CEOs' advice – have a go and get things done

Not having been braver about expansion and failing to spurn a ‘me too mentality’ rank among the regrets some of the industry’s top leaders have about starting out as a recruitment entrepreneur.

Fri, 24 June 2016 | By Graham Simons

FROM JULY'S RECRUITER MAGAZINE

Not having been braver about expansion and failing to spurn a ‘me too mentality’ rank among the regrets some of the industry’s top leaders have about starting out as a recruitment entrepreneur.

Opus Group’s Darren Ryemill, Caritas’ Debbie Smith, Goodman Masson’s Guy Hayward and Futureheads’ Be Kaler were among the recruitment leaders speaking at jobs and career marketplace Glassdoor’s second CEO & Founder Circle event under the theme of Driving Transparency. 

Speaking candidly, Opus chief executive Ryemill said a major regret was not having “bigger balls” when launching his business. “We’ve been a fast-growth business, and it’s been great, but have a go at stuff a bit quicker and get stuff done rather than think too much about should we open in London? Should we open in Amsterdam? Or maybe New York? F**k that – just have a go at it. I probably would have taken decisions quicker.”

Ryemill’s regret was shared by Futureheads founder Kaler, who claimed her firm was not ambitious enough initially. “When I look at our first business plan we were thinking we might hire an admin person after year one and we might treat ourselves to a few weeks’ holiday and a pay rise,” Kaler said. “Actually within a year we were seven people – we’ve grown 40% year-on-year. I think our turnover is about £11m now, and we’re about 30 people.”

Goodman Masson CEO Hayward regrets not committing enough consultants to some territories: “We’ve often gone into markets with just one or two people and it’s been a real ball-ache trying to make money and profit quickly… We went to Germany and we hired two people, hoping bit by bit it would be ok, and I should have hired six straight away – it’s been a real effort.”

Kaler said the last year has seen her firm be guilty of growing its footprint in headcount terms but paying a price for promoting top consultants into managers’ roles to train more junior consultants. 

Meanwhile, Caritas CEO Smith said she wished she had eschewed a “me too” mentality when launching her business, when she tried to replicate her rival’s businesses but doing it “a little bit better”.

“I think now we have matured as a business and what we have tried to do is innovate,” Smith said. “I think what we’re doing is to be quite different. We’re connecting with local government. We release research. We’re trying to get to the market in a different way, rather than just filling vacancies like a lot of our competitors. I probably would have started that a lot earlier.”

The event was sponsored by Italian luxury vehicle manufacturer Maserati.

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