Nua Healthcare - Case Study

Nua Healthcare
Chief Executive Officer

July 2017

Company Breakdown

Founded in 2004 by CEO Edward Dunne, Nua Healthcare is Ireland’s largest residential private provider of care to adults (16-65) with intellectual disabilities.

Delivering care to vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities, autism, brain injuries and chronic health issues, a 1200 strong workforce operate across 35 care homes, 4 day care centres and 4 outreach offices.

In 2015 Ion Equity – a European Private Equity House with a demonstrable track record of buying world class businesses which deliver high returns of investment – entered the sector with this particular acquisition.


  • Ownership:Ion Equity / PE Backed
  • Position:Chief Executive Officer
  • Sector Specialism:Adult Social Care
  • Founded:2004
  • Staff / Headcount:c.1200
  • Turnover:£0-50m

Reason and Purpose

Edward Dunne, CEO, after 13 years would take the reigns as Chair and as such trigger the need to appoint a new CEO to the business.

Nua were looking for a CEO to advance the business and position it for sale. The candidate would more than likely be from a UK business due to scale limitations in Ireland. There are between 2500-3000 people still held in institutional settings in Ireland that are intended to be placed in community settings as soon as appropriate.

Nua’s growth strategy, already in place required a leader with a track record of organically growing complex services whilst ensuring quality and financial performance were not compromised.

Why Compass Executives?

Initial discussions were held with a number of UK and global executive search firms with a view to selecting one that demonstrated industry knowledge, UK reach and capability to fully understand the brief.

Compass Executives evidenced the success in the key objectives alongside a track record of assessing and matching high calibre leaders to “hard to fill” assignments and as such were retained for the assignment.

Search process / methodology

Compass Executives undertook a research project benchmarking all CEO’s, CFO’s with CEO capability and operations directors with “step up” credentials. This project focussed on all relevant and comparable market spaces. In tandem with this project a simultaneous exercise commenced with soft referencing for relevant candidates alongside views from the investment community ensuring that our identified targets had delivered, met expectations and were on an upward career trajectory.

All identified targets were met, screened, assessed and tested against the remit resulting in a competitive long list presented to the investors within 30 days of being retained.


Compass Executives introduced a wide range of candidates from a) the direct sector space and b) from lateral markets with symmetry and transferable qualities. This ensured full market coverage was achieved.

The original list was reduced prior to the second stage and after site visits and presentations Nua were in a position where they were comfortable in appointing 2 candidates with the preferred option successfully secured by September 2017.

Client viewpoint

We used Compass Executives in June/July 2017 to find a CEO for our complex care residential service in Ireland, Nua Healthcare. We chose Compass Executives because of their sector knowledge and evident hustle. We had high hopes for how they would perform, and they more than met those.

Sam, Ben and Luke were personally committed to the process. They understood that the task isn’t just about finding the right candidates, but in building enthusiasm for the role. Every candidate we met had been well researched by Compass Executives and had the Nua opportunity well explained to them.

Compass Executives successfully delivered a number of very strong candidates, and helped us secure an outstanding candidate for the role. I would recommend them without hesitation.

Ulric Kenny | Partner | Ion Equity

Candidate viewpoint

Not often I would be so gushing in my rhetoric: clear, engaging and extremely professional in their approach, Compass Executives have been a pleasure to work with.

The communication and support has been nothing short of first class. Consistent, engaging, always approachable, always contactable, grounded, honest, insightful, supportive and knowledgeable are the main things that come to mind. Importantly, they have also been appropriately challenging when the need to be so has arisen.

Compass Executives’ knowledge of the client’s requirements and the health and social care market itself is evidentially clear. Providing erudite insights and in a positive, friendly way they combine high-end performance with a grounded approach that meets all stakeholder needs.

The preparation I received was clear, concise and professional; who understand their customer, the brief and then executes to the agreed plan. Compass Executives are grounded, avoid unnecessary jargon and deliver results.

Simply superb, and again I don’t say that lightly. Not only would I absolutely recommend their services to my peers, I already have done so.

Chris Hindle | Chief Executive | Nua Healthcare