What was your career prior to joining RE?
I came to recruitment when I was 28, starting off as a temp consultant at Brook Street. I quickly worked my way up the ranks into the divisional management team, where I helped open 22 new locations for Brook Street across the UK and ran the South East branches. In 2006 I was headhunted by Randstad as an Operations Manager, before taking an Operations Director and then a Managing Director role at Parkside Recruitment. In 2014 I began my own consultancy business and worked with companies such as Antal International, supporting them with growth and development in the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Mexico, and Russia and helping them to grow to 250 consultants, with an annual turnover in the region of £26m.
How did you come to join RE?
I initially engaged with Greg Hollis, the COO. Of course, everyone knows of James and I already knew about Recruitment Entrepreneur from their superb reputation within the industry. Greg mentioned the upcoming position of Investment Director in the group and it was of real interest to me, having had some exposure to merger and acquisitions, and having seen that there are so many good people within the industry who doesn’t necessarily get the opportunity to make the most of their talent – I believe RE provides a unique forum for that to happen.
What does your role at RE involve?
My role is to assess the suitability of potential future partners and to talk to our future partners through the benefits of RE: how we can help them start or scale their business; and how we can enable them to really build a brand and create a business of true value.
What do you think RE’s greatest strength is?
There are many, actually, however, I believe the greatest strength is our experience and expertise. As a portfolio partner, you’re working with a group of senior leaders who have been there, seen it, written the book on it, and overcome the hurdles to building businesses of significance. To be able to work with people who have felt the pitfalls and managed to overcome them is a huge help when it comes to understanding how to really grow your business. Our senior management team has a huge collective tenure and enviable record of success in recruitment, from start-ups to scaling and managing multi-million-pound businesses.
What has surprised you most about the RE portfolio?
I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to much of the operational management side of the business and what I’ve seen is a very tight-knit team who are all pulling in the same direction. I think there's a real openness and honesty around communication, and there’s a lot of integrity in the business. The portfolio partners truly see the immense difference RE has made to supporting the growth of their individual businesses and fully understand the benefits being part of the group has brought them.
In your opinion, what makes a successful entrepreneur?
The first thing is the attitude, followed by hard work. You have to be of a very strong mind: running a business is not simple and you need to stick to and believe in your idea. But you also need to be willing to accept help and lean on those who have the resources to support you. Finally, someone who is driven, passionate, and can be a role model – you have to be willing to do as you say and lead from the front.
What do you look for in someone applying for investment?
If someone wants to launch their own recruitment business, they must have a least 5 years’ recruitment experience, as well as experience in managing a team, however small, and be able to show that they have the credibility to drive talent attraction in their business. They must have a specialised model or area that they work in and be someone who has charisma and can work well and collaboratively within a team.
In scale applicants, we’re looking for a business that already has a little bit of tenure; it must be within a specialisation; and they must be able to demonstrate a clear, sensible plan and idea of where they want the business to go and what they want to achieve.
What advice would you give someone applying for investment?
You need to be very clear about what you want to achieve from it. I’ve spoken to a few people who when I ask the question, “What are you seeking from an investment?”, they can’t answer it. Know what you’re seeking beyond money. Of course, part of what we do is money, but it’s also about understanding where you need support to grow your business and how we can help you achieve that.
What is your outlook on the recruitment industry in the wake of Covid-19?
I’ve been in recruitment a long time; while nobody’s ever come across a crisis quite like this one, there have been crises in the past. I believe if we can stick to our philosophies and continue to do the right things, we’ll come out of this stronger. The recruitment industry is always one of the first industries to come out of a recession. I’ve spoken to our portfolio partners and other industry contacts who have seen green shoots of recovery in the last two months or so: people are beginning to work on more jobs and more clients are willing to open up new vacancies. One of the biggest challenges will be the high volume of candidates in the market and trying to filter through to identify the right candidates for the right roles.
Finally, when you’re not working, how do you spend your time?
I’ve got three children so mostly looking after them. I’m the head coach of my son’s football team so there is plenty of training and matches to absorb myself in too. When my wife and I get a moment’s free time, we like to go out to eat and travel around Europe (although obviously not at the moment!).