Head of International Programmes, Big Lottery Fund


Written by: Ana Filipa Fernandes


“Working with Oxford HR was incredibly productive. This was a difficult post to fill given that this was the first time the Fund had recruited an external international development senior manager to a permanent role. In addition, while the Fund has in the past funded INGOs delivering projects abroad; overall our international portfolio represents a small percentage of our funding. A contrast given we are the largest community funder in the UK. However, we found Oxford HR’s role throughout the process extremely useful. They took on board our recommendations and then crafted a recruitment strategy that enabled us to, we feel, hire a strong Head of Programmes. The calibre of candidates overall was strong. And the level of communication, candidate insight and advice offered was highly beneficial. Given that we had previously tried to recruit to this role, unsuccessfully, we were incredibly pleased with the result of our relationship with Oxford HR.”

Derek Bardowell,

Senior Head of UK Portfolio, Big Lottery Fund


The Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest UK grant-maker and distributes 40% of the National Lottery Good Causes funding across the UK, around £650-700 million per annum, as well as making grants on behalf of others. They operate a blended funding model – part responsive funding, part strategic interventions – across social change, the environment, health and education.

The Big Lottery Fund’s new Strategic Framework is both ambitious and requires them to be more outward facing and focused on the ambitions and aspirations of the people and communities they serve. With their new “People in the Lead” Strategy in international funding designed to support some of the world’s poorest communities to make use of their strengths and deliver the changes they want to see.

In order to achieve this ambition The Big Lottery is working with experts and other funders to make a catalytic impact, taking a focused and strategic approach, targeting funding to support disabled people to develop better livelihoods in Tanzania and Uganda. They are also working in partnership with other funders elsewhere around the world, to contribute to major humanitarian responses following sudden onset crises.


Head of International Programmes

For the delivery of their international funding portfolio, the Big Lottery Fund was seeking to appoint an experienced and innovative professional, with a passion for social change, the ability to work at pace, a deep understanding of how the international development sector can best meet the level of need and with the desire to transform the dynamics between the funding community and those delivering projects.

The Search

Oxford HR specifically targeted candidates with extensive project management, funding and grant-making experience in international development, with a particular focus in Africa. The breath of the search included trusts and foundations specialising in humanitarian aid and development to international non-profit organisations and UK charities working within disabilities.


Based on the strength of our networks we generated a very competitive field of 60 strong candidates, of which the Big Lottery Fund shortlisted 5 candidates for interview.


The Appointee

Asayya Imaya commenced his new post as Head of International Programmes with the Big Lottery Fund on Monday 24th July 2017. Asayya comes to the role with extensive experience in funding and grant making in health, food security, education, women’s empowerment, and livelihoods programs. His interests in disabilities and social change made him a particularly strong and compelling hire for this role.


He holds an MA in Literature from the University of Nairobi and is about to complete an MA in Education and International Development from the University College of London (UCL), Institute of Education in the UK. He has worked with Stride, Project Harar, Lessons for Life Foundation, CARE International and Concern Universal amongst other organizations.


“I had a fantastic experience with Oxford HR as a candidate for the position of Head of International Programmes at the Big Lottery Fund. I had a particularly positive experience with Ana Filipa Fernandes, the Executive Search Consultant who had an in-depth understanding of what the Big Lottery Fund wanted and balanced this perfectly with my needs as a potential employee. She did not just tick the boxes during the initial interview. Instead, she went below the surface and enabled me to best of myself at each stage. The first interview conducted by Oxford HR was very different from any I have attended as the focus was not on me providing staccato answers: It was a conversation that allowed me to understand the Big Lottery Fund and how I could potentially contribute my skills, knowledge and experience to the organisation.


The conversations before each interview stage were immensely useful not least because one seldom gets anyone to discuss an upcoming job interview with. Oxford HR went out of its way to ensure that as a candidate, I was valued and respected as a professional and as a human being and this meant a lot to me.


The communication from Oxford HR was always timely and feedback was thorough and positive and the experience is the best I have ever had with recruitment companies.


I would like to thank Ana Fernandes for her exceptional approach and Amel Alariqi for being ever so professional and human in their approach to the recruitment process.”


Asayya Imaya

Head of International Programmes, Big Lottery Fund