Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Executive Search

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Chief Executive Officer

Executive Search

Westonbirt Arboretum is arguably the most important and widely known arboretum in the United Kingdom. It is a truly magical tree garden where you can explore trees from all over the globe, home to 2,500 different species from the far corners of the globe and 5 national tree collections. It is also without doubt a stunningly beautiful place to visit and the perfect place to escape, relax or have an adventure, and it plays a vital part in research and conservation.

With the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum specifically established to support Westonbirt Arboretum with its ambition to connect people with trees to improve the quality of life. A mission which is arguably more important today, than it has ever been, as we transition out of the pandemic and as a society build a stronger connection with the natural environment.  

The Friends also share a vision with Forestry England for Westonbirt Arboretum to be a world leader in trees, engaging people through education, participation, and conservation, jointly developing a masterplan, a new and aspirational 10-year vision, to achieve this ambition. A plan and a journey which will involve a significant expenditure of capital, investment in new infrastructure and improved engagement with the Friends members and Westonbirt’s visitors.

Philip is brilliant at what he does. He takes the time to really get to know the organisation, is always keen to hear my input about what kind of person would be successful in the permanent role, and works effectively to steer Board members through the process. I’ve known him to convince a great candidate that they were looking for a new role -and that’s led to a great appointment! I strongly recommend Philip as a standout recruiter in the charity sector.”

— Felicia Willow, Interim CEO

In order to deliver all that they hoped to deliver and with an experienced Interim CEO in place to feel the void left by the departure on the previous CEO and the arrival of the new CEO, as a charity they were enthusiastic and positive about the future, but also conscious of the scale of the challenge. They had with the guidance of the Interim CEO had the opportunity to reflect on the expectations

With your new CEO expected to evidence a palpable passion and interest in trees and the natural environment, strategic insight, exceptional interpersonal and influencing skills, and with the ability to think more broadly and creatively to successfully deliver ambitious operational plans, which support membership growth and income generation.

The search led to a strong shortlist of candidates and resulted in the appointment of Emma Griffiths.

Emma knows Westonbirt Arboretum very well. She has been visiting Westonbirt since she first moved to the area in 1995 and has been a member for over 20 years, so was delighted to be considered and even more delighted to be offered the post.

She described the Arboretum as a special place for her personally and in turn, for her family and friends. As a place that has been a constant, steady backdrop to life as her children have grown up and she has progressed in her career. As a  place to escape with her dogs, to do her thinking, to plann and relax; with some of her best laid plans have hatched in Silk Wood! She has met up with colleagues there for meetings and dog walks and enjoyed watching the site develop, from the small hut on arrival to the Stihl Treetop Walkway and Welcome Building development.

Emma also brings a wealth of relevant expertise as an experienced Charity CEO, having spent the last 8 years as CEO of Gloucestershire Counselling Service, a countywide Mental Health Charity. Prior to this, she worked in the Social Care and Education Sector, and she has recently completed an MBA.


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