Approach to Executive Search

We offer one approach.
A personalised one.

Giving confidence to all of those participating in the appointment process and building a sense of effective team collaboration, as well as attracting very strong candidates and a significant number of applications for each post.

Bishop Christopher Chessun,
Diocese of Southwark

Our Approach to Talent Management

our approach to talent management at Thewlis Graham

At Thewlis Graham you can rest assured we will strive to find the best possible result for every one of our clients. We carry out post assignment audits to ensure we have met the needs of the clients and candidates and our record of repeat business – with over two thirds of our assignments deriving from existing clients or recommendations – is testimony to our effectiveness.

We provide a bespoke service, not an off-the-shelf package. For example, your assignments will always be managed by a senior consultant with significant experience, who will represent your business in a professional and ambassadorial manner at all times.

Understanding the Need: Our objective is to understand precisely what the appointment is, why it is necessary, and how it fits with and complements the rest of the organisation in question. We examine and question the rationale of the job specification and invest time in obtaining a feel for the client’s business culture and environment, since candidate ‘fit’ is the single most important factor in determining a successful appointment.

The Process: Arguing the pros and cons of Executive Search versus Advertised Selection is akin to comparing chopsticks with knives and forks – both have their place! Whilst most of our assignments are conducted by Search, there are also many instances, with public and NFP appointments for example, when advertising – or a combination of advertising and Search – may be the most appropriate way forward. Our recommended recruitment methodology is dictated by what is likely to be most effective.

Our Agreement: After the initial meeting, we submit a Proposal containing a detailed brief describing the company, the appointment and other key information. This document represents both our mutual understanding of the assignment and the information provided to prospective candidates. In addition, we also confirm how the appointment will be recruited, industry sectors to be researched, the likely time scale and the precise costs to be incurred.

The Candidates: A ‘Target List’ of the potential talent pool is developed from:

  • original and in-depth desk, telephone and internet research,
  • referrals & recommendations from our considerable network of contacts, and
  • our extensive in-house database.

Once agreed, the process of Search works on a reverse telescope principle: a constant refining from a large base to a point where a ‘Shortlist’ emerges with 3-10 candidates who meet the agreed criteria. Detailed reports are submitted on each candidate, describing personality, motivation, attitude and other character attributes.

Achieving Success: Once a client has selected a candidate, we believe Thewlis Graham Associates still has an important contribution to make, since ensuring a successful negotiation often requires great experience, as well as sensitivity.

At the final verification stage in the recruitment, we always solicit references on the preferred candidate. This requires careful probing and cross-checking as one must judge the referee’s motives and competence before reliance is placed on the information provided.

And Beyond: It can take time for the individual to establish himself or herself in a new company environment. We have a valuable part to play in facilitating this process to the benefit of both client and the selected candidate – a prime reason why our interest continues long beyond the appointment date. 


We appreciate good service and we go out of our way to meet the needs of our clients and candidates. We try to develop a personal relationship with every person or organisation that we come into contact with. Our aim is to recognise your voice on the phone before you announce yourself!


As part of our commitment to professionalism and quality of service, we conduct post-assignment audits and provide post-appointment support. It is important to us to review and continually improve the service we offer – your feedback, and your continued success is of paramount importance to us.


We never approach a candidate who has been recruited by Thewlis Graham Associates and we do not approach anyone employed by a client company during a two-year period from completion of the last assignment.

In addition, we guarantee our candidates for a period of twelve months following their appointment.


Thewlis Graham Associates is committed to ensuring equality and diversity in all aspects of our work. Our Equal Opportunities policy is regularly reviewed and on the job training provided.

We are signatories to the REC Diversity Pledge, below:

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) - Diversity Pledge 2011

  • value and harness the differences between people, and the benefits that can be gained from those differences;
  • actively seek to identify diverse candidate pools and promote their engagement;
  • review all aspects of the employment process to eradicate unjustifiable discrimination;
  • promote recruitment and selection best practice in accordance with our agreed standards, as set out in the support pack that accompanies this pledge; and
  • work with others to challenge discrimination where we find it.

In addition we are signatories to the voluntary code of conduct for search firms:-

Women on Boards

Sarah Thewlis has been actively involved in and supports the 2014 Female FTSE Report from Cranfield.

In March 2014 the Recruitment and Employment Confederation produced the following report to which Sarah Thewlis contributed:-

These activities give Thewlis Graham greater experience and knowledge of this topical issue and we have active networks of senior women to be approached as both Sources and Candidates.