It’s late in the afternoon by the time I get the chance to sit down with Tom, which means the champagne has been flowing for some considerable hours. Tom is always lively with a joke at hand, so I know this chat is going to be entertaining. He has an abundance of relentless energy and he’s plowed it into a pretty impressive business.
I heard you’ve been out exploring today?
Ha, yes, we’ve been exploring the pub. It’s been a hilarious afternoon.
What were you expecting before you got here?
Honestly, I was expecting there to be some seriously intimidating people involved, and I wasn’t wrong! There are some really impressive people involved with this project. I guess I was also expecting there to be a competitive atmosphere between the Europeans and the guys representing the States but it’s been so cool. Everyone has become friends and we’re all sharing ideas……. As cheesy as that sounds, there is a genuine respect for one another on set and everyone wants to learn of one another.
You enjoying it so far?
I’m loving it! ……. Slightly crapping myself being on camera, but hey let’s give it a go!
You’re one of the bosses.
Yes – the youngest boss…… I’ll have you know 😉
Impressive! And what are your thoughts on the candidates?
Well I haven’t seen the American pitches yet so I can’t say much about that but Kelly seems quite strong and fiery, both her and Rim seem like strong characters. The European candidates are great, Adam has actually produced something that is a small take on what we do in my business currently, so that’s interesting to me. Stephanie hasn’t really come out of her shell yet but she is super sophisticated and incredibly bright. Looking forward to seeing her progress in this competition and I think we can really bring out her belief and confidence.
What is your business?
We’re LHi Group. We are a group of non-competing specialist recruitment brands operating across technology, life sciences, energy and the built environment.
When did you start it?
I started my company, then just one brand called Lawrence Harvey Search & Selection, in 2002.
How’s the journey been?
It’s been great. I started the company with eight months’ recruitment experience and a small graduate loan. The first four or five years were really slow growth because I had no money at all. It took me a while to save up enough money to move out of my attic and hire my first employee. We’ve grown a lot since then. Exponentially actually! We were listed in the Sunday Times Fastest Growing companies then top 100 Best Companies to work for so it’s been a real journey. Most recently we’ve been going International with now three international offices (New York, Munich and London) and I somehow won ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ last year in Recruitment International’s industry awards, which was humbling. And now I’m a Boss on TR5. So every day is new and exciting.
Who have you met here that you’ve really gotten on with?
Everyone to be honest!…… But with regard to the other bosses who I see more regularly – I think the whole American team are great and hanging out with Darren Ryemill has been perhaps my biggest surprise. Even though we’re direct competitors in industry, we’ve been put together on the same team and we get along extraordinarily well and instead of working against one another we’re very much joining forces to try to win this – it feels like some kind of weird big brother thing! Randy has been cool and hearing his innovations on Technology has been really interesting for me. Keith Potts is a wicked guy and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Amy Golding, who is really cool and very strategic.
Has there been any conflict between America and the Europeans?
Well I think everyone is competitive against each other naturally. Darren and I are both really competitive people, I would even say that we’re almost more competitive than the US team. From what I have observed, the Americans seem to have more conflict internally than our team – I would like to think Darren and I, together with Ann Swain form a formidable team.
Why did you decide to do this?
Well I rarely meet anyone outside my own company because I’m so involved in it. I’m the CEO and it’s privately owned by me. Even though I have an incredible leadership team beneath me, it can be a lonely place sometimes. It’s good to meet people here who are in similar positions and I’m keen to learn from them and share experiences. It also helps me to look to the future with new ideas.
Has Top Recruiter helped build your brand?
I think so. Chris is very committed to elevating recruitment as an industry and I genuinely believe this is going to be a classy show. It will show the world what we do and how we are moving the recruitment industry forwards with new and innovative ideas. It will elevate the industry. Regarding my personal brand, I guess that will depend on how I am on camera…………….I’ll probably suck!!! Ha .
From everything I’ve heard, everyone is great on camera.
…………..Great, even more pressure!
Ha, no that includes you.
What do you think you’ll take away from this experience?
Loads of ideas and new contacts. Meeting this incredible bunch of professionals has been the greatest part for me.
What does The Movement mean to you?
I think there’s a perception of the recruitment industry that we’re all out to just make a quick buck. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have companies like mine that have survived market crashes and grown during downturns over the last 15 years. The whole movement is showing that as an industry we are trying to evolve and looking at ways in which our businesses can be a valuable partner to clients, not just seen as a costly supplier. It’s a movement towards identifying new ideas and being innovative in how we can all turn recruitment from a cost centre to a profit centre for our clients.
What’s been your favourite moment?
I think probably the first day. The excitement of everyone coming together, meeting for the first time and forming friendships.
What’s your favourite thing about recruitment?
It’s such an innovative, incredibly fast growing industry. So, it’s always changing and people are open to new ideas. I used to be a civil engineer before I got into recruitment and that’s an industry that seems (in comparison) so against change or new ideas, whereas in recruitment, there’s a real entrepreneurial spirit. It’s fun and social. I love that.
Like I said, the champagne has been flowing all day and before you know it, the conversation has digressed, people have joined in, and Darren Ryemill and Tom have set up a miniature game of volleyball in the portrait room and all hope of conversation is lost. I do the smart thing, and join in.