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In Conversation with: Thibaut Mills

By 20 March 2019 No Comments

Director, Europe

1. How long have you worked at Oxford HR and who have been some key clients in that time?

I have been working with Oxford HR for over 5 years and have worked with a really diverse set of organisations and clients. These have ranged from Consultancies; such as Coffey International, Adam Smith International, IOD Parc, LTS International, to Philanthropies & Foundations; Rockefeller Foundation, Lumos Foundation, Responsible Mining Foundation, The Global Alliance for Improved NutritionGovernment/Intergovernmental; IFAD, Interpol Animal Welfare and Conservation; – Sahara Conservation Fund, World Animal Protection Education; Girl Effect – Mary’s Meals International, Sabre Education Humanitarian/Relief; Oxfam, SOS Villages, African Initiatives for Relief and Development, Afghanaid Health; Doctors of the World, Helen Keller International, Marie Stopes International, The Union, Malaria Consortium, Water Witness International Poverty & Injustice;  ActionAid International, HelpAge International, Stakeholder Democracy Network, Reall, Human Rights; The Syria Campaign Sustainability; Better Cotton Initiative, Raleigh International Conflict Resolution; Conflict Dynamics International.

2. What was your previous job before joining Oxford HR?

I was working in the private sector for over 15 years for the likes of Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Centrica, Michael Page Intentional and Frost & Sullivan Consultancy, as well as a dotcom startup. Within these companies I held a variety of different roles including Search & Selection, International HR and Operations and Management across Europe, the Middle East, Africa & India.

3. Which role are you most proud of placing in your time at Oxford HR and why?

There have been a number of roles I have enjoyed working on and for varying reasons. It’s always interesting working with big INGO’s like ActionAid or the Rockefeller Foundation, but I get just as much of a thrill placing candidates in senior roles of much smaller INGO’s such as Mary’s Meals or Sabre Education, as you tend to be more involved with the senior management team and/or Board of Directors.

4.What qualities make a dream candidate?

I’m always surprised at how few candidates call me to speak about a role they are interested in and to introduce themselves, so good communication and a forthright approach from the outset is always a good way to start. I really enjoy the contact with senior candidates early in the process as you get to know them better and are therefore better placed to represent them to your client.

5. Which organization would you love to place a role for and why?

Médecins Sans Frontiére (MSF) will always be close to my heart as they gave me the chance to work in this unique sector and meet the extraordinary individuals who make it what it is. We are already working with them and to date have helped place their Director General, Director of Operations, Director of Resources and Head of HR, and we are currently helping with their new General Director – India.

6. How did you come to work for MSF after 12 years in the corporate sector?

After the 2008 financial crisis I decided I wanted to do something very different and to try to impart some of my knowledge in areas of the world that might need it most. I also wanted to see a bit of the world and to try to use my French more. After various interviews I proudly started several years working for Médecins Sans Frontier in two of their largest programmes at the time, Myanmar and Haiti – after the devastating earthquake of 2010 – where I had overarching HR responsibility for over 1500 staff in this relief effort.

7. You obviously dealt with some very difficult experiences and situations whilst working for MSF – how do you feel this has equipped you for your current role with Oxford HR?

I think this is one of Oxford HR’s USP’s in that most of our consultants have worked ‘in the field’ in some shape or form. The ability to empathise with both candidates and clients allows us to quickly grasp roles and locations in a way that many might not be able to. Between us we have worked for most of the major INGO’s and lived in most areas of the world where aid and development are needed. Oxford HR are a niche search firm working in this space; we have close to 20 nationalities and 18 languages between us. I love working with such a diverse group of motivated colleagues, who, for different reasons, can no longer work in the field but are still managing to make an impact in placing senior roles in different types of international Not-for-Profit organisations.

8. Could you describe the different type of searches that you have been involved with?

I have partnered with around 35 different clients to help fill close to 75 roles in over 20 different countries.  Roles have ranged from CEO’s/Executive Director, Trustee/Board of Directors to almost every functional director role (finance, fundraising, marketing and communication, HR, medical, logistics, operational, programmes…) and then numerous Regional or Country Director roles. You also get the more technical roles and often in very difficult locations. Every role and client is different which makes it all the more interesting.

9. How did you find the experience of studying for an MBA as a mature student and what are the benefits of achieving one in your professional career since?

Given my broad range of work experience, doing an MBA was a great way of amalgamating all my experience. I also did further modules on innovation and international HR. Learning the latest business trends with many other international students, was not only a great way of learning but has also helped me understand the broad range of client and roles that Oxford HR works with.

Ruth Davis

Ruth Davis

Ruth joined Oxford HR in 2018 after completing a BA in international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She completed multiple economic development courses, in addition to her dissertation which she wrote on the Anglo-American response to the AIDS epidemic, looking at international relations through a human rights lens.