Head of Facilities and Operation for the Renowned Sotheby's Institute of Art

Founded in 1969, Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London is among the world’s leading postgraduate level institutions. Covering four principal subject areas such as Art Business, Contemporary Art, Fine and Decorative Art and Design, and Modern and Contemporary Asian Art.  The London Institute is located in Bedford Square, a beautiful Georgian square with a private central garden built between 1775 – 1783.

After several unsuccessful recruitment campaigns through several other agencies, Sotheby’s approached Maxwell Stephens to support in the recruitment of a Head of Facilities and Operations on an exclusive basis.

The Position

Reporting to the CEO, the overall purpose of the role would be to provide practical oversight of all aspects of the Institute’s London premises. The role required a commercial outlook, combining accountability for the full range of elements, including space planning, landlord relations and contractor management, customer service and front office operations, hard and soft facilities management and compliance.  The role demanded the highest standards of service to customers, both internal and external, and operates as a member of the senior management team.

This senior position’s wide remit covered a wide range of operational areas such as Facilities Management, front office and customer service, administration and compliance and planning and commercial. Some of the key deliverables and responsibilities of the role included: managing the maintenance, cleaning, security and safety & first-aid provision; overseeing the compiling and scheduling of room availability; working with all departments on the forward planning of space, with clear communication channels between Facilities and all other departments; leading the running and performance of the Front Office; continuous review and development of the skills and attitude of the Front Office and Facilities team; ensuring that risk assessments are undertaken as required; working with the Finance Director to devise and report periodic key indicators for property, facilities and Front Office performance; managing the Institute’s space planning; leading relations with landlords, surveyors and professional advisors.

The Candidate

This position plays a key leadership role at the Institute in respect of customer service internally and to external users and prospects of the Institute. A professional presence with colleagues, students and visitors was therefore essential. The successful candidate needed to have a strong dual skill-set both strategically and operationally. The role required a candidate with seasoned experience in the management of high quality premises and all associated facilities and someone who was accomplished in budget and works planning and control. Candidates also required a Bachelor’s degree or a property-related qualification and substantial experience of managing a diverse group of staff and contractors. Experience of the higher education sector and an interest in the art world was desirable.

As the post holder would be involved with wide people on all levels, it was essential that they possessed superior interpersonal, spoken and written communication skills and have the ability to work independently, flexibly and collaboratively with all stakeholders. Having the right attitude was a necessity for this position. The successful candidate needed to be highly self-motivated, responsive and results-oriented, and possess excellent leadership skills with a focus on outstanding professionalism and customer service.

After our initial executive search and screening process we provided a shortlist of four candidates, all of which were invited to interview stage, resulting in one of the candidates being offered and accepting the position.