Abid Hamid joined Recruitment Entrepreneur as Chief Executive Officer in 2016. Over the course of his career, he's worked in more than 35 countries in various CEO roles, as the director of a UK FTSE 250 company and as a non-executive director of multiple recruitment companies. For the first of our 'In the spotlight' interview features, we sat down with Abid to find out more about the man behind the job title...
What was your first job?
While I was studying at university I did all kinds of jobs: making pizzas; working in warehouses and on construction sites; delivering kegs of beers; being a bouncer. I worked at a very expensive French restaurant in London for a while. On my very first day I dropped an entire tray of food.
Which person, living or dead, would be your dream dinner party guest?
The keeper of the archives at the Vatican. I'd have a million questions for them; they're sure to know a few secrets. I'd want to know everything, from the money laundering scandals to why half of the Bible's chapters are missing.
Tell us about how you set up your first business.
Very early on I knew I wanted to do my own thing. I set up a recruitment business, ARBP Consulting when I was 26 and ran it for 17 years. It became the largest recruitment training company in the world and I personally trained over 70,000 people. Actually, Miranda Hilton, CEO of Group 8, and 360 Search's founder Lynda Barnes-Mullin were both trained by me.
When I first started my business, my wife and baby moved back to live with her parents in Holland. I had to be incredibly disciplined and commit myself fully to work during the week. I visited at the weekends - there was no real option to fly in those days so I would take the train to Harwich and then the ferry to the Hook of Holland. I did that pretty much every weekend for a year and a half.
Abid and Investment Director, Angus McDowell with one of RE's recent investments, Darwin Hawkins. Mark Baker and Niall O'Kelly launched their Dublin based financial recruitment consultancy in Nov 2018.[/caption]
What would your superpower be?
Invisibility. That way I could sneak into the Vatican and look at all the archives myself!
In your opinion, what makes a successful entrepreneur?
You definitely have to be a bit of a maverick. The entrepreneurs that stand out are those willing to do something different and be disruptive. You have to have a very clear reason why you want to do it and be determined as hell. But if you think you're never going to make a mistake, you shouldn't start your own business; as Oscar Wilde said, "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes".
What mantra do you try to live by?
No maybes. I can't stand indecisiveness and procrastination. That doesn't mean I don't think carefully before making a decision but once you start doubting yourself, everything grinds to a halt. Also never make assumptions - you'll only know whether something works or not once you've tried it.
What were your 2018 highlights within the Recruitment Entrepreneur portfolio?
There are too many to mention them all. We hired over 50 people across the portfolio, built our in-house marketing department, launched in Australia, expanded to Dublin, and signed four new joint ventures. It was a busy year!
What is your idea of a perfect holiday?
Taking my dog up to Scotland, spending all day walking in the country, and then coming home to a roaring fire and glass of whisky.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone pitching for investment?
Know your numbers. Anyone can have a good idea but knowing the fine details is what makes it investable. If you take shortcuts at the beginning, further down the line you have to build your business on those shortcuts. So do the hard graft and take the knock-backs early on and you'll have good foundations. In the army they have a saying: "Train hard, fight easy".
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani. Next on the list is The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I'm an avid reader; I've always got a stack of books on the go.
What's in store for Recruitment Entrepreneur in 2019?
Our big targets are 40% headcount growth and further international expansion.
We're rolling out a substantial CSR policy, committing to helping certain organisations, not just financially but also in terms of time and expertise.
It will be a big year for training. Our Future Leaders Course kicks off next month - it's aimed at top employees within the portfolio who are ready for the next level of management. The 12-month course will cover everything leadership entails, from understanding finance at an operational level through to conflict and performance management. We are also developing a new leadership programme for our portfolio CEOs that will be a combination of internal and external training.
Favourite sports team?
Harlequins rugby. And England, of course.
Think you've got what it takes to join Recruitment Entrepreneur's portfolio? Pitch your business idea to Abid today.