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3 min read

FounderMetrics: Simon Gardiner

FounderMetrics: Simon Gardiner

Table of Contents

Joining Ifty Nasir this time is Simon Gardiner, the co-founder and director of Carrington West, an award-winning recruitment company named by The Sunday Times as one of the top 10 best places to work in the UK.

In this FounderMetrics episode, Simon talks about the humble beginnings of his business, the importance of attainable and unattainable goals, and why resilience is more important than anything else.

Listen to the full podcast, but whet your appetite with these nuggets of wisdom.

We started in a garage

I co-founded Carrington West, initially alongside James Fernandez. About a year or so after, we were joined by Alex Kerr and Nick Row as partners; they joined us in the Summer of 2022.

We bootstrapped the business; we had no prior investment at all. We've grown it from a garage startup. We had fingerless gloves, because January's pretty cold, and we were trying to type and make calls at the same time!

It was a whirlwind start, but we've grown to do quality work with a team of 110 people. Each and every one of them goes to war each day for the mission, for the shared vision of the business. We're really proud to be part of it. 

Goals should be a little unachievable

I believe some goals should be achievable, maybe 10 to 15%. And the rest should be fairly unachievable, you know, aspirational.

For the last 11 years, we've been trying to create the best place in the UK to work which happens to be a recruitment company. So no longer are we looking at what 'XYZ Recruitment' up the road do or whatever, we're looking at the best employers in the UK, maybe Europe, and we're trying to ascertain what's good to take from other businesses.

And it all goes back to the whole notion of being the best place to work. It's not just about having a coffee machine and snooker table, or whatever. It's about looking after the individuals’ aspirations and supporting that endeavour. 

Community links matter

As a business, we do a huge amount with the local community; we sponsor the university or sports teams, all 86 teams, and we assist in an organisation called Shaping Portsmouth, which links Portsmouth Football Club, the council, and probably 15 or 20, local businesses, including ours.

They look at everything from child literacy levels to nutrition to anything which can aid and help the local community to become a better place to live and work.

I was asked to do one or two talks at the university, having graduated from the workforce a few years ago. I've got a three-year contract with those guys and I go in maybe once a quarter to do some talks.

You know, to go to uni these days, you either need to be from a fairly wealthy family, or comfortable taking on debt. So I thought to myself if I'm writing this, and it's just sitting in my inbox, why can't I tailor it to individuals that maybe couldn't afford that, and the impact that could have?

So, the Level Out Level Up programme started; we're just about to go into a beta phase, if you like, with Portsmouth City Council.

They're going to be six one-hour sessions, covering everything from how to set a vision, how to set goals, how to create a more meaningful network and avoid a network that's going to essentially send you down the wrong path. 

Dig deep

I drum into my team to almost ignore the result, let's look at the process. So I'm a very process-driven person. We've got other directors in the business who just focus on the results and that's fine. I look at the metrics at the front end.

I look at the outbound activity of the team, I look at the number of conversions that we're making or look at ratios in the recruitment industry interview to placements, a big ratio, how many interviews we have to arrange, etc. 

A recruiter's secret weapon

Resilience is so important. Some of the best recruiters I've seen used knockbacks as almost a secret weapon; they go and then create two more opportunities as a result, and those people can't be beaten.

Resilience, determination, and the ability to listen are absolutely key.

If you think about the typical recruiter, you might not think of someone who actually listens necessarily; they talk or they listen, but some of our best people are really quite introverted.

We do get these, “used car salesman” type people through the doors, and they're just not going to the desk, because that's not what the clients are looking for. It's not, you're not going to succeed based on that. It takes more.

Catch the latest episodes

You'll find Simon’s episode and more wherever you listen to your podcasts. You can also find the full interview on YouTube. Like and subscribe to help more listeners like you discover FounderMetrics.

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