Taken from a recent interview with Richard Marshall, Editor of Supply Chain Online, here are excerpts of that conversation.
When did you first start out in the Recruitment industry?
After a few years working in the automotive sector and having finished college and university, I decided to travel and work in Australia. I met with my first ever recruitment agency, a small specialist International recruitment firm. I had several interviews and after a few weeks they suggested I join them. They promised, I could work for them and choose any job I liked in Australia if I gave them 6 months of my time, so I joined and I was still there 15 years later, having had the good fortune of being part of a management buy-out.
When and how did ProSearch come about?
I had previously worked with the Managing Partners of Procura Consulting and knew the team well, so I was attracted to join and establish a recruitment practice as part of the group. Procura are a specialist Procurement & Supply Chain consultancy, with cost reduction teams, spend analytics and procurement framework solutions and a recruitment practice was a natural development, as it blended well with the other services.
ProSearch allows the Procura group to deliver a one-stop solution to clients, before, during and after consulting projects. We have grown and now have our own local and international client base.
What kind of roles do ProSearch specialise in, and which regions do you cover?
We recruit at all levels across procurement & supply chain from Analyst to CPO. We have a range of solutions, from ‘Accredited’ Interim associates who can work as part of the consulting team projects and solus Interim consulting roles, through to Search solutions recruiting ‘hard to fill’ category specialists, management and senior executive roles. We also provide clients with access to procurement capability assessment tools for recruitment and training support services.
Our specialist search pedigree, developed across international search assignments, is now proving particularly useful in local recruitment projects. The covid-era has obvious challenges and where companies seek more procurement & supply chain capacity & capability, we have developed innovative solutions to attract, recruit and train the right talent for clients across the UK, Europe and US.
What sets ProSearch apart from your competitors?
We are the only UK based international recruitment practice that operates as a standalone recruitment business and as part of a larger Procurement Consulting group. This broader consultancy pedigree offers our clients access to a greater range of functional, local and global networks and expertise.
Due to this, we deliver a wider range of services that draw on our combined experiences, including Interim, Permanent, Executive Search, Talent Pipelines, Capability Assessment, Training and Fixed cost project support, which responds well to our clients’ current challenges.
What’s been the biggest challenge you and the company have faced since launch?
Starting any business is never easy, however, we knew the market, the broader expertise around us and we were confident about our strategy. I would have to admit in late March we along with everyone else were challenged by the unknown factors around the pandemic. Prior to Covid-19, we developed our services around the prospect of IR35 and Brexit challenges, we didn’t realise at the time how relevant they would be to the times we are living through now.
There can be no doubt that the rise of social media has had a significant impact on the recruitment industry. What impact does social media have on the way you work at Procura Search?
It is at the heart of everything we do, even more so since the rise of the pandemic. We are learning every day, how to develop good content, what platforms work and when, how to track and report and use the data to make sure you are doing the right thing at the right time.
The advantage of being part of a broader consulting group, is the access to good content and a wider audience of clients and stakeholders, all of who have an opinion and are happy to tell us when we are doing something wrong, as well as right, which is healthy and keeps the business on its toes.
How has the lockdown affected the day to day operations at ProSearch?
During the first few days of lockdown, we drew breath just like everyone else. The uncertainty, meant we had to talk with more people, find out what was happening in the market and try and build in contingencies to protect us in the worst- case scenario.
However, we were fortunate not to have to furlough, we work in a functional area which is busy and the majority of our clients are growing their teams, or need access to specialist interim support to help them deliver strategies for the now and the future. Also, the fact that we are an International practice and sector agnostic, means we have a big market to aim at, however like everyone else we will always need to keep our focus.
How are you finding working remotely and do you think the Coronavirus pandemic will change employers’ perception of remote working going forward?
We are all able to work from home when needed and due to the international nature of our business, remote working and travel was always a part of the role, which meant we had the IT systems and video technology to support us already in place.
Ways of working have changed significantly for everyone, which means clients and candidates are all more comfortable to meet online quickly. Meetings which may have taken weeks to schedule can now take hours to arrange and interviewing, shortlisting and recruitment campaigns can be managed significantly quicker, especially with the advent of better recruitment video interview platforms. The changes we have experienced in the last 7 months would probably have taken 5 years to have become best practice without the pandemic.
However, relationships are paramount to recruiting the right talent and building longer-term friendships with the people in our market, will never be the same without the opportunity of meeting face to face and enjoying the company of everyone we work with. It is and will always be, the part of my role I enjoy best.
The way forward has to be a blend of both, the better use of our time, the reduced commute and the continuously improving use of better technology, will allow us to meet at the right time and spend quality time when we do.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Learn from your own and other people’s mistakes and encourage others to learn from theirs”. I was fortunate to have mentors in my early career, who helped my personal development with this advice. These lessons have stayed with me.
What’s the latest news at ProSearch?
We recently surveyed an invited audience of over 500 Procurement, Supply Chain and Finance leaders to understand how they were reacting to the pandemic and the changes in remote working. That has led us to fast-track our use of remote assessment tools, online video recruitment solutions and technology to help us manage the relationships with our accredited Interims. A lot is happening in a short time, so watch this space.
Where would you like ProSearch to be in 5 years’ time?
Continuing to be happy and healthy.