As one of Recruitment Entrepreneur’s first partnerships, Walter James recently celebrated their fourth anniversary. A global executive search and human capital advisory firm, Walter James has established itself as an industry leader, with a team of 17 experienced recruiters working across the consumer, retail and life sciences sectors. We interviewed the team to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes at Walter James.
What is your role within Walter James?
Jackie Hempel, Senior Partner: I joined Walter James at the beginning of the year; I plan to apply my own set of skills and experience, as well as my fresh perspective coming in, to improve and leverage the areas of the business that can be further developed.
Jamie Davies, Senior Consultant – Digital Transformation & Advanced Analytics: My department was established at the end of 2018, so I am now looking to build my team out, in time becoming the frontier for all things data, analytics and digital.
Tatjana Vešligaj, Associate Consultant: I joined Walter James at the beginning of the year and my main responsibilities are candidate resourcing and management. I plan on working my way up to having my own clients and specialised area.
Daniel Bull, Executive Search Consultant: I specialise in procurement roles within the supply chain team across the food & beverage, life sciences and FMCG industries. I’ve worked at Walter James for three and a half years; I get a lot of autonomy, from handling clients to representing the brand internationally.
What is your favourite thing about working within executive search?
Jackie Hempel: The growth potential is truly endless. Our global positioning across a number of industries allows for huge scalability – there is no glass ceiling. Recent placements we made include companies in the Philippines, Indonesia, the USA and Africa.
James Absalom, CEO: What I really enjoy is being a good middle man; getting deep into a client’s needs and finding a solution, which happens to be a person. Our approach is very strategic and proactive, and consultative, rather than transactional. We’ve had clients create roles for candidates because they’ve recognised how much value they would add.
George Maropoulos, Senior Consultant: The diversity of who I recruit for and the trust senior leadership has in me. The nature of executive search is that it’s very collaborative, with everyone pitching in to fill key roles.
Hervé De Klerck, Associate Principal: The number of big clients we work with globally, from Unilever to GSK. You don’t get that kind of access and exposure elsewhere.
Why did you join Walter James?
George Maropoulos: James Absalom’s passion as CEO; the opportunity for growth; and the culture of transparency, which was evident even as a candidate looking in.
James Boyes, Senior Consultant: I applied to work at Walter James because it’s totally entrepreneurial. It goes against other companies where you are moulded into a pre-made format; James gave me complete autonomy to build a team and foster client relationships.
Daniel Bull: There’s a clear sense of ownership being part of a growing team; you are given the freedom to go as far as you want and work as hard as you can. Our growth from a team of four to 17 in the space of three years and our stellar client recommendations are testament to everyone’s commitment.
Phil Squires, Principal Consultant: It’s like a big extended family. Having been with Walter James since the beginning, the one thing that remains constant is the relatively flat structure and openness for discussion.
What is the culture like at Walter James?
Jackie Hempel: There’s a genuine sense of collaboration, with everyone motivating each other to achieve more. As a team, we share the wins and spur each other on.
Robert Smith, Senior Consultant: It’s changed completely since I joined in 2017. I think it’s fair to say that it was a bit chaotic to begin with, as start-ups often can be. We're constantly striving to further enhance the speed, quality and reliability of our process.
Dan Nathan, Managing Partner Euromedica: It’s a dynamic, progressive and meritocratic environment. There is a good mix of experienced leaders, mid-level people, and grads who are making their way in the industry.
James Absalom: I try not to employ any sort of command and control. I always want to know what people think and I’m quite transparent; there are no closed door meetings. I also believe it’s important to lead from the front. As a leader, you can’t ask people to do something if you’re not doing it yourself.
What training and development opportunities are there at Walter James?
Tatjana Vešligaj: As a new member of the team, I feel really supported. I have one-to-one training every week to build on my skills and confidence and I feel like I’m progressing quickly – I can already see a huge difference from when I joined. I made a placement in my first month, which I was really proud of.
George Watson, Consultant: I’ve always had really good exposure, speaking to clients straight away and being on the front line so to speak. When I joined, I was the most junior person so I was surrounded by senior people to listen to and learn from.
Hayley Manning, Executive Assistant: As well as recruitment specific coaching, we also do situational training which focuses on fundamental skills, not just for work but general life. This develops communication skills, assertiveness and teamwork, which are all transferable to dealing with the inevitable pressures of the job.
Phil Squires: Everyone has a clear idea of their role within the company and what needs to be done to progress to the next level. My role has evolved from being a researcher to leading a specific practice area.
What are your plans for 2019?
Robert Smith: Over the next 8-12 months I’m going to be working much more internationally, which is exciting. I recently signed a major global client, with four new senior positions to fill.
Hayley Manning: I’m focusing on building the admin function to provide further support to the team as the company grows.
James Boyes: Last year I ran my first networking event for transformation leaders in legal, with the aim of creating a peer network and encouraging transparency and collaboration. I have two more legal industry events planned for this summer – a candidate network day on project management, and one on change & transformation for leaders.
James Absalom: Since starting out, we’ve experienced incredibly fast growth and have built an enviable client base. Now, our goal is to utilise the full potential of those clients by taking a step back and optimising our own processes and approaches.