Meet the team

With over 20 years' experience, our team members have their own areas of expertise, niche markets and geographical areas. But they all share a professional, proactive and consultative approach that has earned us our reputation for quality.

We provide an informed, high-quality service, keeping fully up to date with the initiatives and developments that impact on our customers. We have the added advantage of being able to draw on the knowledge and expertise of our colleagues across the CIPFA community.

Philippa Watkins – Associate Director, Local Government 

Philippa is the associate director at CIPFA-Penna working across the public sector with a particular focus on local government. With 20 years' recruitment expertise, 13 of those in public sector finance, Philippa has a wealth of experience in recruiting for professional and often complex finance roles both interim and permanent. Philippa joined CIPFA-Penna from Hudson where for four years she was responsible for their local government finance business. 

Prior to Hudson, Philippa was a key member of the CIPFA Recruitment Services team for over seven years and worked very closely with Gill Kelly.


D: +44 (0)20 3849 2703
M: +44 (0)7710 098510
E: philippa.watkins@penna.com

Jonathon Sheppard – Senior Consultant

Jonathon SheppardJonathon joins the CIPFA-Penna team with over 12 years’ experience of recruiting exclusively for finance professionals and accountants. Most recently supporting a FTSE-listed utilities business in strengthening its large finance team, Jonathon’s expertise lies chiefly in partnering businesses across a wide range of sectors as a service-focussed specialist finance recruiter – helping set up and establish three Midlands-based start-up recruitment firms in his career to-date. 

Jonathon has carried out numerous end-to-end contingent and retained campaigns, permanent and interim, at levels ranging from accounts assistant right through to finance director, and everything in between. His focus will be on interim opportunities for clients and candidates in the Midlands region.

T: +44 (0)7739 985330
E: +44 (0)121 788 7986
jonathon.sheppard@penna.com   

Azfar Ahmed – Consultant 

Afzar Ahmed

Azfar started his professional life in recruitment overseeing operations, then moving onto finance, as a financial analyst before joining the interim team in May 2015. Azfar, as part of the CIPFA-Penna team, focuses on public finance in the local government arena. 

He supports authorities through placing qualified finance professionals in a variety of positions from management accountants through to finance managers through to assistant directors of finance.

D: +44 (0)20 3849 2616
E: azfar.ahmed@penna.com 

Catherine Bush – Associate Consultant

Catherine Bush

Catherine has over 11 years' experience working in recruitment at Penna and has a proven track record of exceeding performance expectations while always remaining client and candidate focused and continually providing excellent customer service. 

She has spent the last 18 months as part of the Executive HR Practice developing a strong network recruiting senior level interim managers across both the public and private sectors. Having now joined CIPFA-Penna as its associate consultant, Catherine will have a particular focus on local government finance.

D: +44 (0)20 3849 2620
E: catherine.bush@penna.com

Chris Macdonald, Finance Lead

Chris MacDonald

Chris is the Finance Lead at CIPFA-Penna and focusses predominantly on the permanent market within Public Finance.  Chris has worked in the recruitment industry for seven years where he has spent his time managing a variety of recruitment campaigns in both an internal recruitment and consultancy capacity.

Since joining Penna in 2017 Chris has managed and delivered on a number of high profile recruitment campaigns across various sectors but primarily in the finance field. Chris has successfully delivered a number of finance posts across the likes of Buckinghamshire County Council, Enfield Council, Brent Council & The London Borough of Richmond to name a few. Proven experience in developing relationships with passive candidates through various recruitment methods and has built a strong network of professionals across the finance sector over the past 7 years. Chris has carried out numerous end-to-end retained recruitment campaigns and has expertise in successfully filling roles from accounts assistants to finance directors.

What they say about CIPFA-Penna

"CIPFA Penna Team Philippa Watkins and Anthony Lewis recently recruited me to the Service Head Finance and Procurement at Tower Hamlets Council. The process was rigorous and I was kept fully informed by Philippa and Anthony about progress through the process and what I should expect at each stage. They also worked hard to fit the various components around my busy work schedule. Once I knew I had been successful they liaised with Tower Hamlets to progress the various administrative requirements promptly. I've now started and had several calls to see how things are going. I would highly recommend their services from both a recruiting and candidate perspective."

Neville Murton, Service Head of Finance, Tower Hamlets