Head of Brain Health

Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA)

The Professional Footballers’ Association – PFA – is the world’s oldest professional sport trade union, representing professional football players in England and Wales, with more than 5,000 active members.

The PFA were looking to secure a Head of Brain Health as part of its ongoing commitment to brain health, and had recently undergone a series of significant changes leading to the formation of a newly democratically elected Players’ Board – truly diverse, engaged, and inclusive.

Reason and Purpose

The PFA had recently created a dedicated department to brain health and neurodegenerative disease. As such, they sought to hire a Head of Brain Health who would act as The PFA’s lead clinical executive, with responsibility for supporting and managing all former player neurodegenerative issues relating to the organisation.

Search Process / Methodology

Compass Executives undertook an in-depth research process, identifying organisations, associations and entities dedicated to neurodegenerative disease, sports research, commerce and industry, who closely met the criteria of the brief. No stone was left unturned with more than 500 individuals approached; 120+ interviewed; before a longlist of 14 then subsequently a shortlist of 8 appropriate candidates submitted for review with the PFA.


In a timescale of under 12 weeks from initial invitation to pitch, through to the successfully identified candidate signing their contract, Compass Executives delivered an outstanding expert in the brain health – specifically Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – in the appointment of Dr. Adam White. Dr. White is a renowned research leader working across sports, medicine and health. Before joining the players’ union, he was the Co-founder and Executive Director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation UK. He was also a Senior Lecturer of Sport and Coaching Sciences at Oxford Brookes University

Why Compass Executives?

Compass Executives were appointed following a highly competitive pitch process. Factors behind the award of the project included; understanding of the brief; sector & subject matter expertise; industry track record; engagement & passion demonstrated; and our commitment to diversity. As a newly created role, supporting the PFA to clearly define the accountabilities, expectations and
outcomes of the postholder was of critical importance.




Sport Trade Union


Head of Brain Health

Sector Specialism

Neurological Care

Year Founded





Compass Executives delivered on a key appointment for the PFA and the wider football industry. It was a complex brief involving creating an entirely new position. The role was vitally important, with the successful candidate taking on a sensitive and multifaceted responsibility across CTE, concussion and brain health in professional football. Ben led a comprehensive and exhaustive process, developing a deep understanding of the union’s requirements and using his expert knowledge to help scope and evolve the brief throughout the search. The entire process was professional, efficient and wellorganised, with consistent communication and feedback at every stage. Thank you to Ben and the Compass Executives team.

Maheta Molango, PFA Chief Executive


Ben has been amazing to work with throughout this recruitment process. This particular role was somewhat specialist and unique, with a particularly sensitive political context, meaning finding somebody with the right set of expertise could not have been easy. Ben was approachable and knowledgeable about the role. He really had a feel for the organisation’s needs and was able to convey this openly and in detail. He walked me through the recruitment process, maintaining regular communication at every stage. I have no reservations whatsoever recommending the work of Compass Executives to others and can only thank Ben for his professional mastery in recruiting to this role.

Dr. Adam White, PFA Head of Brain Health


Richard Gould, FREC DipRP

Richard is a Senior Executive Researcher for Compass Executives as an Executive Researcher following a highly successful 15 years’ experience as a recruitment consultant for the executive Accountancy and Finance markets. Richard’s experience spans both boutique services, and large-scale corporate organisations, where he developed relationships with both clients and candidates.