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Exclusive! Global M Founders Open Up About A Different Approach To Recruitment

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It’s always great to grab a morning coffee with company founders in the plush surroundings of the Hoxton Hotel, first thing on Monday morning – the next best thing to steaks and red wine in one of the Hoxton Grill restaurant booths 12 hours later in the day!

The Hoxton has serious disruptive tech credentials, as anybody who has cracked open their MacBook and availed themselves of coffee in between meetings, or as an alternative to their Silicon Roundabout co-working space, can testify.

Under normal circumstances, then, it might be considered strange to be meeting with 2 of London’s most well-known recruitment consultants; it’s not an industry well known for its innovative use of tech, or hipster approach to work. No. 1 Cornhill maybe, The Market Porter in Borough market perhaps; somewhere where old school ties and spanking shiny winkle pickers are more the order of the day.

But then again, Alex Hemsley and Nick Waller are not your average recruiters. Like their surroundings, they are considered, urbane and well-mannered, as opposed to single-minded, aggressive, and in a hurry. They can, and do, converse about subjects ranging from technology, the blockchain, Berlin, and what makes a successful entrepreneur. Most of all, they know a lot about how to disrupt the recruitment industry.

They are the founders of Global M – whose offices are situated almost immediately opposite the Hoxton on Great Eastern Street, and they believe in doing things differently. Nick has just returned from meeting clients in South Africa, and Alex is flying to New York that afternoon, but they are unhurried and immaculately turned out – which gives the impression that they are right on top of things.

Global M’s website tells us that the company recruits across 8 different industries; from pre-seed startups, to bluechips and global corporates; and hires across all levels and skillsets, from junior developers, to CTOs. It also tells us that the company operates in 26 countries, likes to form global partnerships, and that “expert execution” is what they do best.

Since I last caught up with them, Global M has moved offices, twice, increased the size of the team to more than 20 staff, and expanded their client base to include a range of companies with impeccable tech credentials, from Barclays, to Kayak, to Trivago, TransferWise and eDreams. Slightly more old-school, Nick reveals he is due to meet with PWC later that day.

But it’s the likes of PWC – a huge, well salaried employer – that are most keen to find the next generation of talent; who will be very different in everything from appearance to education, than the current one.

Big companies are searching for something that Global M refers to as the “intrapreneur”; an individual that can attune themselves to the company’s culture in double quick time, work out a path forward, and infect others with their enthusiasm, passion, and ability to get the job done.

This happens to be exactly the kind of individual that Global M say they can provide.

“We’ve had a big couple of years”, Alex begins, “but essentially, we are still focused on the same model. We want to distance ourselves from that old school “chop chop” recruitment style that is too focused on next month’s bonus target, and not excited by the companies they work with.”

“We see ourselves as the next level up; consultative, tied in to longevity, and mindful of a company’s cultural integrity.”

Global M’s model can be broken down thus: the first hire they provide to the company is the “intrapreneur”. They work closely with management to identify what’s needed, before bringing in an entire team to help them accomplish the company-wide goals that have been set.  First the trouble shooter, followed by the cavalry.

“The people and the culture is what makes a company who they are”, Alex continues; our model complements that – and it works really, really well. I’d say around 60% of our business happens this way.”

That means that Global M are employing the model not just around the Silicon Roundabout, but all over the world. Lisbon. South Africa. The US, where they work with “the next Craigslist, but better”, LetGo, with biotech firms, fintech firms, and cyber security teams – from Dubai to Dudley. They work with FTSE listed companies; any organisation that has a need for a “catalyst” for disruptive growth, and, of course, a lot of new hires to carry out the work.

“It’s not about borders anymore”, says Alex. What about Brexit? “We’re a tech platform”, Nick explains, we can be anywhere and everywhere.”

“Yes, tech is our bread and butter but we don’t restrict ourselves to just one sector – we have a model that is scalable and effective across most industries and we can really own this space because we are so practised at it, we can roll out the service quicker than anybody else.”

How does Global M entice people to leave their comfortable roles at one company, take a risk and join another, that is often in a state of flux, or rapid change.

“There is no such thing as a typical client, but I guess we could be looking at a mid-to-senior level engineer, say, a strong performer, but maybe somebody who is no longer entirely comfortable within their current surroundings; who is looking for a fresh challenge, wants to learn something new, try out ideas, and have the opportunity to really test themselves.”

I recall an incident years ago when I was temping at no. 1 Mayfair Place, for a finance company. I was rung a couple of times by a recruiter who asked me if I had thought of moving to Dubai? Apparently, the wages were high, and the companies desperate for people like me.

But who was I? the recruiter hadn’t a clue, nor was he keen to discuss anything relating to the lifestyle in Dubai, or the career development. Did I want to sign on the dotted line or not? No thanks.

“Exactly”, says Alex animatedly; we always want to match their values up to the opportunity. If you don’t do that as a recruiter, it is disastrous, for the hire, and for your business.”

“We know what it is like to, say, move to Berlin for 6 months, because we have either done it ourselves, or we have worked with people who have.” If you want the proof, check out the “Day in the Life” section on their blog.

“Wherever it is; Tel Aviv, Lisbon, South Africa (Global M work with a major mining company out there), it’s essential that the culture is a good fit. We’ll always work hard to make sure of that.”

And what do in-house HR teams make of the Global-M approach? “They love it. I takes the pressure off them, in a sense. We’re not trying to replace them, but when a company needs to go on a hiring blitz, to answer a need they have to change the way the perform a certain operation, then that’s where we come in.”

Global M’s model lends itself well to interim talent acquisition, also. This is where short term contracts are on offer than can be highly lucrative, given the nature of the work – often long hours and high stress – but where the right fit is business critical

“It’s cost-effective vs lucrative”, says Nick. “You have to invest a lot, but if the project is successful – and it should be if you have the right people working on it – then you save a lot in the long run.”

Both founders are well-travelled; they are abroad perhaps 30% of the time, either pursuing new business, or working with established clients. If you are pitching to somebody a move abroad, it’s as well to be able to feel at home there yourself.

And what does the future hold? More of the same; the “plug-and-play” model is working, its adaptable, effective and it brings in a lot of business.

Coffee-time is over and it’s time to head back to work. The Hoxton is a great place to talk business, but after that I am wondering if there are other places – other work – that I could be doing.

A change is as good as a feast, they say. Could I make it as an “intrapreneur”?

Could you?


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