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The Client

WWF’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. Having worked for 60 years to help people and nature thrive, they are the world’s leading conservation organisation, working in nearly 100 countries.

Key Objectives

Oxford HR had the pleasure of working with WWF International again in March 2020, to aid in their search for a Finance Trustee to sit on the International Board.


  • Executive Search
  • Board & Advisory
WWF Panda

Being in the midst of a global pandemic, the search and appointment were conducted entirely remotely, with a very specific brief as to who WWF wanted to appoint. This was an important governance role, requiring a person of high merit and high levels of integrity, bringing a strong finance background with specific experience in accounting, auditing risk and assurance management. Diversity, both in terms of gender and origins, was also important to WWF, who continue to be very aware of achieving gender parity in their overall governance and wish to also ensure that the origins and locations of their trustees reflect the international nature of the organisation’s work.

Critical to this role additionally was the personality of the appointed person, who really needed to embody the values of the organisation as well as possessing excellent communication skills. The nature of a network organisation such as WWF requires its Board members to have a critical friend and constructive approach to addressing issues.  The complexity of the organisation also demands both patience and unfailing commitment.

Pay-It-Forward is a core value I learned from my father.  Creating opportunities for others can have significant impact and positively change their lives.  My parents immigrated to America in their 50s without speaking a word of English, to give me the opportunity of an education.  Over the years, I learned to leverage my corporate experience to help non-profit organizations such UN World Food Programme, winner of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, in the area of governance and strategy.

As a CFO, I also helped businesses understand the false dichotomy that doing good means diminished profit.  A business cannot function in a broken society.  As Professor Colin Mayer at Oxford University puts, “The purpose of business is to solve the problems of people and planet profitably and not profit from causing problems.

Elaine J CheungFinance Trustee, WWF International
Elaine J Cheung

Following an in-depth briefing, Oxford HR received very positive responses about the role and senior candidates approached were highly motivated to apply. Elaine J Cheung came through as a stand-out candidate amongst a very high quality and diverse longlist of applicants, who were committed to the purpose and ambitions of WWF. A purpose driven CFO and Board Director, Elaine possessed all of the sensitivities and experience that WWF were looking for.

Joining the board of WWF allows me to contribute my experience and at the same time learn the best practices for businesses to create a balanced relationship between people & nature.

During the interview process for the WWF role, I was also interviewing for my full-time position.  Working with multiple recruitment firms at the same time helped me see the stark differences that made Oxford HR shine.  Martine provided clarity at each stage of the process, made sure I understood the role and related challenges and asked tough questions to ensure commitment and alignment.  Above all, she had a personal touch, something I wished I had in my stressful search for a full-time role during the pandemic.  Thankfully, her abundance of compassion gave me such a boost of confidence.

Elaine J CheungFinance Trustee, WWF International

Photo credit: WWF