Gavin Speirs: "We really back away from clients that are using three or four agencies. "

December 13th, 2016
“We really back away from clients that are using three or four agencies. ”
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Gavin isn’t your average recruitment guy. He’s quiet for one. You will never find him the center of attention in the middle of the crowd. Instead, you will often find him listening carefully, soaking it all in and giving others space to shine. However, when Gavin does speak, everyone always stops and listens to what he has to say. We’re walking through the grounds of the castle on the third day. It’s a spectacularly beautiful day and it’s hard to resist the pull of the sun.

How are you finding it so far Gavin?
There’s a lot of waiting around in-between takes. I tell you, I wouldn’t want to be famous.

Movie star life isn’t for you then?
No way!

What’s been your first impressions?
Interesting. I didn’t know what to expect before I came and I know everyone’s saying it’s great to have like-minded people, but honestly it really is. Having people you wouldn’t normally meet on a day-to-day basis. Having the opportunity to hear what they say about their own businesses. Looking at different views and being challenged on your own views.

Do you think that’s important?
Yeah because if you’re speaking to your own team or people you already know, you’re less likely to be challenged.

What do you think you’re going to take away from this?
A different style and energy. I manage my business in a certain way, but am I doing it right? I don’t know! But listening to others and how they manage their business, their approach is good. I’m probably not as commercially tough as I should be in certain situations.

Out of all the candidates, who has impressed you?
Stefanie. I think because she thinks like I think, which is not to say is right, but she’s really focused on data and technology. She’s also got a real passion for customer experience, she’s really focused on understanding what the client thinks.

And what about the other European candidate Adam?
He’s much more tactical about his approach. His solution fixes today’s problem, whereas I think Stefanie’s solution fixes the future problem.

Candidates aside, who has stood out for you?
I really like Ann Swain.

She’s a fantastic character.
Yeah, and not what you would expect. She’s hilarious and very knowledgeable.
Also Johnny Campbell. I’ve known him previously, but he’s very impressive.

How have you found getting on with the Americans?
Quite easy. I do a lot of work in the US so feel comfortable engaging with the North American team.
Everyone is gelling very well. Mike Bitar is one of the guys I’ve really loved getting to know too.

What’s your dream for recruitment?
I hope it becomes a more measured sector. Where there isn’t as much acceptance of second class service.

Do you think that’s a problem?
I do yes. I think it comes from low barriers to entry. Also perception. There’s still a lot of perception out there like, do we need to use recruiters. I think it’s more about talent innovation and how we contribute to clients’ business goals instead of just being a function that supports HR.

Do you think recruiters need to look at the business first and recruiting second?
Yeah. We’re now working with clients who are asking us to be involved in their bids to their customers from a recruitment perspective. Instead of coming to us reactively and saying we need this now, they are seeing us as an integrated part of their supply chain.
The other part that is really broken in recruitment, and is one of my biggest frustrations, is exclusivity.

Well here’s my example: You don’t go to a house builder and ask him to build five houses, and then decide which one you’re going to buy. For me, exclusivity drives accountability. All our business is exclusive with clients. We really back away from clients that are using three or four agencies.

You wouldn’t get involved in that?
Never! For me all it does is drive speed over quality every time.

And it works?
Very well. You know, I sometimes come to these things and feel a little bit like an alien. A lot of people are still doing recruitment in a very sales focused manner. I however, probably come at it the other way.

How do you think things like Top Recruiter are affecting the industry?
I think it’s a good thing. Raising the profile of the sector is never bad. And there’s some very intelligent people here participating. Also, people forget, human capital is the second fastest changing sector globally.

Is Top Recruiter helping the change?
Yes because people are more open to embracing discussion and disruption, I’m just not sure they’re willing to actually disrupt.

Is it all talk?
Well one of my points the other day was that I am frustrated of hearing people talk about ‘let’s improve candidate experience’, because not many people do.

How are we still talking about that?
Exactly! Internally we have a little motto we use. E = MC cubed.

What does that mean?
Engagement equals our ability to motivate, care, converse and consider.

Is there anyone you’ll stay in touch with afterwards?
Absolutely! I’ve been very much a head down person and don’t get involved a lot in the networking events, but I’m going to make a focused effort to stay in touch with people, and just share. Understand what we can be doing to help each other out.

What’s been your favourite moment so far?
Just experiencing the build-up to filming. There might be a lot of waiting around between takes, but you’re in it and you’re seeing it all come together.

How do you like being in front of the camera?
I’m warming up to it. The first time I struggled, but it’s getting better. It just takes time.
Also you’re comparing yourself to other people here. For example Torin Ellis on camera, he is phenomenal. His voice and the way he holds himself is incredible.

What are you looking forward to?
London and the finale. That will be really exciting.

We both know we need to go in and start filming again, but with the sun beating down, we take the opportunity to walk round the grounds and chat a little bit more. Because it’s not often you get to walk through castle grounds with successful business leaders and just chat about everything and nothing. And sometimes, you just find kindred spirits in the most unlikely places.