Some reflection. Counting beans … or finding bean counters?
Way back in 1994 I started my ‘HR & Recruitment’ career having found myself pretty disillusioned with a graduate Chartered Accountancy job. So instead of counting beans for a living I started recruiting bean counters for corporate clients in London. Working for Robert Walters I was suddenly immersed in the dynamic, and back then, immature recruitment contracting industry. I loved the work, the crazy pace, the social environment, the people engagement and the broader industry in general … to be honest I never looked back.
Aha moments (not referring to the trendy band from the 80’s!)
Reflecting on these past 22 years there have been several key defining moments that shaped my thinking, developed my broader knowledge and experience and ultimately led me to some exciting career crossroads and opportunities.
One such ‘aha’ moments came from an opportunity to research the HR Outsourcing Industry for a large Recruitment organisation back in 2001. This resulted in me attending an HR Outsourcing conference in New York – this event firmed up my belief that the broader HRO space was going to grow and develop at a significant pace and large scale HR and Recruitment outsourcing was going to be an exciting segment of the industry to be a part of and would seriously disrupt the agency world I was then working in….and it did big time!
I am confident that another ‘key moment’ is about to strike and I am excited about the prospect of where this may take me. However, I suspect this particular ‘key moment’ will result in more fundamental change to the industry than anything previously experienced.
It took me a few years to join the outsourcing band-wagon but I eventually joined Alexander Mann Solutions in 2005 and for the first time went ‘client-side’ ultimately running the ANZ Bank and Deutsche Bank Careers teams in the Asia Pac region. My learning curve was significant and through these years, I developed many new skills and built up significant ‘scar-tissue’ that would prove invaluable in years to come.
Similar to my early days in London, I re-found my mojo and loved the fresh challenge of being on the inside and it was fantastic to feel part of a large corporate having worked in agency for many years. Whilst at AMS I met my ‘soon to be’ business partner and in 2008 we established TQSolutions, probably the most significant key moment in my career to date.
Timing is everything … or not!
Our timing was appalling, the GFC bit hard and several weeks after launching our business Lehman Bros collapsed and the market tightened. However, the ensuing months taught us to keep things lean, focused us on business development and forced us to set up the virtual and highly flexible business model we have today. Admittedly, we were close to pulling the plug six months in but thankfully, we started working with our foundation client, GE, that allowed us to fully scale our operations and establish the TQSolutions business we have today – thank you Jim Nolan and GE !
Challenging the status quo
As we started TQSolutions, my business partner and I reviewed the broader RPO market and thought it was missing a trick. No one was focused on small scale or project based outsourcing, the major firms aggressively sought large scale, whole of business client projects. Organisations were presented with a binary choice – to insource or to outsource with little offered in between.
This led us to focus on the development of hybrid solutions, or flexible service offerings that could wrap around existing, or developing internal capability. The outcome was a broader range of model options for our clients revolving around the notions of flexibility, on-demand access to capability / capacity and a model that is simple and easy to engage with.
On-demand services were born…..and today there are a myriad of players in this space including innovative broker / platform operators e.g. Recruitloop; a number of smaller niche businesses like TQSolutions as well as the larger RPO’s who are increasingly interested in ‘RPO-lite’ (albeit they appear quite late at the party!).
Post GFC, organisations that were interested in hiring, were desperately trying to reduce costs (read agency spend) and chose to build capability, establishing in-house teams to directly source talent for their organisation. This presented TQSolutions with a great opportunity to act as an independent advisor to businesses looking to establish operating models and longer term recruitment strategies. TQSolutions’ independence from large scale RPO’s enabled it to consult without model bias and over the years we have helped to support a wide variety of businesses implementing solutions and operating models that best meet the needs of the organisation whether it be outsourcing, insourcing or the development of hybrid models.
We have had a great journey to date and are proud of what we have been able to achieve for our clients and for our own team and business.
How sacred are the cows?
As with many people in the industry I have adhered to the many assumptions and ‘sacred cows’ that exist and held them to be true or necessary e.g. the resume, the interview process, the shortlist, competency based assessments, the reference check, talent ‘ownership’, importance of candidate databases, functional ownership of Recruitment by HR, need for recruitment process management systems (ATS) etc.
I am starting to form the opinion that a number of these assumptions should be challenged and in some cases removed or dismantled completely.
This year TQSolutions has been fortunate to work with a leading Australian corporate on a major project to ‘Reimagine Recruitment’ that will seek to define how recruitment should be performed at this iconic brand in today’s digital and consumer driven world.
We have been working in collaboration with a team from PwC whose design thinking principles and human centred design methodology has permitted some really divergent thinking on what is possible in our industry.
Importantly, the candidate (using a very broad definition of the word) is now front and centre and has our undivided attention partly due to general business focus on consumer / customer centricity. The power in the hiring process is shifting and to be frank it’s about time.
This particular project has profoundly influenced my thinking about our industry and I am detecting another ‘key moment’ that is shifting my belief set and challenging my assumptions. I am genuinely excited about the opportunities this will present to job seekers, clients, colleagues, vendors, and to me personally in the coming years.
It is time to start slaughtering some of our most treasured and sacred cows.
I will start to share some of this thinking in blogs and articles and will welcome feedback, challenges and constructive criticism from industry participants in the weeks and months to come. The world we are moving into will be more collaborative, more interconnected and more cooperative that we have ever experienced; this will have a profound impact on how we view and manage recruitment related activity.
Our industry will be required to go through a major transformation and our current ways of working will be fundamentally changed forever. It’s going to be an interesting and bumpy ride, but for those who are prepared, willing to learn and accepting of change, it’s going to be hugely rewarding and career defining.
I look forward to working with colleagues, clients and industry participants in the coming months to help develop a future vision for the ‘Recruitment’ industry that will better support businesses, make commercial sense and deliver a significantly improved (and appropriate) experience for job seekers.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a wild ride!