Executive Search

We focus on one thing.
Our customers.

Robert is tuned in well to our values.

Alan Wheelwright, HR Director
William Jackson Food Group

Meet the team

Our business is founded on a strong team ethic, which ensures a dedicated and seamless delivery of all our work.

Sarah Thewlis

Sarah Thewlis BA MML FCIPD FRCGP (Hon) FRSA

Managing Director

After graduating with a history degree, Sarah commenced her career in retail HR with Marks and Spencer PLC. During her twelve years there she undertook a mixture of high-level operational and strategic policy roles. Following a secondment scrutiny from M&S she transitioned into general management when she was invited to join the staff at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) as Deputy Chief Executive, marking the beginning of seventeen years in the health and charity sector, fourteen of which as CEO.

After three years at the RCP, she became Chief Executive of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) for eight years. In 2002, she became Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, where she spent six years.

Sarah moved formally into Search as the Head of the Not-for-Profit practice, at Gundersen Partners (formerly Bucher Rugman), at the beginning of 2009. She already had a long history of putting together leadership teams as a CEO. Sarah is now Managing Director of Thewlis Graham Associates, an Executive Search company.

Sarah is the Vice Chair of Phoenix Futures, a national charity providing programmes to reduce the impact of drug and alcohol-related harm; a member of a Home Office group giving independent advice on sensitive and complex ethical matters in relation to the DNA database; a member of the Audit Committee of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Governor of Queen Anne’s School, Caversham - one of the Grey Coat Hospital Foundation schools. Sarah spent ten years as a panel member in the Employment Tribunal Service.

Sarah, originally an Honours graduate in History, is a Fellow of the CIPD, the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Society of Medicine and an Honorary Fellow of the RCGP. She has a Master's in Medical Law and Ethics from the University of Glasgow. 

 

Robert Graham

Robert Graham MA MBA

Director

Robert leads the Commercial Practice serving a broad range of domestic and international blue chip clients within the FMCG, pharmaceutical, entertainment, travel, retail and industrial sectors. He is an experienced cross-border Search professional and some 40% of his assignments are conducted for clients and positions within continental Europe and beyond.

Prior to joining the team that established Gundersen Partners in 1992, Robert spent four years in Executive Search at Caldwell Partners International Ltd and six years in a variety of sales and marketing roles with Gillette UK Ltd.

Robert has an MA from St Andrew's University and an MBA from Cranfield. 

 

Judith Matthews

Judith Matthews BA DMS PGCE

Associate

Judith joined the New Zealand Foreign Office after completing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in her native New Zealand. After a posting in Jakarta, Indonesia she emigrated to the UK where she worked in a number of organisations in London as an Executive PA or Word Processing Trainer.

She met Sarah Thewlis when delivering a word processing course at the Royal College of Physicians and joined Sarah to help set up her office when she was appointed Chief Executive of the Royal College of General Practitioners. During this time Judith gained a Diploma in Management Studies at the University of Westminster.

A desire for family-friendly hours prompted Judith to train as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) tutor and she has taught English and Citizenship at Guildford and Woking Colleges since 2003.

Judith joined the Thewlis Graham Associates team in 2012 and carries out a variety of duties including assignment co-ordination, training and development.

 

Karen Hope

Karen Hope BSc

Associate

After graduating with a Sociology degree, Karen started her career in Market Research, working for a North American capital goods company. She moved into Executive Search in 1983, initially as Research Manager and then as Consultant with The Caldwell Partners, a leading Canadian search firm, working with the team that went on to form Bucher Rugman and subsequently Thewlis Graham.

Karen decided to do her own thing in 1994 and established H.E.D.S, a small boutique Search consultancy, which also offers career transition and coaching services.

Karen has completed searches across a broad range of organisations in her 30+ years experience, including the Private and Public sectors and more recently the third sector. She has completed assignments to find CEO’s, COO’s, Chairmen, Trustees and Heads of function.

She finds her cross-sector experience particularly helpful in having an open-minded and creative approach to sourcing candidates and finding people beyond the obvious places, who can deliver on the change and performance demands that public bodies and not for profit organisations have to meet in the current climate.

Working as an Associate to Thewlis Graham continues the long association Karen has with the team, and assures the same customer service philosophy and commitment to delivery.

 

Ian White

Ian White BA MBA

Associate

Ian is an experienced Chief Legal Officer/Company Secretary for both listed & major private companies and he has worked across sectors including financial services, retail and construction. He acts as consultant specialising in corporate governance for boards and in-house legal team management and performance. Ian has a particular interest evaluating board performance. As well as being a lawyer, Ian has an MBA from Ashridge Business School and he has recently trained as a coach completing the Professional Coaching Skills Certificate run by Coaching Development and accredited by the International Coaching Federation. Ian acts as a coach and mentor to a number of individuals.

In addition to undertaking work for Thewlis Graham Ian has experience as:

  • an Associate of Karen Walls Associates, a consultancy specialising in leadership and organisational behaviour;
  • an Associate of Independent Audit, a board evaluation consultancy
  • an Associate of LBC Wise Counsel, a management consultancy working with in-house legal teams
  • a Visiting Lecturer at Ashridge Business School
  • an Associate of Winmark who ran the Chief Legal Officer Programme. Ian runs courses on corporate governance and legal risk management for a number of organisations

Ian is the author of Managing Business and Legal Risk In House Best Practice Guide 2013 for Winmark.

 

Linda Chilton

Linda Chilton

Accounts

Early in her career, Linda Chilton worked in a number of travel organisations including Thomas Cook, WF & RK Swan, Charles Forte and Swan Tours. In 1982, she joined R E Jones and Co, Chartered Accountant where she remained for thirty years and was responsible for the payroll, VAT and accounts amongst other things.

 

Claire Drummond

Claire Drummond

Administrator

Claire studied A Level Art and Physical Education at Farnham College.

She worked at FIAT and in the property world before combining her administrative and IT experience to become a Network Administrator for a Software House. Feeling a need to re-connect with her artistic side, Claire returned to full time education as a mature student at East Surrey College studying Interior Design, Foundation Diploma gaining a Distinction which led on to a commercial design career.

Claire is now part of the busy team at Thewlis Graham Associates and in her spare time has gained a RYA Level 2 Sailing and continues to develop her skill with her laser dinghy.

 

Chris Suckling

Chris Suckling MBE MBA BSc CEng MIEE FRSA

Project Manager

Chris Suckling was born and raised in the former Rhodesias. He served a full career in the Royal Air Force, leaving in 2003 from appointments in the Ministry of Defence London where he had responsibility for Corporate Financial Planning and the setting and implementation of communications and IT policy nationally and internationally.

Chris joined Fujitsu Services as their Defence Adviser, an internal business consultant, in June 2003, and was subsequently Account Director responsible for Battlespace and Logistics Information Systems accountable for winning new business, developing capability solutions, and delivering an on-going managed service supporting military operations.

Chris served as the Deputy Under Treasurer (Chief Operating Officer) at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple from January 2010 to May 2012.

Chris is a Fellow of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) and a member of the Institute of Directors and currently provides consultancy services in technology and business management practice. Chris was Project Manager for the Thewlis Graham Associates assignment to find panellists for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees.

 

Rosie Akass

Rosie Akass

HR Professional

Rosie is an HR professional with a broad range of experience gained from a successful career in central government. She has worked in a variety of government departments across Whitehall dealing with and advising staff at all levels including Permanent Secretaries and 10 Downing Street. As HR Manager in the Cabinet Office with responsibility for the Cabinet secretariats, the Prime Minister’s Office and Chief Whips’ offices, Rosie was actively involved in all aspects of recruitment including membership of their promotion and interview panels. As well as working with individual departments, she developed policy for the wider civil service and worked closely with Executive Agencies, NDPBs and external organisations including major professional bodies.

Rosie is a CIPD Associate and an MBTI certified practitioner and since leaving the Civil Service has worked with Thewlis Graham Associates on a number of assignments including placing five senior posts at Brunel University.

 

 

Researchers

Thewlis Graham Associates Ltd is supported by an established UK and international network of professional Researchers, each of whom is a specialist in their industry sector or functional area. This ability to conduct bespoke and in-depth analysis of the available talent ensures a solid foundation from which to commence any Search within the Commercial and Not for Profit practices, and enables us to tackle even the most complex of assignments.