Balmer Dawson Executive Search took the decision to specialise in the charity and non-profit sector exclusively, having been greatly inspired by so many extraordinary people working within the sector over the years. Gilly Balmer has successfully undertaken complex global searches at Director and C-Suite level for a variety of Higher Education Foundations, Charities and Non-Profit Organisations.  Zena Dawson is highly experienced at senior level recruitment, executive search and selection both nationally and internationally having worked within the industry sector as Group Director and Head of Human Resources.

We take the time to learn your organisation’s unique vision and values, ensuring that your expectations are exceeded by recruiting first class candidates with the potential to assist in the successful growth of your organisation.

Proud to work in partnership with leading educational trusts, charitable organisations and religious orders, Balmer Dawson Executive Search knows where to find talent and has done so successfully for the sector for over 18 years. Balmer Dawson prides itself on the standard and quality of care offered to clients. Working exclusively in this area, Balmer Dawson helps give companies an edge and a depth of sectoral knowledge above and beyond other generalist recruitment agencies and search firms. Their unprecedented success can be attested to by their client testimonial statements.


Dedicated consultants who bring energy, motivation and pride to their work.
Most importantly, bringing quality of service to the next level.


Gilly has 20 years experience in recruitment and executive search and now works exclusively searching to identify top talent for the charity and non-profit sector. Gilly set up Balmer Recruitment Ltd. in 2006 which was rebranded Balmer Executive Search in 2018. Having successfully placed candidates in the most complex of positions over the years, Gilly is fully capable of comprehending the requirements of any position and welcomes such challenges with open arms.

Gilly focuses on a thorough search process unlike the traditional approach used by the majority of recruitment and executive search consultants which can be a hit or miss affair and often depends on luck. Gilly is a Business Graduate of Dublin Business School (2001) and is also qualified in Professional Psychoanalytical Studies (2012) and Executive & Leadership coaching (2020).


Zena is an experienced global Head of Human Resources with a demonstrated successful history of working within a variety of industry sectors to include Upstream Oil & Gas, Finance, Telecommunications, Digital Technology and Retail. Zena has over 20 years experience and is skilled in the areas of recruitment, senior level executive search and selection, HR consultancy, T & D, coaching and performance management, Zena joined Balmer Executive Search in January 2021 to pursue her passion to co-own and develop a thriving executive search business; which is now known as Balmer Dawson Executive Search.

Zena has a particular aptitude for researching and finding talent that matches the exact profile sought by her clients. Zena is an Honours Business Studies Graduate from the University of Ulster specialising in Human Resources (1998), and is also a Fellow Member of the Learning & Development Institute (L&DI).


Balmer Dawson Executive Search provided great support for us when we needed to fill a senior management post in Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. I don’t think we would have secured the right person without Balmer Dawson Executive Search.

Philip Watt - CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland

Balmer Dawson Executive Search couldn’t have been easier to work with. We had a job that wasn’t easy to fill and they took the time to get to know us and what our organisation required. The candidates they supplied were top-notch and we couldn’t be happier with the result!

Maura O’Leary, HR Manager, Chime – The National Charity for Deafness and Hearing Loss

Balmer Dawson Executive Search were a joy to work with. They understood our brief, our timelines and our expectations. Their knowledge and insight of the market was exceptional and, importantly, delivered. I look forward to working with Balmer Dawson in the future. 

Belinda Clements, Associate Director Operations/Human Resource, Trinity Development & Alumni

Balmer Dawson Executive Search provided Spinal Injuries Ireland with recruitment services for new community support workers and a Head of Services. They were very thorough in searching, vetting and interviewing potential candidates. On each occasion they have successfully recruited excellent candidates. SII will definitely work with Balmer Dawson again and highly recommend them for any recruitment needs.

Fiona Bolger, Chief Executive Officer, Spinal Injuries Ireland

Balmer Dawson Executive Search have been a great support to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland helping us fill key vacancies in our Charity. It takes away all the stress of trying to find good people when you know they will look after this for you. We have been very happy with the professional recruitment support provided by Balmer Dawson over the past few years.

Fergal Smyth, Fundraising Manager, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland

We persistently use the services of Balmer Dawson Executive Search because they take the time to get to know the needs of the DCU Educational Trust in order to assist us in obtaining the best fit. In a sector built on relationships, their relationships have yielded strong results for our organisation.

Plunkett Tormay, Head of Finance, DCU Educational Trust

Our Clients


Would you like to speak to us about our specialist recruitment and executive search services?

Call Gilly on 086-6738823

Call  Zena on 086-811 0655

Or email us at