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Moving from a network of separate agencies to a single organisation

Uniting is the new community services organisation merger of 21 Uniting Care Agencies that commenced official operation from 1st July 2017.

The merged organisation has approximately $237 million in turnover with over 3,500 full time employees and 4,000 volunteers.

Uniting works alongside people of all ages in local communities across Victoria and Tasmania, with their services reaching to Albury-Wodonga in the north, Mallacoota in East Gippsland, the Wimmera region in the west, and across Tasmania.

Together we can do more

It was incredibly satisfying to be part of a merger process of a successful new agency that is providing community services across Victoria and Tasmania with 7,000 skilled, passionate and creative people providing over 770 programs and services.

As executive search specialists with NGO / NFP expertise our challenge was to help Uniting to go through a very comprehensive process of merging separate entities under one roof. Our challenge was to recruit a Chair and eight Independent Directors to lead the merger and formation of the new entity. In addition, we were then to recruit a new CEO to lead the entire organization. A program office had been established within the Church to oversee the merger and provide assistance with putting in place the new Board and CEO.

Paul Linossier“Together we can do more. We will have a stronger advocacy voice and we will have access to broader resources and skills to meet clients’ needs. This change provides the best opportunity for us to continue our important work in the community for many years to come.” (Paul Linossier, New CEO of Uniting)

Communication leads to community

Like any merger, this was not without difficulty. Uniting required scale if it was to remain competitive and deliver on its mission of providing a range of human and community services to those most in need in our community. Naturally, each agency was concerned that it would lose its brand and unique local identity through the merger.

The tasks

  1. work closely with a project control group within the Uniting Church who ensured that all concerns were heard and understood, as the merger rolled out.
  2. build position descriptions for the Chair and develop a skills matrix for the Board where none existed.

To get this right required intensive stakeholder consultation while also bringing in our deep experience of Uniting, the broader NFP sector at both a local and global level (via our IRC Practice Group in NFP/NGO) and our experience in mergers and acquisitions within the NFP sector.

The work doesn’t end by saying Good bye

In July 2017, we conducted an inaugural review of the Chair, Board and CEO to test what had been achieved, what was still to be done and how the current Board composition was serving the strategic needs of the organisation. This comprehensive review consisted of interviews with each Board Member and the CEO around a series of key questions that were mutually determined to test the effectiveness and composition of the current Board to meet the challenges ahead while also providing a platform for ongoing board review and personal development plans for each Board Member. From our perspective this program brought full circle a project that had started over a year ago.

Welcome new Uniting board members

In searching for a Chair, we were able to identify Bronwyn Pike, a leader with a unique background as a State politician and Minister, a background within the Church and experience in key services such as Health. In turn our search for Directors for a skill-based Board required we have diversity not just in terms of gender or background but true geographic diversity where we were able to identify individuals who were business and/or community leaders in the regions represented by  the services of the new agency. Finally, once this Board was established we identified a CEO who had both the experience and leadership style to bring about a successful merger and launch. This process was completed by late 2016. In the following months the infrastructure of the new entity was built and successfully launched on schedule. 

NGO and Not For Profit Practice Group

Executive search has for many years provided a vital role in finding new leaders to adapt to changing landscape in NGOs and Not For Profits. IRC is able to identify these social entrepreneurs that can spur innovative solutions and demonstrate real return on investment to governments, foundations, businesses or the private donor. In doing this, they deliver on their mission to make people’s lives better.

Malcom Duncan

Malcom Duncan (IRC Australia)
Global Practice leader NGO & Not For Profit
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