Chief Executive Officer


Chief Executive Officer (ideally London or near)    c. £65,000 full time                          

Preventable Surprises mobilises a global community of positive mavericks to persuade the financial sector to address systemic risks. We ask asset owners and managers, as long-term investors, to fulfil their fiduciary responsibility by acting as forceful stewards of their investments.

We are looking for an independent thinker and strong leader to work with our board members and the wider network, and lead the organisation into its next phase.

Founded in 2013 by Raj Thamotheram to show what investors needed to do differently if they were to stop enabling dysfunctional corporate and market behaviours, we are fearless in our challenges. We want to prevent the future BP Macondo oil spills, global financial crises and encroaching climate change disasters that have done /are doing so much to destroy our environment and economies!

Our uniqueness comes from the fact that we are a group of current and former industry insiders who are willing to use outsider strategies if these are needed to achieve change. We prioritise independence over scale – without corporate members or consultancy income to protect or support from institutions that seek to define our positioning, we are free to be responsive to opportunities, and to ‘tell it as it is.’ Our funds come from foundations and individuals who support our radical yet practical approach.


Will mobilise a large (150+) network of positive mavericks worldwide, working alongside Raj and the rest of the Board, and using grounded research to promote actions which are fit for purpose.

Will have a sound understanding of, and credibility with, the investment industry, and will bring the following:

  • Activist mindset, ability to plan and execute campaigns that challenge the mainstream;
  • Well informed about climate change and at least actively interested in other systemic risk issues such as income inequality and biodiversity;
  • Outstanding networking skills, ability to maintain and grow our existing network;
  • Track record of collaboration to create change in global organisations (which may sometimes mean challenging the same organisations with which we are collaborating);
  • Confident and motivating presenter, including to general public and funders;
  • Able to set strategy, making use of contributions from the Board and others, and work in a very small organisation and manage a small team;
  • Quick learner on policy and process issues.
  • A proven ability to raise funds from a variety of sources without compromising mission.
  • A good sense of humour wouldn’t hurt either!

Description of the role

As CEO, you will play a leading role in shaping Preventable Surprises’ strategy in a collaborative manner, and then implement the strategy, responding to opportunities and collaborating wherever possible with like-minded organisations.

Specific responsibilities

As CEO you will play a lead role in defining the choice of issues on which Preventable Surprises focuses. You will lead in the development of Preventable Surprises’ short and medium term strategy, and then manage and execute activities to realise the strategic goals. You will work closely with the Co-Chairs, other board members/senior advisers Communications Director and our network to deliver our strategy.  Specifically you will:

  • Build on existing successes to develop and implement a forward strategy on the climate related work, initially in relation to the energy utility sector
  • Develop additional programmes, with a possible next programme on the role of investors in dysfunctional (executive) compensation schemes and declining biodiversity, finding the resources to undertake this work
  • Get to know the existing members of the network through face to face meetings, attendance at events and skype calls, and motivate them to continue to support Preventable Surprises through this critical transition
  • Manage the Head of Communications (based in Belfast) through weekly calls and in person contact every 2-3 months and any interns/admin staff that may be recruited
  • Represent the organization at UK and international events
  • Actively work with the board to raise funds.
  • Maintain financial records and report to the Board on a monthly basis

To apply for the position of CEO, please send a CV with a covering letter explaining in detail how you fit the specification and why you are excited by this opportunity, to [email protected]. Deadline for applications is midnight EST May 10th, with interviews on May 15th.

Examples of Preventable Surprises’ work

Our Climate Programme– our major focus in the last 2 years – aims to contribute to the rapid energy transition and decarbonisation of economies by persuading company owners – investors – to ask for transition plans to a low carbon (<2°C warming) world. We create a “burning platform” for action by focusing on the predictable, increasingly quantifiable and unavoidable losses to their diversified portfolios if investors do not take action on climate change related systemic risk. We focus this education activity not only on investors but also those who influence them – regulators in some countries, clients and their agents, and perhaps most important especially in countries where regulators are not as engaged as they should be, civil society. In parallel, we make the case for investors, regardless of whatever else they are doing, todo one simple thing, namely support relevant AGM resolutions. In so doing, we highlight the critical importance of investors taking a clear, public stance because of the greater impact this has on companies. This also creates reputation benefits for those investors who manage systemic risk well and reputational risk for investors who maintain, without any evidence, that private discussions are more impactful.

Our work at present focuses on the following:

  • Publicising the systemic risks arising from climate change and making the case that investors need to factor these into their relationships with investee companies
  • Supporting investors framing 2°C scenario and transition planning resolutions currently in the energy utility sector, and seeking to increase voting for these
  • Developing and promoting guidance on long term transition planning in the energy utility sector, bringing together investors and companies to develop a shared understanding of the risks and opportunities the transition brings.

About Preventable Surprises

Preventable Surprises is a Community Interest Company (C.I.C), formally established in the autumn of 2015.  Our paid staff currently consists of Raj Thamotheram, CEO, who will change roles to become Co-Chair and Casey Aspin, Communications Director, with substantial unpaid input from Carolyn Hayman, (who is operating as Executive Chair in the current transition period), Tom Murtha (Senior Advisor, USA) and Cristina Puntaru (social media intern).  They and many others, in the UK, USA and across the world, are part of our network of positive mavericks who offer support on a voluntary basis. Because of the dispersed nature of our staff, paid and unpaid, we have not so far found it necessary to have dedicated office space, but we are currently reviewing this.

Our international board is made up, alongside Raj Thamotheram, of Carolyn Hayman OBE, Rich Pancost, Director of the Cabot Institute, Bristol University, John Rogers, previously President and CEO of the Chartered Financial Analysts Institute (CFA) and Raghavan Selvaratnam, an experienced finance professional. We also have Senior Advisers in the UK: Howard Covington, formerly a senior investment banker and CEO of an asset management company, and now Chair of the Alan Turing Institute, and Margaret Heffernan, author and leadership specialist, and in the US: Tom Murtha, a senior investment professional who has also worked in environmental NGOs, and Bill Baue, a sustainability thought leader and co-founder of Convetit.

The Board meets roughly four times a year but Board members and Senior Advisers are actively involved, often on a weekly basis, relationshipwithon particular pieces of work – writing op-eds, commenting on strategy documents, attending seminars with industry participants, facilitating contact with decision-makers at investment organisations, persuading high profile participants to take part in the online dialogues, and many other roles.

One of Preventable Surprises hidden assets is the large network of positive mavericks.  These individuals provide consider intelligence about how to create disruptive change and also help execute these plans, often acting as unpaid staff.  Raj will work closely with the new CEO to ensure this network is as supportive of Preventable Surprises in the future as it has in the past.

Senior practitioners, who have relevant experience, have offered to act as peers to help the new CEO hit the road running.  They include Matt Christensen (formerly ED, Eurosif, now global head of RI at AXA IM) and Helen Wildsmith (founder, ‘Aiming for A’ initiative (now integrated into IIGCC) and Climate Change Stewardship Director at charity specialist CCLA).  (Organisational affiliations are shown for identification purposes only – this role is in their personal capacity.)

This post is funded from individuals who have a strong commitment to the mission and by foundations that hrelationship withPreventable Surprises. We are confident that with a suitable CEO, we will be able to secure multi-year funding.

Back to all

Read next post

Energy utilities hold the key to reducing emissions – help us move the sector!

24 November 2016