was the Head of Property & Facilities role with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service. This was a great example of a client-partner relationship, working together to secure a customer-focused estate professional from the private sector.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with several police, fire and ambulance services, both on an interim and permanent basis and recruit to a range of estates, property, transformation and broader corporate leadership roles.

I also oversee senior appointments in the wider public and third sector, working with local authorities, central government, charities and higher education.

Can you tell us how you work with Blue Light Organisations?

Working closely with the hiring manager, often the Director of Resources, Chief Executive or Director of Estates, it is crucial to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges that the organisation is facing and identify the most suitable recruitment solution – whether this be a permanent recruitment campaign, consultancy or interim appointment.

Whilst all blue light services will have a shared mission to provide the best lifesaving services to their local communities, they also often face similar operational estate challenges, such as providing a highly efficient and resilient estate portfolio, delivering the best value, driving forward a sustainable estate and ensuring effective asset utilisation often in conjunction with public sector partners, all to support those providing essential services on the frontline. It is, therefore, crucial to understand the organisation’s corporate aims and objectives and the vital role the Estates and Corporate Resources teams play in meeting these.

How do you begin identifying candidates for this sector?

It is essential to take an inclusive approach to candidate identification at both a regional and national level. This ensures that candidates operating in both the private and public sectors, with aligned portfolios and team responsibilities, are approached and engaged for each opportunity.

Over the years, we have developed an extensive understanding of key individuals in estate leadership positions at aligned organisations through our established networks. This is combined with continued identification of suitable candidates through recommendations and up-to-date desktop research whilst also creating candidate attraction strategies such as engaging candidate information packs, advertising and social media campaigns.

What are the unique challenges to recruiting in this sector?

Often, the make-up of a blue light estate portfolio is diverse and highly complex. Assets can range from a single police house to a state-of-the-art fire station to a redundant ambulance station, operational command centres, offices and other highly secure assets. Varying in age, condition and purpose can make finding suitable candidates with the breadth of multi-asset portfolio experience challenging. Whilst this experience is often vital, it is also key to ensure that suitable candidates can manage the complex stakeholder groups who are often operating in highly challenging environments.

Over time, you have built strong relationships with several Emergency Service organisations. Do any stand-out of particular interest?

I’ve been very fortunate to work with a range of blue light client organisations in a sector I’m hugely passionate about supporting.

I’ve enjoyed working with neighbouring blue light services who are working together in a local area to utilise their portfolios more effectively (whether that is driving sharing space initiatives or delivering major projects), such as Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service and Office of the Police and Crime for Hampshire & Isle of Wight, Kent Police and Kent Fire & Rescue Service and London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance NHS Trust.

It’s also a privilege to continue to work with a candidate following their appointment and support them with the growth and development of their new team and department.

If you would like to learn more about blue light service or wider public sector appointments, please contact Stephanie Howe.


Request a proposal