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hirer TM

october 09 volume 2 issue 5

thehirermagazine.co.uk

Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

FEARGAL SHARKEY UK MUSIC NEW DEAL SHAF RASUL ONLINE DRAGON

CATHAL MCATEER FASHION FOR FOLK KEVIN GREEN £27 BILLION INDUSTRY

James Caan PLUS

COMMENT GAVIN WEBSTER TEN THINGS I COULD LIVE WITHOUT LIFESTYLE CONTINUING SAGA OF OUR RECESSIONISTA TRAVEL WE TAKE A LOOK AT BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN NEW YORK BANKING WHY PEOPLE ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON BANKERS LEISURE LOOKING AT THE COMFORTS OF A PRIVATE MEMBERS BAR

Oct 2009 £2.95

SOUND BUSINESS


Editor

Greta Hill-Lyons

Contributing Editors Brian Williamson Bobby Singh George Bewley

Director of Photography Mark Hamilton

Feature Writers Lesley Quinn Nicola Hamilton Fern Campbell Robbie Kennedy Gordon Smith Charlene Clifford J Miller Muirhead

Columnists

Shaf Rasul Guy Vickerstaff Josie Smith Steve Cook Rory Paterson Mark O’Dowd

Sales

Karen Murphy

To advertise please contact: 0845 230 0067

To subscribe please contact: subscribe@thehirer.co.uk Published by The Hirer Greta Hill-Lyons greta@thehirer.co.uk

Printed by Creative Colour Bureau All rights reserved. Editorial in this magazine may not be reproduced in whole or part without prior written permission of the publisher. Articles published do not necessarliy reflect the opinions of the publishers.

Editor

Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

the hirer

Greta Hill-Lyons

Hello Hirer readers, first of all can I thank you for your emails and comments on the last publication, I am glad so many of you enjoyed it and got great value from our articles and features. This month I met with the highly successful and enigmatic Dragon – James Caan, my time with him was both enlightening and inspiring and I hope that you enjoy the piece. I would like to thank James and his team at Hamilton Bradshaw for the hospitality extended to me. James’ well known success within the recruitment sector leads us to our feature on the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) the only professional body dedicated to representing the whole of the recruitment industry. I would like to thank Kevin Green CEO of REC, for his openness on the challenges they are facing with the looming implementation of new legislation and the impact on the industry that generates £27bn per annum in the UK. Cathal MacAteer the highly respected Glasgow designer who launched the successful FOLK label in 2001, in our interview he tells us why in the middle of recession he opened his flagship store in London and how it has bucked the market trend. My appreciation to 80s legend and front man of The Undertones Feargal Sharkey now CEO of UK music, for his open and frankness on the issues facing the music industry relating to unlicensed file sharing – the impact; loss of revenue to artist, songwriters and musicians. Our regular columnists have again delivered entertaining and inspiring copy giving us an insight of their monthly adventures in Corporate Land. In out next month’s edition out November we will bring you more articles and features on the challenges businesses owners are currently facing, with a special piece on the under 30s CEO and Entrepreneurs. As always please feel free to get in touch. Greta

Front Cover photography Aidan McCarthy 01


contents the hirer contents

Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

10

12

features

10 The Cast

This year’s Nation 1 Ball

12 Aspiring Folk

Some rather clever fashion Folk

14

16

16 Skies the limit

Ocean Sky the world’s finest aircrafts

20 Good ethics these days are hard to find Campaigning work of UK Music

22 Social Banking

subscriptions

annual subscription save 15% actual cost £35.40 discounted price £30 delivered to your door. subscription hotline

0845 2300067

Why people are turning their backs

27 James Caan

Interview with a Dragon

18

22

32 Relaxing at Home

The comforts of a private members bar

34 Steven McKechnie Talking property

36 Best Hotels in New York

The best business accommodation

38 Making Waves 20

32

£10 million challenge that’s making waves

45 Serious about standards

Interview with Keven Green Chief Exec REC

Columns

13 Book Review 27

35

3 of the best in association with Borders

14 Tiger Tales

Brian Williamson Entreprenurial Exchange

17 Salt and Sauce

Guy Vickerstaff from the Leith Agency

18 Phoenix Nest

Shaf Rasul the online Dragon

36

52

19 Media Man

Rory Paterson from Mediacom

31 London Business Forum

The World’s finest MBA programme

35 Mark O’Dowd

Corporate Bullies

42 Business Bubble

North East by Steve Cook

04

52 Tales of a Recessionista

One woman’s journey through the recession

corrections

In an interview with Mark O'Dowd appearing in the August ‘09 issue of the Hirer it was stated that Mr O’Dowd's former employer Bishops Solicitors LLP had suffered a £1.3 million loss. We accept this statement was incorrect . We accept that Bishops Solicitors LLP did not suffer a trading loss and apologise for any implication that they did.


Powermonkey Solar Charger Tough and water-resistant, instant power, wherever you are, compatible with the majority of standard mobile phones. LCD screen displays battery capacity and level of charge in the powermonkey. USB connectors power up iPods and accessories, MP3 players, PDAs, smart mobile phones, digital cameras, games consoles, BlackBerries, Bluetooth® headsets and many more digital devices.

the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

EVG 920 Video Eyewear This super-light eyewear weighs only 59g; it is compatibility with many portable multimedia devices (iPod Video, PMP, portable DVD/VCD players, PS2, Xbox, Xbox360 and more) and the built-in lithium battery enables you to have the sensation of watching an 80" screen from 2m away. Nanovision MiMo UM740 Display Link Monitor. Great for referring to notes while writing an email, checking info in a spreadsheet while entering data into a web page, keeping an eye on your to-do list while browsing YouTube or using IM. Features: 7-inch LCD panel, USB bus powered screen, touch screen functionality, a webcam & a microphone.

Kleen Keys 100% Silicone Flexible Keyboards are completely sealed water-proof and dust free and are easily cleaned with soap and water or disinfectant if you wish. Just roll up and put in your bag. Excellent tactile feedback similar to a standard keyboard and very quiet to type on. The ergonomical flat design reduces negative stress to the wrist.

gadgets

LaCie iamaKey USB Flash Drive 4GB Sturdy metal key design; fits on

a keyring with fast transfer rates (Read mode: up to 30 MB/s; write mode: up to 10MB/s), ultra-mobile and lightweight it has Gold SIP technology and is water and scratch-resistant. Swiss Army USB Drive available in 1GB, 2GB & 4GB with Red LED light, ballpoint pen, knife, scissors, file, screwdriver & keyring.

CHARLENE CLIFFORD takes a look at the latest gadgets on offer. 06

The alarm clock that runs away and hides to get you out of bed. Clocky is an indoor only device that can jump off a height of up to 3 feet. Allows you to set a snooze time 0-9 minutes - snooze once before he runs away and you need to get up. He can move on wood and carpet, the screen flashes when beeping/running so you don’t need to worry about tripping over him on those dark mornings. A gadget you’ll love to hate.


the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

Local Commercial Radio They’re not local. The DJs are just dull, bitter, supercillious no marks, stop clogging up our airwaves.

Australian Question Syndrome Used by countless middle class media types. It’s a sign of a limited vocabulary and zero intellect, and that's from a Geordie.

Hybrid Dog Breeds Cockerpoos, Labradoodles, Westipoos, just buy a poodle, they’re perfectly fine dogs in their own right. English Nationalism Mr. Parker Smyth gets the 6:24 to Waterloo every morning, the village green, cricket, strawberry jam. Nothing to do with where I'm from.

10

Madonna Have never got it. Stolen riffs, crap lyrics and a thatcherite ideal. Retire.

Militant Athiests Some of us unbelievers just keep a dignified silence. Methinks you doth protest too much.

Life Insurance When you’re dead, you’re going to be worth a lot of money, well lucky me! Talk about selling sand to the arabs.

Professional Scousers And professional Geordies and professional Glaswegians, what gives it away is that you always live in London.

Stag Nights Dressing as women or Roman centurions isn’t funny. Paintballing in the afternoon then on to a comedy club at night, then to a lapdancing club, try something a bit more original for christ’s sake. Radio 4 Comedy Funded by the United Kingdom taxpayer and appealing to a few posh people in the home counties.

things I could live without

Step forward Geordie comedian Gavin Webster the man that narrowly missed out on being a British Rail Porter as he can only drink sixteen pints a day. Big thanks to all at thestand.co.uk. 08

?


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the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

Virgin trolly dolly

One half of 118

Blue smartie

OXO cube

Wonder bra model (hello boys)

Apple silhouette

Wii tennis player

Caramel galaxy bunny

Milky bar kid

Donna Canning Account Manager

Mark Mcintosh Creative Writer

Angie Chung PR 10

William Brown iPhone App Developer

Caroline Yu Manager

Polly Li Interior Designer

Lindsay Wood Business Consultant

Kirsty Macara Product Designer

Brain Coit Software Engineer


It’s gonna be a ball... again

Your chance to get a VIP ticket and it could be you cinders...

Irn Bru granny

Tango guy

Lynx cave girl

Pampers baby

Sarah Ormerod Accounts Executive

Vicky Sinclair Designer

the cast

David Niven Civil Engineer

Baby Alex Professional Model

Just some of the characters you are likely to bump into at this year’s Nation1 annual Halloween Ball.

Friday 30th October sees the return of Scotland’s most unique corporate event; Nation1’s annual Halloween Ball. Now in its fourth year (having started as a laugh for staff in their West Regent Street office) the gig is growing from strength to strength, attracting some serious corporate partners and VIP guests. Last year the digital agency, that specialises in niche campaigns for high growth clients, teamed up with Jaguar and over 400 guests - enjoying vintage champagne, enough free booze to sink a ghost ship, live music courtesy of the Grateful Dead, DJ Heather Suttie and Lewis MacLeod comedian extraordinaire. Among the crowd last year was Stephanie Willemse aka Miss Scotland 2008, Kelly Copper Bar, The Curry King Charan Gill, John White founder DX Communications, Robert Carlyle, Anna Ryder Richardson and the team from River City. “That was genuinely the best agency party I have ever been to, and you can quote me on that” said David Reid MD Advertising Agency 1576. This year it’s back and even bigger. SGW3 the new venue is situated in Glasgow’s West End off Kelvinhaugh St. With over 450 VIPs from Scotland’s entrepreneurial, media and corporate world the event promises to raise the dead with more free drinks courtesy of event partners LA Bartenders. The theme this year is Advertising Legends (think Shake & Vac ladies, Scottish Widow, Sheila’s Wheels) with some top notch prizes for the best dressed including a VIP weekend at the Radisson for two and a flight over Loch Lomond courtesy of Loch Lomond Sea Planes. The venue will be decorated with over 1,000 candles and a state of the art video wall courtesy of sponsors Cameron Presentations. These are the hottest tickets in town. Every guest leaves with their own trick or treat bag full of sweeties and other goodies. So let your hair down, get your thinking cap on and climb into your Michelin Man costume for a credit crunch free zone and a night of unique madness and mayhem. Hirer readers can get their hands on them by entering a ballot online. Simply visit nation1.co.uk/halloween


the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

F

or many Glaswegians, a job in a local shop is treated as either spare cash or a stop gap for something better: that accounting firm you’ve always wanted to work for; the head-hunter dying to snap you up or even the director waiting to unleash your hidden talents. Not so for Cathal McAteer. Aged just 16, he started working as a ‘Saturday Boy’ in Glasgow boutique Ichi Ni San. It was here that his passion for designer clothing was born, and it has resulted in his own upmarket fashion label. Folk, born in 2001, boasts an impressive list of achievements for such a young brand. Around 130 independent boutiques and department stores worldwide carry their range; including fashion luminaries like Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. In 2004, Cathal successfully launched the brand’s sister range, Shofolk, a footwear accompaniment for the then fledgling fashion range and in 2007, despite the looming credit crunch, the label opened

it’s flagship store in trendy Lambs Conduit Street in London, thus cementing Folk’s arrival to the world of fashion. Cathal has also worked for designers such as Nicole Farhi, and it was his ability to work with other designers that spurred him on to create his own range. “Cathal was asked by a Japanese company to design some clothes for them for a year,” explains Fraser Shand, Managing Director at Folk: “Eventually he just decided to do it for himself.” A wise choice, it seems. Now Folk sell all over Europe, including Scandinavia, Italy, Germany and the UK. Sales have also been made in North America and even as far as Asia for the label. Press-wise, the firm have punched above their weight remarkably. Despite Fraser’s assertion that they are a ‘young brand’, Folk have featured in high end glossies such as GQ, FHM, Arena, Mens Health, Monocle and Euroman. They have adorned the pages of the quality

aspiringfolk ROBBIE KENNEDY talks to some rather clever fashion Folk. 12


book review press, including The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph and they have entered the blogosphere in the forms of Cool Hunting, High Snobiety and Hypebeast. Not bad for a brand whose entire ethos is not to be the most fashionable, nor even the most stylish. Cathal’s aim with Folk was to create clothes that his friends would like to wear. Quality control is a phrase thrown about by businesses so often that the phrase has almost lost all meaning. It’s akin to when people write that they are ‘personable’ on a CV. But with Folk, they have the evidence to back up this claim. “What sets us apart from the rest is the amount of time we spend selecting the right fabrics.” “Our attention to detail is another reason why people value our label. Some have commented on noticing that our buttons have six holes instead of four, and for us it’s the small touches like that that gives us an edge.” Such is the brand’s passion for quality that their procurement of material resembles an adventure trip; Alpaca knits made in Peru, shirts created in sunny Portugal, jackets crafted in far flung Hong Kong, their merino Knitwear range is assembled in Uruguay and back in Blighty, accessories for the business are produced. The entire Shofolk range is built in a family owned factory in Portugal, handpicked due to their 60 years experience of crafting shoes and the leather is imported from Italy. The future remains bright for the label too. Folk hope to open a new shop in London this November, and aspire to open more shops around the UK in due time. Eventually, according to Fraser, the firm plan to “expand on the retail” by making Folk more accessible to the average punter. The fashion industry certainly has warmed to them, but there is a significant difference between the catwalk and the pavement. Times, however, were not always as rosy as they are now. Like any business, Folk hit some snags, albeit small, along the path to the present. “It’s always difficult starting a small fashion business, especially with the kind of competition you face out there. At the beginning, it was a bit of a rocky road. Factories were difficult to find as we were unknown and new to the market but all problems have been ironed out now.” In a world of never ending fashion items each claiming to cater to the individual, the Folk brand is a breath of fresh air. The range boasts smart, sophisticated colours, bold, brash designs and a rigorous quality control process that will undoubtedly ensure future success whatever the financial weather. The results are already there for the business; after eight successful seasons in a row Liberty created a permanent installation for them, a testament to the brands instant eye-catching qualities. It has taken just 8 years for Folk to establish themselves firmly in the world of fashion, and if things go as planned, the next 8 will cement them as a power in their own right.

in association with

Re Imagine Tom Peters This is a visually unorthodox business text, but then Peters’ style has always been different. It has also been engaging, and about more than just business. His message is simple: innovation is king, so adapt or die. He encourages companies to innovate in areas where the competitors aren’t looking. Considered by many to be THE management guru of modern times, his earlier work ‘In search of Excellence’ was once voted the greatest business book of all time. But Tom Peters doesn’t pretend to have gotten everything right. His focus is always on being right next time. Good To Great Jim Collins Author of Built to Last, Jim Collins seeks to understand what takes an already healthy company to the next level. Collins explored the fortunes of over 1400 recent top 500 companies and boils them down to instructive examples. His conclusions (amongst them: humble and determined leadership beats a high profile and a big mouth) are sometimes at odds with conventional thinking but his research team of 15 people spent 5 years poring over every detail of his case before Collins very persuasively let’s the evidence prove the case. It’s hard to argue. Rise and Fall of Marks and Spencer Judi Bevan A trusted and loved brand, Marks and Spencer’s transition has gone from humble beginnings to an enviably stable place in the market. New personnel in the hierarchy brought new ideas and aggressive attitudes to policy change and the pursuit of profits at all costs resulting in an old brand in serious trouble. Enter Stuart Rose. Committed to restoring core values and regaining trust, slowly but steadily put the company back on track. Bevan presents this as a clash of corporate cultures, ethical business practice versus rat-race methodology, arguing a fast changing marketplace doesn't necessitate.


the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

Tiger Tales Brian Williamson Director Entrepreneurial Exchange

War – what is it good for – absolutely nothing. These iconic words from James Brown have proved to be quite prophetic in today’s world turmoil. However what if we change a few words and sing a new song. Change what is it good for - absolutely everything. Why? “Don’t waste the opportunity this recession is giving us” say many entrepreneurs. There is no doubt that in a maelstrom of change we are exposed to a mixture of menace and excitement; we witness the threat to businesses and livelihoods at the same time as exhilaration to new opportunities opening before us. In the steady growth of a few years ago I saw exciting opportunities for companies to change and make improvements but on too many occasions I witnessed a “don’t fix what ain’t broken” attitude. In today’s climate a great number of people face the financial imperative to change and many businesses I have spoken to recently, have reported that they have made changes for the better. Furthermore when the fresh shoots of recovery turn into lush green pastures these same companies will retain all the benefits from these changes and be much fitter and stronger. John Kotter is a Change Guru from Harvard and in his book, “Our Iceberg is Melting”, he uses a fable to describe change and how to manage and maximise it. He tells us that people are less likely to change themselves and others based solely on data and analysis. Instead compelling experiences are the key drivers to influencing behaviour. Feelings trump thinking. This explains why some companies were slow to act to the recession. They heard the forecasts of its coming in the form of data and analysis but did not act until they “felt” the impact of the downturn. The key here is to embrace change and sing – Change – what is it good for – absolutely everything. This month I have to tell you about someone who made a huge change in his life – no such thing as allowing events to drive him. Jim left a very secure career and went onto a Scottish Enterprise Programme called The Saltire Fellowship. He left behind his earnings and no 14

remuneration was offered on this 13 month experience. He also left behind his wife and two young daughters for 7 months as he took up unpaid placements in the USA and went to Babson to top up his entrepreneurial toolbox. He mothballed his dream sports car he had worked so very hard for. And what was, and is, his guaranteed outcome? Nothing. The risk he has taken is significant to say the least. He did not stretch the envelope, he tore it up, threw it away and looked for a new one! Jim has come to work with me on a couple of “interesting” projects. What did I see in this forty something guy? I saw hunger and a youthful ambition. I saw someone who worked as many hours as I do – and that’s a lot. I have witnessed a dedication and a mature questioning style combined with an impatience to achieve, that has kept me on my toes. I have often thought – who is driving who in this relationship?! When I look at Jim I am in admiration of a person who has decided to make such a radical change. What did his data and analysis tell him? No job and prospect of returning to his old career, working long hours for no income, no obvious route on how and when this programme would give him an opportunity. And all of this in the worst economic climate we have seen for 60 years. So from the data and analysis aspect this was a risk – a huge risk. However, now that he is in the middle of this change how does he feel? “I have never been so motivated and excited; never worked so hard and felt so positive. I am so glad I made the change!” I do not think it will be long before Jim bursts into this world in new clothes and gets a real payback for the investment he made in change. Change is something to be embraced as an opportunity, not a threat. It can be forced upon us or as in Jim’s case we can make that change at any time in our lives. I have a really good feeling about next month. Someone is out there and synchronicity will drive us together and I can’t wait to see who it is. My iceberg may be melting but I will never be sunk.


the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

T

he elite traveller is often subject to requirements that cannot be met by scheduled airlines timetables and services. On occasion it is necessary to be on the aircraft within two hours of booking the flight, something that you just cannot do with the best commercial airlines services, even BA 1st Class doesn’t offer this flexibility of service. To experience the most opulent of flights the best bet is to go for a private hire jet company, one of the best in the UK is Ocean Sky. Set up by husband and wife team Niki Rokri and Kurosh Tehranchian in 2003 in aircraft brokerage they quickly expanded and were in full aircraft service by 2005. To date they have doubled their initial fleet of planes by acquiring Düsseldorf based company Triple Alpha. With consistent growth and expansion, even during the recession, Ocean Sky has managed to become a major

league player in European aviation. It has fixed bases of operations at Manchester, Luton and Prestwick and offices in Salzburg, Zurich and Moscow. With an extensive fleet ranging from short range Turboprops seating up to 10 passengers, to long range Execuliners seating from 19 to 43 passengers Ocean Sky can meet the requirements for just about any flight. All the planes at Ocean Sky are less than 5 years old and are maintained to the highest specifications, so even the most nervous flyer should be completely at ease in the luxurious surroundings of the planes interior. The facilities due to become available on board some of their planes are comparable to those offered by 5 star hotel suites, the lavish outfitting in the Boeing Business Jet, with its 42 inch flat screen TVs, leather recliners, bedroom, shower and sauna, really is the last word luxury travel.

skies the limit...

George Bewley delves into Ocean Sky the aviation company that can offer the world’s finest aircraft to meet your every need.

16


Salt and Sauce

Guy Vickerstaff – Head of Art The Leith Agency

Their continued expansion across Europe, and designs on the Middle East, will increase their reach and by that merit allow Ocean Sky to grow further, and judging by their meteoric rise in the aviation sector it is far from unthinkable, quite the opposite in fact, that they are gaining recognition on an international level. The unrelenting success they have enjoyed, even in the most hazardous economic landscape, is testimony to the efficacy of their business model. Though the service they provide is for a very elite niche market, they provide that service in such a way that other companies in the sector see and realise the benefits of getting on board with them. The founders of Triple Alpha for example recognised that in coming months the private jet market will be subject to extensive consolidations, with Ocean Sky going from strength to strength it can allow Triple Alpha to be a lot more active in their FBOs and maintenance, which, according to co-founder

Hans Pfeiffer, they could not do without Ocean Sky. Ocean Sky puts safety and security at the forefront of their service, while holding their flexibility in delivering that service as of the highest importance. Their blue-sky vision of executive travel is second to none and their dedication to meeting every whim of their clients is irrefutable, with everything from conference rooms to fine dining, everything any executive traveller might need is catered for. So it would seem the jet set have little to worry about when planning their next trip, whether the journey be for business or pleasure the flight might just be the best part of the excursion. While the rest of us are crammed into Easy Jet and Ryan Air flights watching some lowest common denominator blockbuster and eating peanuts, the elite flyer will be cruising by in a palatial Ocean Sky jet, watching anything they like on the widescreens and enjoying a fine dining experience.

During the American Civil War there was a POW camp at Andersonville Georgia. Due to a wartime shortage of building materials, the camp had no fence around it. So to keep the prisoners inside, the general in charge drew a line in the dirt around the camp. He told the prisoners that this was the ‘dead-line’. If anyone crossed it, they would be killed on sight. I found that little story in an induction brochure for an American ad agency. One that is regularly credited as being the best creative agency in the world. What was curious about it was that it was quoted in the context of a piece about them missing deadlines. “We excel at the big stuff, big ideas done beautifully etc… but sometimes we fail at the little things, like meeting deadlines.” “The little things like meeting deadlines?” WTF, as the kids say. I suppose as a junior ‘creative’ you’re often kept away from clients so the deadline can seem like a slightly abstract notion. Not for you the embarrassing ‘so that’s it then’ silence that fills the room after presenting some hastily cobbled together thoughts, some cheery stock shots and a rewording of the brief. At any given time there could be dozens of projects rumbling through an agency. Some like shape-shifting bendy buses, picking up and depositing people along the way and others like your mum’s pushbike with a basket on the front. We even employ ‘traffic’ people to ensure these projects get to where their going without any nasty surprises. (And to make sense of that analogy.) Where I’m from, you miss a deadline, the presentation doesn’t happen, the ad doesn’t run, you don’t get paid and the agency business model falls apart. It ain’t no little thing. Here at The Leith we like to think we’re pretty good at the big stuff. We’re pretty good at making the big stuff the best it can be. And, we’re pretty good at staying up all night, pulling favours and doing what needs to be done to make sure that that big stuff doesn’t miss it’s bloody deadline.


phoenix nest by Shaf Rasul

Lots of people talk to me about starting their own business. Some of them are obviously just ‘talking the talk’ and have no intention of getting round to it. I call these people the superglue entrepreneurs – they stand on the top diving board saying they are about to take the plunge when in fact something, probably risk aversion, has super glued their feet to the board. The second type of would-be entrepreneur complains that they would start off on their own if they just had a little bit of capital. To them I always say “You could have at least £500 in capital in two to three days. Just sell some assets.” I’m not talking about the family silver here I’m talking about the stuff in the attic, the presents you didn’t want and other detritus that you never got round to throwing away. And it’s easier now. Selling your unwanted stuff no longer needs to involve car-boot sales – use the internet and you can get more customers and better prices. There are two routes into online selling. Firstly you might just want to de-clutter your home a bit and raise £500 as a seed fund for your new business. Incidentally, the benefit of offloading your second-hand goods is that any income you make is almost certainly taxfree. Alternatively, you might want to consider setting up a fully-fledged online business. For many people who have taken this route, their business is based around a hobby or passion. A mate of mine is a fishing fanatic, and started a business selling on the Internet his old fly fishing equipment along with anything that he picks up at car boot sales and junk shops – his work is his hobby. However starting up a business does require dedication. You have to be willing to put in the hard work and dedicate over 50 hours a week to successfully launch a start-up. An investor will look for a ten times return, and you will need to convey both your enthusiasm for the product/service and your business acumen when pitching to them. It’s also important that you’ve already done your market research and have the back-up to convince me that there is a significant demand for your product or services. But crucially you have to have integrity, know what you are talking about and know your numbers inside out. Do that and you may secure investment.

Bundy On Tap

On the 26th of September, the Australian town of Bundanoon, in the NSW Southern Highlands, stopped selling bottled still water, within the town precinct. Worried about the environmental impacts of buying bottled water the residents voted overwhelmingly to support the initiative which will make Bundanoon Australia’s first Bottled Water Free Town. (And possibly the world’s first.) As part of the initiative, Bundanoon is expanding drinking water facilities in the town. Businesses will make available for sale reusable drink bottles and chilled filtered tap water, whilst free filtered water stations or ‘bubblers’ will be provided for the public. The Premier of NSW has announced a ban on the NSW Government purchasing bottled water. “This represents a saving for taxpayers and it makes sense for those who consume the water.”

jobs boom

Areva rushes to hire workers as demand for nuclear reactors explodes.

In the French steel town of Chalon-sur-Saône, technicians are welding a giant drum that will one day form the heart of a Chinese nuclear reactor. Once complete, the 500tonne steam-generating unit being built by Areva, the French nuclear energy group, will be loaded on to a barge and floated down the river to Marseilles for export. A resurgence of global interest in nuclear power is driving a boom in orders from this area, the centre of the French nuclear industry. To cope with demand, Areva is hiring up to 1,000 people per month to prepare for a surge in orders from around the world. Areva, which is 91 per cent-owned by the French State, has more than doubled in size in three years as France seeks to cement its position as a supplier of nuclear equipment and capitalise on a renewed focus on the technology as countries try to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. It intends to recruit 10,000-12,000 staff globally this year and a similar number in 2010.


Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

the hirer

Media Man Why are they all still running scared? Rory Paterson Mediacom

There is no specific word for a fear of the Internet… It perplexes me somewhat that I even know this fact, but I found myself Google-ing it in the hunt for a snappy little title for this article… failed! You see I’ve been caught by surprise no less than three times this month, caught by surprise that there are still business people who openly proclaim that they find the internet scary. The digital media industry has kept me fed and watered for just under a decade and during that time I’ve always loved working with people to help them understand and take advantage of the opportunity digital channels, and in particular the internet, offers them and their business. Thankfully the horrible moniker “new media” has all but disappeared, and in the main, the internet has been widely accepted as a mainstream channel by the masses. No wonder, in July 2009 there were 36,912,000 people aged 15+ online in the UK, 61% of them went online everyday according to ComScore, Inc. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why some people might have a trust issue with the internet, why they might get a bit worried when they hear about online fraud, cyber-bullying or other sinister activities, that’s just human nature. However from a business perspective I struggle with a fear of the internet, fear can all too easily lead to blissful ignorance, which in this day and age is a very dangerous state to adopt. I doubt there are many people out there who could argue that the internet serves no purpose for them, whether it be communication, banking and finance, research, purchasing or entertainment to name but a few. I’m always quizzical of a person who tells me they “don’t get it” only to answer “yes” when asked if they have an email address, bank online or have ever booked a flight on the web. This does still happen though, unfortunately there are business people who seem to be in denial that the internet has become an everyday part of their life, dare I say it, a utility.

Over the coming months I’ll attempt to demystify some of the popular trends, myths and opportunities the internet offers Hirer readers, their businesses and consumers. I’ll look to include as much supporting evidence I can through the industry, clients, friends and my own personal experiences, potentially planting some seeds and drumming up debate on related topic areas. This month I’d like to kick off with an admission that I subscribe to a school of thought which I believe makes the internet a much easier place to understand, put very simply, the internet doesn’t do anything particularly new, it just does things we’ve always done much faster, makes them easier and more accessible, arguably it helps us do things better than ever before. When was the last time you were in the local branch of your bank? What about booking a holiday, did you consult a travel agent? Got something in the fridge you need a recipe for? What about your business’s CRM programme, I’m sure you had one those before the internet came along? You’ve probably always recognised the power of word of mouth for new business/sales, but it’s not just your friends and families opinions you get wind of these days is it? How would you approach a research survey of your customer base? Where would you advertise a job vacancy within your organisation? How would you disseminate a very urgent press release or shareholder update? You could do a lot worse than apply your experience and knowledge of how to address personal and business challenges using the internet. I’m not saying the internet hasn’t changed our lives, undoubtedly it has, but if you think of it as an advancement in how you’ve always done things it becomes a far less scary prospect. Together we can stave off the creation of a word which should never exist, a catch all for “a fear of the internet”! 19


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good ethics these days are hard to find Feargal Sharkey

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Nicola Hamilton takes a look at the campaigning work of UK Music in its fight to stem the flow of illegal and free music files.

epresenting the bulk of the commercial music industry, UK Music was founded only ten months ago, gaining much publicity through the appointment of its own musically talented Chief Executive Officer, Feargal Sharkey, former lead singer of The Undertones and successful solo artist. Bringing together eight different industry organisations (from those representing artists, songwriters and musicians, to music managers, record labels, music publishers, the independent music community and the two collecting societies PPL and PRS for Music) the organisation aims, where possible, to provide the broad church of the UK’s music industry with one united voice. This is no easy task, however it can 20

be said that UK Music have founded themselves as an organisation which delivers not only support for its representatives but also passion for the industry which it symbolises. Without a doubt, one of the most substantial issues facing the music sector at present, and for several years leading up to this time, is that of unlicensed file sharing over peerto-peer networks (such as Limewire, Pirate Bay or Mininova). This complex issue has come to the fore over recent months following the publication of the Government’s Digital Britain report in June 2009, and an ongoing Government consultation focussing on how to grow the UK’s digital economy (for instance, pledging that every UK household will have access to broadband by 2012)

while also sustaining and nurturing our creative industries. For UK Music - in consensus with other creative industries such as film, TV, publishing and gaming - the key to growing the online market, while ensuring copyright holders can be rewarded is to pursue a tripartite strategy: to encourage the licensing of a diverse range of new digital business models (for instance, the music streaming services Spotify and We7); to educate consumers about the value of music; and to request Government intervention to develop the digital market. Feargal Sharkey understands that there is no backward solution to this challenge and the only way for the government and the industry to benefit from technological development


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Best of British and worth protecting

is to embrace the future of music consumption in a manner which is legal and helps sustain growth of an industry where creativity is at the heart. In a previous press statement he said: “Any intervention must be designed to embrace new horizons and must be fit and proper for use in a modern world; a modern society and a modern culture. For this industry, regression is not an option. We have learnt from our past mistakes and have no ambition to repeat them. Our future lies ahead not backwards.” UK Music has given its backing for government initiatives to reduce illegal file sharing and believes that one of the most successful ways in which this could happen is through the assistance and cooperation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). It is expected that a number of new music services will be launched in coming months by ISPs, including Sky and Virgin Media. The question of Government intervention is also ongoing, with a Digital Economy Bill expected to be introduced in November. To inform this debate, UK Music recently published the findings of a research project undertaken by the

University of Hertfordshire, focussing on the music consumption behaviour and experience of young people aged 14 to 24. Reporting the opinions of some 1,800 respondents (making it the biggest academic survey of its type), among the most interesting findings it uncovered were: The computer is the main place where young people listen to music Music remains one of the most valued forms of entertainment. 61% said they download music via P2P networks or torrent trackers (with 83% of these doing so on at least a weekly basis. Of those using P2P networks, 85% said they would be interested in paying for an unlimited all-you-can-eat MP3 download service. Ownership of music is hugely important – both online and offline. And, ultimately, music consumption is becoming increasingly complex 86% of respondents have copied a CD for a friend; 75% have sent music by email, Bluetooth, Skype or MSN; 57% have copied a friend’s entire music collection; 39% have downloaded music from an online storage site; and 38% have ripped a TV, radio or internet stream. So where do the solutions lie? With

new legal services? With changing the attitudes of the “YouTube Generation”? Aside from commercial developments, one way in which UK Music is working to address this issue is through music education. Sound Rights, a website set up last year can be accessed by both students and teachers to enable them to understand more about the power of music through a range of video, sound clips and podcasts which work to help students focus on how influential music is in their lives. What is genuinely inspiring about this organisation is the proactive steps which they are striving to take in order to secure musical notes for years to come; something the Chief Executive Officer acknowledges is possibly the most important issue of all. Following the publication of the University of Hertfordshire research in August, Sharkey commented: “Clearly, the shape of our entire business will continue to evolve. However, we will achieve nothing if we do not work with music fans and young music fans in particular. They are hugely demanding in their needs, but collectively we must rise to that challenge.” 21


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W

hether you are enraged by bankers rewarding themselves for doing such a fantastic job of screwing up the global economy, or just disillusioned with conventional banking altogether and don’t want to help line the undeserving pockets of the world’s worst gambling addicts, yes we’re still talking about bankers here, then there are ways to sidestep high street banks when trying to secure a loan. Many will suggest credit unions as the best alternative to traditional bank loans, and they are good, in principle and practice, though there is a heavy focus on the union side of that, you have to be willing to invest a lot of time, money and trust in groups of other people. There are more individual ways, Zopa for instance. The online-based company is, in their own words, ‘a place where people meet to lend and borrow money… sidestepping the banks.’ Peer to peer lending is a pretty

simple idea, someone with cash to spare goes to the site, states what they are willing to lend at what rate of interest, borrowers are then free to take up the offer and, presuming both sides are satisfied, the deal is done. The theory is that both parties benefit, from the lenders point of view they get a much greater return on their investment than they would in say a regular savings account, and the borrower enjoys a much lower rate of interest than they would with a traditional bank loan. Zopa have done a good job of proving this theory having already facilitated £50 million of loans. So is Zopa a real contender with the big banks and will this put pressure on the banks to become more customer focused? In short: maybe. This really boils down to whether ordinary Britons will take the initiative and actively try to avoid using banks as they have in the past, challenging the banks as individuals as part of a wider social protest.

social banking... George Bewley looks at why people are turning their backs on bankers and ways to do it.

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With outrage at the conduct of the country’s leading branches at a, justifiably, all time high this does not seem unlikely. James Gardner, Director in corporate information technology at the Department for Work and Pensions, argues that Zopa is no real competitive threat to conventional bank lending as: “the simple fact is this: If Zopa were to have a material effect on bank lending, and its competitive differentiation is price, it will not win. It does not have pockets deep enough to win a price war with a major bank, let along the whole market.” This misses the point that the differentiation is not just price, but method and channel. Zopa has no branches, few employees, no massive overheads paid for by the public purse, and so is much more desirable at present as the source of a loan to the public at large. Zopa and its foreign counterparts; Wonga, Wesabe, Mint, SmartyPig and Prosper to name but a few, are based on a model of social connection first, with finance second. There are many stand out successes of finance models with a social, internet or telephone layer on top, Pay Pal for example, First Direct is another, it is just a bank without branches, a telephone and web layer on top of a traditional banking model. Both have proven themselves very sustainable. Targeting existing customers within any given sector by offering them a new way to do quite traditional things is an idea that has produced some of the biggest brands and products we know today, iPod leaping instantly to mind, and almost all of these innovations were said to be unfeasible and unsustainable prior to their overwhelming success. Chris Skinner, of the Financial Services Club, refutes James Gardner’s argument that Zopa is immaterial as a threat to conventional banks on the grounds that their model is flawed because they are targeting traditional customers with just a social media on top. This, Chris tells us, “is why Zopa’s strategy is fine in fact.” It makes sense considering the successes listed earlier. The overriding point here is that we, as individuals, now have the opportunity to act, to show the banks that they are now just openly mocking us and we won’t just sit there and smile dumbly while they do it. How did we get to the stage where we have to do things as drastic as turning our backs on banks altogether? Was the World Bank not set up all those years ago to ensure the depression of the 1930s and the ensuing political destabilisation could never happen again? It would then seem that we have been let down grievously by the organisations set up to protect us from the exact position we now find ourselves in now, perhaps they were too busy protecting the interests of the ruling elites, forcing the majority with the minority of wealth to flip the bill to maintain the wealth of the wealthy minority. And so it falls to us as individuals to protect our own interests, part of doing this is refusing to contribute to the bankers’ bonuses and taking a loan from any other credible source. I suggest Zopa.

B£ The Brixton Pound is an attempt to boost the local economy and tie local shoppers to local shops by George Bewley

Brixton is the first urban area in the UK to set up its own local exchange trading scheme (LETS). Under the scheme the community has money minted that can only be spent on goods and services in local businesses. The aim is to stop cash flowing out of the local area and into the pockets of corporate multinationals. Those in favour of LETS argue social, economic and environmental advantages. Sociological studies have shown that these schemes tend to present social improvements in areas where they have been implemented; the idea of a local currency stirs a patriotism and pride in residents who support it. That much is certainly true of Lewes, East Sussex, a rural market town occupied largely by the liberal middle class. Though Lewes and Brixton are hardly comparable so any success claimed there is not really transferable. The argument for the economic benefits hinges on the fact that Brixton money stays in the community, though money is, as any economist will tell you, a method of keeping accounts, whether it is Brixton or Sterling mint will have no impact on the productive potential of Brixton. The argument on the environmental front, on the face of it, seems sound; local produce means less shipping, true, however if local land is not of great agricultural standard it is then inefficient to obtain your produce there and actually has been shown to lead to a greater carbon footprint than simply importing goods causes. So the benefits of LETS are centred on the social advantages, and with so much support for the Brixton Pound coming from local businesses and residents it seems it has already strengthened the community spirit. Social amelioration could inspire more creativity in the area, which could, theoretically, lead to economic improvements. Keeping local money in the community and out of corporate pockets is something worth supporting on social grounds, even, so long as it is viable, on environmental grounds. Though as an economic model it has been shown throughout history, with very few exceptions, to be restricting. If the opposite were true Cuba would be a leading world super power on account of the trade sanctions. Trade with outside parties is necessary to promote growth, interest, capital; all the key elements of a healthy economy. In areas where there is a majority of privately owned local businesses community currency is a good gimmick to promote loyalty. A simple marketing ploy that bookshops and high street chains have been hip to for years, of course they call their currency ‘tokens’ or ‘vouchers’. Frankly it is likely that there will be little change as a result of the initiative, the people who support it must already have a strong sense of community pride. Those who previously did not care are likely to continue shopping at the multinationals that can afford to offer very competitive prices for the goods and services on offer.


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Navy suit £595, Waistcoat £140, Basket weave shirt £69.95

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Womenswear: Black suit jacket £325, Pleated A-line skirt £125, Classic cream blouse £75. Menswear: Navy Pinstripe suit £595, waistcoat £130, check shirt £85, tie £69.95, Black tasselled loafer £230


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inspired by the past

Grey suit £575, Waistcoat £130, Checked shirt £85, Silk Tie £69.95, Handkerchief £19.95, Loafers £230

In 1805 John Crombie founded what was to become an irrefutable British brand. Designed for the future the brand has continued to capture the very essence of fine British tailoring.

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T

he recruitment industry is where James Caan made his fortune and I have the pleasure of meeting the enigmatic and engaging Dragon at his Hamilton Bradshaw London HQ. We chat about his journey to date how from an early age he displayed entrepreneurial skills, how he fell into recruitment, the principals he has introduced to the sector along the way which have been adopted by the industry giants. Of course we talk Dragons’ Den the winners, the losers, those that got away and his recently completed autobiography ‘From Brick Lane To Dragons Den’. He believes life begins at 50 and at 48 he says he is looking forward to the beginning, so sit back relax and be inspired… To allow understanding of his outstanding business success to date we have first to unravel the pieces that make James Caan who he is today. His father moved from Lahore in Pakistan to Britain in 1961 leaving his wife and family. He worked tirelessly

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raising enough capital to not only bring his family to the UK in 1962 but to put a deposit on a home and start up in business. Growing up James watched his father in business learning from him and this instilled a great respect for aspiration and grounded him for the future. “I knew from an early age that if there was something I wanted then it would have to be earned.” Leaving school at 16 much to his family’s displeasure he saved enough money from his early entrepreneurial success to move into his own flat. The next step was to find a job; he did the normal search through the classifieds and although a relatively new concept in 1977, he got in touch with a recruitment agency and after a few interviews he secured his first job as a sales rep. Now earning money although minimal he was keen to start earning more, so he went back to the agency and had an interview with Grand Metropolitan Hotel, joining them as an Accounts

james caan

GRETA HILL-LYONS talks to James Caan... Who started his business life at the age of sixteen. With only his natural charm and a copy of the Yellow Pages, he swiftly became one of Britian’s most successful entrepreneurs.

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Assistant, skills he had learned whilst helping to do his father’s invoices and VAT returns. Like any young man James enjoyed going out and having nice things however his salary wasn’t allowing him to do as much as he wanted. For this reason, he fell into recruitment; Premier Personnel were advertising for a Trainee Interviewer – their pay structure was slightly different there was a basic salary and for everyone James placed he would receive a bonus, he tells me “this was highly motivating, although I realised fairly quickly that it wasn’t as interesting as I first imagined, but this was where I learned the whole process of recruitment from my boss Clive.” From these early beginnings James went onto become a Branch Manager at the age of 17 with Alfred Marks, then being headhunted by one of his clients Reid Trevena to recruit directly for them. This would prove to be not only a very lucrative job financially earning James £3-4k a month – which nearly 30 years ago was a staggering amount – and also prepared him for the future of running his own business. In 1985 the company Alexander Mann was born from a reverie James had about what his first recruitment agency would be called if personified as a person. Alexander Mann gave the impression of establishment, and he decided his first office would have to reinforce this notion and after tough negotiations he secured his first office at 50 Pall Mall, London. The office although compact and miteux gave the impression of the exact opposite, he held his meetings in the Ritz and no-one questioned it. Soon he was able to bring on a team and he realised that if he invested in his staff and was extremely generous this would benefit the business and as James states “little 28

things make a big difference to morale.” With the business thriving James was keen to introduce new ways to increase revenue, one such notion was recruiting consultants for other recruitment agencies, a suggestion he tells me was met with utter disbelief, “the team had thought I had gone mad, however I was determined it would work.” “Admittedly,” he tells me “it was a tough sell to start but once I mastered the pitch I made my first sale 8 weeks later.” Rec2Rec was born, the team quickly got on board and Alexander Mann established a highly successful Rec2Rec division. A model quickly replicated throughout the industry and is now the norm when recruiting Industry Professionals. James continued to revolutionise the industry with the introduction of Recruitment Events where clients are invited to meet prospective candidates, Flat Fees, Search & Selection and Account Management and with this action by 1990 Alexander Mann had made a profit of over £1/2million pounds. James is very generous and highly astute which was displayed two years later when through a goodwill gesture raised £100k in response to the Bart A&E appeal and in doing so Alexander Mann generated £1.8million worth of PR. Introducing a corporate social responsibility, this is now an adopted ethic of many organisations today. This propelled James into a new arena where he was approached to join many charitable boards, one of which was the NSPCC. This appointment had him debating issues with many of the UK’s most high profile and successful business operators such as Stanley Kalms, Chairman of Dixons; David Svenson, the European Head of Microsoft and not forgetting Prince Andrew.


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This was both highly rewarding in what could be achieved for the charity and a great insight into the greatest business minds of that time. James is a firm believer in networking and choosing a forum that best fits your business needs. During the 90s James was invited to join the ‘Young Presidents Organisation’ an elite club of Chief Executives from all sectors of industry allowing him to meet up and discuss business, strategies and options; a highly effective sounding board where discretion was always paramount. Today there are business forums throughout the UK, and he would highly recommend membership to this valuable resource. Having invested in a great team at Alexander Mann he stepped aside from the day to day running and left it in the safe hands of Jonathan Wright. Alexander Mann was investing in new markets with the introduction of Alexander Mann Technology Ltd and Alexander Mann Finance and additionally investing in new companies under the Alexander Mann group including Adlam Consulting, QED Consulting and Nicholson Consulting. Although remaining as CEO, this allowed James more time to attend industry events and it was at one such event ‘Management Recruitment International’ (MRI) that he met Doug Bugie. “This was when I was introduced to the concept of Franchising.” Doug Bugie and James founded Humana, an international recruitment franchise, transforming the industry further. They successfully grew the business globally having 147 offices in 30 countries; and they would go onto sell Humana to MRI, the company who first approached them to sell them the idea, enabling them to realise millions in value for the company.

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James then turned his attention to floating Alexander Mann on the Stock Market. It had been valued at £60m by a broker and just prior to floating they were approached by Advent International with a view to them investing. After many discussions James was persuaded that a private equity deal would be much more lucrative. James agreed to the deal under the principle that it was cash sale and was left wondering ‘what now?’ After a period of pure enjoyment and indulgence he entered academia going to Harvard to study their Advanced Management Programme. Returning to London James missed the daily routine of business and to the relief of his family started meetings with business colleagues to discuss a new venture in Private Equity. Having successfully built the team at Alexander Mann he repeated the process bringing in top professionals to his new business, Hamilton Bradshaw. Quickly word got out that James was back in town and his phone started ringing with deals and opportunities. The first deal saw them invest in a company with a turnover of £160m and when they exited the turnover had increased to £430m. As a small company with no investors to please, Hamilton Bradshaw makes decisions no other Private Equity company can; they predominantly work in the £1m - £10m investment bracket and make 2 or 3 deals per year allowing them to support the investment not only with money but with their skills and experience. Hamilton Bradshaw’s portfolio of investments now range through nursing homes, recruitment agencies and retailers – they have expanded their model to work in Pakistan. During this period James also set up the James Caan Foundation. Whilst the Foundation helps support other 29


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UK charities, James ensures the Foundation also helps give back to people in some of the poorest regions of the world, ensuring children gain access to a basic education and healthcare. One success story of this is the Abdul Rashid Khan campus in Pakistan, a school named after his Father. This brings us to Dragons’ Den, in 2007 James’ office received a call asking if he would be interested in a new BBC show, he was interviewed and filmed and then with his busy schedule forgot all about it. Although the show never took off the tape was shown to a producer of Dragons’ Den who in turn got in touch to ask if James would meet. After several meetings with the producers, Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne, James was still left uncertain of a place in the Den. Several weeks later he was invited to replace the outgoing Dragon, Richard Farleigh. One of the biggest challenges to the Dragons’ Den production team is not finding people to come on the show but actually finding time, at the same time, in the Dragons’ diaries for filming. James assumed that the Dragons would be fully briefed on each pitch, but found this was not the case; each of the Dragons are unaware of the myriad of presentations ahead. After treading water for 5 days he made his first investment in ‘Fit Fur Life’ much to the amusement of the others; he invested the full £100k for a 50% stake in Sammy French’s business, this investment has completely transformed Sammy’s life. Throughout his time at Dragons’ Den, James has in30

vested not only money but also time and experience in projects such as ChocBox, Rapstrap, MagnaMole and GoldGenie all now realising outstanding growth, success and some with exclusive deals. Of course there are the ones that got away and James hopes they have been successful. Dragons’ Den has had an enormous impact on James’ life and he is aware that he is blessed with good fortune – not just monetary fortune but personal fortune. This year has been a busy one for James. Recently James was appointed by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson as Co-Chair of the Government’s Department of Business’ Ethnic Minority Task Force; he received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Leeds University and is involved with the iAwards which recognise and celebrate the best British achievements in science, technology and innovation. James has also been invited to attend events such as Asian Women of Achievement Awards and is also regularly invited to prestigious events, most recently the Queen’s summer garden party. I ask James about the future – and am told “I have no idea what the future holds, I’ve never been a planner so it doesn’t worry me. I hope there are a few more series of Dragons’ Den, but I’m certainly enjoying myself too much to retire. I think my future probably lies in philanthropy as I’ve learnt it is not just money that can make things happen, but also my skills and my ability. Money is great, but it is what you do with it that counts.”


Here we print an extract from James Caan’s autobiography

Kosovo (1999-2001) ‘There wasn’t any electricity. Everything was black. No one could work without light, there was no TV, no radio, no cars, only darkness. It made me realise how much we take for granted.’ On our way to the next house we stopped at the place where the massacre had occurred. The number of bullet holes in the wall told their own horrific story. The next woman we spoke to had her own memories of that day four months before, and as we talked I just couldn’t understand how they were surviving. There was no dole office, no state aid, no employment and no bank. As I looked around, I couldn’t see a single building in the village that wasn’t a house – no pub, no shop, no café – and I couldn’t get my head round how they could survive without an economy. Nor could I work out why they were so friendly and not morbid or depressed. By the fourth house, I knew I had to help. “What can we do here, Yusuf?” “It’s your call, James.” “I don’t know where to start.” As we walked around the village we discussed a plan that would see me “adopt” the village. “These people don’t need blankets or clothes” Yusuf said, “They need dignity. Why don’t you give them their dignity back?” The aid agencies in the country were so busy dealing with such a complicated disaster that they thought it would be a year before aid reached the village. I decided that I would fund whatever the village needed for a year until the aid agencies reached it. We devised a plan that trained one person to use a computer who then made a register of every woman and child who was left. Next we devised a budget for each of them – not enough for luxuries but enough for Yusuf Islam formally Cat Stevens food, for electricity, clothes and transport. It was important to me that the allowance enabled them to live with dignity. I didn’t want them to have to sell any of their possessions or to beg, but to be able to live well enough that they could start rebuilding their lives.

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For those of us who don’t have two years and over £20,000 to spend at business school, the 80 Minute MBA is an attractive short-cut to business brilliance. Acclaimed business authors, speakers, consultants, researchers and co-founders of the Intelligence Agency, Richard Reeves and John Knell were brave enough to take on the enormous task of whittling down a traditional MBA programme into 80 minutes. Yet, they don’t have a single MBA between them! Now a popular annual event held by the London Business Forum and also a best-selling book, The 80 Minute MBA does not intend to supplant traditional courses. Rather, it promises to deliver the “key learnings” of an MBA in a high-octane, entertaining and informal session. So, why do MBA’s take so long to complete? “The real industrialisation [of the past few decades] has been in business books, most of which are crap,” explained Richard Reeves at the last 80 Minute MBA held in October 2008. “There are now five books on leadership published per day.” The event’s official motto is “Citius est Melius,” “Quicker is Better.” Or, as Knell says, “We’ve done the reading so you don’t have to.” Reeves and Knell argue that whilst there is a lot to be said for a full masters degree, business education contains many time-wasting concepts that can usefully be forgotten, or at least have their priority downgraded. One such example says Reeves is the idea of being an “authentic” leader. “Great leaders are quite often inauthentic,” he suggests. “In 1940, Winston Churchill’s strategic assessment was that the Americans weren’t going to [intervene in World War Two], the Germans were going to overwhelm us and we were probably going to go down… He did not stand up in the House of Commons and say this.” The 80 Minute MBA does not ignore the valuable elements of a modern MBA course. After filtering through the information overload, Reeves and Knell explore the necessity of great leadership. After all, the right kind of leadership can make a dramatic difference to a company’s fortunes. Amongst the serious messages of The 80 Minute MBA there is also an element of fun. Many of the modules are genuinely informative but some are designed simply to entertain. The language module consists of nothing more that learning how to ask, “How do you speak English?” in Mandarin Chinese, which in case you were wondering, roughly translates phonetically as, knee hoy shure ing wen ma. Reeves and Knell encourage students of The 80 Minute MBA to question many long-established and trusted business concepts. It is a painless injection of creative thinking and business inspiration that challenges you to think differently. The next 80 Minute MBA will take place on 20 January 2010. more info at londonbusinessforum.com


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relaxing at home... I

J Miller Muirhead discovers the comforts of a Home away from home.

’m apprehensive in the taxi. I’m in London on business and have been invited out for a “relaxing dinner at my Club” by a good friend. I’ve settled down from blind panic to apprehension as I have been assured by Reece Williams, the Club’s Marketing Director, there is no dress code “We just ask our members to refrain from nudity!” As it is – I’m wearing the only dress I’ve packed – a knee length green number off one of the better high street pegs. I arrive at 20 Portman Square and stand outside a magnificent building – the butterflies are suddenly metamorphosing into elephants. However, my friend is there waiting and we enter Home House. The warmth and friendliness of the club is immediately evident the moment we walk through the hallowed black doors. We head up the extraordinary cantilever staircase to one of the drawing rooms and I’m completely at ease – so far I’ve passed men in jeans, ladies on their mobile phones, there is someone reading a tabloid newspaper and even someone with a laptop tapping away at the keyboard (Home House is set up with free Wi-Fi). We sit in the Great Drawing Room (aptly named) and are approached by a member of staff who leaves the wine and cocktail list along with some nibbles, greeting my friend by name – without looking at the list a bottle of wine is ordered and the waiter disappears only to return promptly with the wine. Dinner itself is fantastic – the restaurant seats up to 80 guests and has wonderful views over the Square, and I’m told with a smile that the Club is also home to one of London’s best-kept secrets – the garden. Home House offers a fantastic fusion of old and new – designed in 1773 by James Watt, with interiors designed by Robert Adams, the grace and opulence is infused with an edgy bar and reception area designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid in 2008. 32

This sumptuous private members Club, brings people of all cultures together in a vibrant and relaxing melting pot, to meet friends, relax and network. I chat with Reece Williams who explains that “The tone that we like to strike is that of confident irreverence, not taking ourselves too seriously but comfortably knowledgeable. The House is fun, a “palace of entertainment” and not your usual private members club.” The Club is actually set over 3 houses on Portman Square, offering fabulous parties and events. The House Bar, The Bison Bar, 20 luxury bedrooms, a gym and spa – which is known as one of London’s premier boutique health and fitness destinations and 5 sumptuous drawing rooms, all add up to make Home House a hidden London gem. As a woman it’s the Gym and Spa that catches my interest more than the option of accommodation. The Gym and Spa are integrated into the Grade 1 Robert Adam building, allowing members to indulge themselves in the luxury of the mosaic pool, the invigorating eucalyptus steam room, and the sauna. Jonathan Goodair and his team of Personal Trainers are on hand to supply individual, high quality bespoke training programmes – no matter what your level of fitness! The Spa is run under the expert eye of Anastasia Achellios, beauty specialist to the A List and Home House Members! The Anastasia Achellios Method Spa has some of the best treatments from across the Globe to delight the senses and produce extraordinary results. My all too brief visit to the club ends with a final stroll down the wonderful, winding staircase to the discrete lobby where the attentive and friendly concierge guides me to my waiting car. I make a note to myself to call my friend to recommend me for membership.


Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. Charles Dickens


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talking property W

GRETA HILL-LYONS chats with Stephen McKechnie MD of Kelvin Properties

ith the property market facing its toughest period in decades, I meet with Property Investor Stephen McKechnie MD of Kelvin Properties, who agrees it has been tough, he explains there are definitely positive changes in the market place recently. He started his property career in 1995 renovating properties, he now holds a portfolio of over 400 throughout Scotland, from purchasing his first property in 1999, we discuss the highs and lows of his business! How did you start? “As an electrician to trade I ran a small building company

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in Glasgow after gaining a Government grant in 1995. We worked predominantly for property companies refurbishing flats. It seemed a natural progression to develop the business into investing and renovating our own properties, being a tradesperson definitely was a key factor in my decision to starting my own property company. I had witnessed the pitfalls of high renovation costs from other developers who had subcontracted out work.� Tell me about Kelvin Properties. “In 1999 I formed my Ltd Company with the aim to buy and sell flats, Glasgow at that time was well behind other


Mark O’Dowd Solicitor Director of Operations HBJ Gateley Wareing Founder of National Good Manners Day

Corporate Bullies

cities in relation to property prices, with a 2 bedroom flat in the city being bought for around £50,000. My initial investment was 6 properties, after renovating and selling we achieved a £100k profit which was invested back into the business. This capital allowed us to get investment from the banks and as well as selling properties we moved into the ‘Buy to Let’ market.” What about growth? “I actively built a network with letting agencies to sublet our properties which allowed me to focus on renovating, letting and selling. In year 2 we sold 5 properties and retained 10 for let, which meant £150k in rental deposits, providing further capital to increase our properties to let. Our ethos was clear – highly maintained properties were being successfully let through our networks and in turn they were requesting longer leases, at the end of the day there are ongoing costs when a property is lying empty such as factoring fees, council tax, maintenance, insurance etc... Our clients ranged from those on housing benefit through to the executive market, it has always been important to meet our clients individual demands. In 2003, annual property capital growth was around 20% and banks saw this potential and were happy to lend on the security of the buy to let business model. At this time we had 50 properties which were occupied and rented throughout Glasgow. This allowed further growth in purchasing offices and warehouses to convert into flats which provided a high return. On this basis we grew our portfolio to 250 very quickly. Kelvin Properties has gone from buying and renting properties to selling portfolios, recently moving into the Aberdeen market where we have 150 apartments fully occupied. Aberdeen has seen a great letting market and as yet haven’t experienced the full effects of the recession.” How do you move forward? “Whilst over the last 12 – 18 months we have gone from just buying rental properties to now buying and selling portfolios, we have had to ‘tread water’ for a while as the market stagnated. We have been able to keep rent arrears to a minimum, with more people unable to purchase their own homes we have seen an increase in our rentals as we have properties to meet most budgets. We are looking forward to continue to grow our portfolio, moving into new markets throughout 2009/10 and whilst there have been challenges, overheads have been kept to a minimum and we remain focussed on our cash flow, looking at seizing new opportunities.”

As a young chap with a smart mouth, growing up in the south side of Glasgow, I happened upon more than my fair share of bullies. From the gangs you had to pass on the way home, to the young chap who let his young sister smack me about for the only prize I ever won at school. They all had one simple well understood thing in common, the expression of their torment was always physical. Of course, most of us learn to deal with these types; I personally began to give them a slap back. I left all of this behind when I developed a little confidence; aided with some Army Cadet boxing training and a few Jeet Kune Do lessons. As I began my journey into the corporate world, I felt a strong sense of relief as I swapped the mortar attacks and sniper fire for discussion, reasoning, common values and the like. You can imagine my surprise when after only a few weeks in my new job, I witnessed a senior member of staff bullying a colleague. This bully didn’t wait until 4 O’clock, nor did she carry the obligatory sticks, stones knives and bad tattoos. Over the years, I have heard many similar tales. From these it was clear that that there was an even more dangerous sub species of bully, ‘ the silent bully’. In all of these stories, the silent bullies pattern of behavior was the same. They didn’t slap their victims on the face, they eroded their confidence, enthusiasm and commitment. They often left their victims doubting themselves. Displaying appalling manners, insensitivity, a lack of responsibility and on occasion aggressiveness. The stories were usually always concerning people in authority, often liked and even admired by their peers. In many cases they would mask their behavior behind rules to exert their control. It struck me that these people not only pose a threat to their colleagues, particularly during these challenging economic times, where people are working harder, in some cases for less money and are afraid of losing their jobs, but to the entire business. It can’t be good for businesses having staff only motivated by fear. It can’t be good for businesses being unaware of the potential of a claim for bullying being lodged against them or staff going off sick to avoid dealing with the manager who is tormenting them. Nor can it be good for businesses to learn that their hard won reputations, goodwill and branding are being eroded, slowly and silently in coffee shops and bars. Now I do not wish to make light of anyone’s experience of bullying, but it did get me thinking, how lucky I really was only having to deal with the physical bullies; at least you knew what you were getting!


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The Peninsula New York

Facing page Fifth Avenue luxury with sublime 3-level spa. Ideally located on Fifth Avenue amid the city’s best shopping, this Beaux Arts landmark has a renowned health club and spa that features a glass-enclosed rooftop pool with spectacular views of Manhattan. The views are equally impressive from the sky-high Salon de Ning. Spacious rooms and suites feature plush pillowtop mattresses, 450-threadcount Italian linens, large plasma TVs, and complimentary wireless Internet access. Suites include TVs above soaking tubs.

Mandarin Oriental, New York

Right Across from Central Park. Rising above Columbus Circle at the edge of Central Park, this Manhattan luxury hotel occupies floors 35–54 of the Time Warner Center; Lincoln Center is 3 blocks away, and theaters are 7 blocks south. Modern artworks and a glass ceiling sculpture adorn the Mandarin Oriental’s lobby. The Asian-inspired spa has customised personal experiences such as Vitality Pools, “eRooms with floor-to-ceiling windows command expansive views of Central Park, the Hudson River, or Manhattan. Entertainment systems include 36-inch flat-panel TVs and DVD players with surround sounxperience showers” and amethyst crystal steam rooms.

The Hirer has selected what we think are the best business hotels in NEW YORK. For us it not only has to function as a place to stay but must also be a place to work.

The Pod Hotel New York

Budget-friendly, hip hotel in Midtown East. The innovative Pod Hotel offers compact, cleverly designed rooms and a prime location 4 blocks from Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, less than 6 blocks from the Theatre District, and 2 blocks from subways. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available throughout the Pod Hotel New York. The lobby, with colourful murals and mod decor, is the setting for complimentary social hours Fridays and Saturdays. All rooms and suites feature iPod docking stations and comfy custom bedding. Rooms offer LCD TVs and private or shared baths with rainfall showerheads. Suites are larger and have private baths. 36

The Pierre, A Taj Hotel

Upper East Side elegance across from Central Park. Known for its gracious service, the iconic Fifth Avenue hotel overlooking the emerald expanse of Central Park re-opened on June 1 following a meticulous $100 million renovation to create new guestroom and bath interiors. Le Caprice restaurant, modelled after its legendary London counterpart, debuted at The Pierre in the summer of 2009. The hotel’s award-winning concierge team can assist with personal shopping, theatre tickets, private tours, dining reservations, and more. The Pierre’s freshly renovated guestrooms and suites feature high ceilings, abundant natural light and luxury bedding.

The Gramercy Park Hotel

Idiosyncratic, eclectic vision offers a perfect modern alternative to the institutional approach one now finds in even the most high-end boutique design hotels. The bold, individualistic spirit of the public spaces at the Gramercy Park Hotel is carried on into the 185 guest rooms and luxury suites here in Manhattan. They are generously scaled and beautifully appointed. Each is different with its own unique layout, vivid Renaissance color palette inspired by Raphael and distinctive collection of art and objects. Imported hand tufted rugs with deep rose velvet drapery on custom bronze rods create a beautiful palette with the mahogany window enclosures and wooden blinds.


BEST BUSINESS HOTELS IN NEW YORK


Rip it up... and start again

We asked John Smyth, who began his career in the engineering distribution industry 20 years ago, and was one of the founding Directors of Glasgow based company Worldwide Engineering. So John, what would you do?

Q: What type of new business? A. I’d love to create community soccer school academies focusing on social inclusion and education for young kids. Growing up all I did was play football without any real coaching. Giving kids proper football coaching in a safe environment would help develop them as people too, and ensure we’re looking after the next generation. Q: When to do it - during or after a recession? A. Football at this level is relatively recession proof. Naturally a strong business plan would be crucial to the success. However, passion, determination and giving something back would make this an exciting opportunity. Q: Where? A. Scotland. Let’s fly the flag and show the rest of the UK what can be achieved.

Q: How would you achieve the above? A. By getting a buy in from all the relevant authorities, government, local authorities, football clubs, schools and the SFA, who, collectively could be encouraged to provide sites that could be developed. Commercially the opportunity would be attractive to sponsors to align their products with the healthy, sporty environment that would be created. Ultimately we maybe even produce a winning Scottish football team – you just never know!

making waves

Leslie Quinn takes a look at the £10m challenge that’s making waves.

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he world has gone climate change mad and the quest to find a way to power the planet in way that’s environmentally and budget friendly seems to be an ongoing battle. So could the answer to this be to offer £10 million to scientists who can come up with a practical way to develop renewable wave and tidal energy. Alex Salmond seems to think so and is unleashing this very challenge to anyone willing to take it on, but is this really an achievable entity or just a novel way of keeping the EU on side? The EU has adopted a target stating that renewable energy should account for 20% of the EU’s final energy consumption by 2020. The UK’s share of this has been set at 15% by 2020 which means it has the largest target of all the member states. Alex Salmond has taken this goal on board and has realised the potential Scotland has in helping the country hit this target. He says “Our open coastlines and island straits can make

us the global capital for wave and tidal stream technologies. Just as the seas around Scotland have been at the heart of our hydrocarbon economy, we now have the opportunity to build a renewable economy.” To open this up globally and perhaps ease the burden on the UK as a whole he came up with the idea of the Saltire Prize where scientists and businesses around the world can compete to win £10 million. In order to qualify for the challenge, entries will need to produce a minimum electrical output of 100GWh over a continuous two year period, using only the power of the sea. The best overall technology that is most commercially deployable after considering the environmental sustainability, cost and safety will win the prize. The competition will be judged by a broad range of academics and will run from the summer of 2009 until December 2014 but, if no entry achieves the minimum output then the challenge will be extended for another two years.


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The Government have fully supported the challenge and justifies the prize for other reasons too. Alex Salmond explains the other motives for this overtly large reward. “In addition to the economic benefits there are a number of other reasons for putting this forward. This includes reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2010, accelerating technological developments in the global marine renewable sector and inspiring the innovation necessary to hit the country’s target of 50% of electricity generated by renewables by 2020.” In the grand scheme of things the Saltire Prize does look like an inspiring way to encourage a global response to an issue that affects every country but with a direct benefit to the UK. The challenge has attracted many supporters with a positive view on how successful the results could be. Andris Piebalgs the EU Energy Commissioner has praised the challenge. He says “The Saltire Prize is a global

call to action. The prize provides an important platform to seek out the important technological breakthroughs that can help unlock the enormous potential of marine renewable energy.” This mirrors the view set out by the Energy Technology Partnership who view the research and technology undertaken by the industry and academia will lead to discoveries that will secure a clean and sustainable future for our energy systems. As with all schemes of this scale there are those who ridicule the whole idea. Many people feel the £10 million being taken out the Government budget could be spent on more justifiable causes especially during this period of economic instability. Others see this as just a publicity stunt to make the UK Government look good and put Scotland in the fore front of international business. PR expert Max Clifford has gone as far to say it would be more of a better idea to put Simon Cowell in a kilt in order to get Americans to stand up

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and take notice of Scotland rather than publicise the Saltire Prize there. Many scientists have also put doubt into the validity of the prize as they believe it is designed to exclude small innovative companies and favour the richer marine energy company. This is due to the cost of keeping machinery in the water for over two years as well as maintaining and repairing it, something small companies can’t afford. There has also been comment made on how the prize should be based on the quality of electricity generated not the quantity as tidal power is notoriously hard to store for future use according to one scientist. The Saltire Prize in theory looks to be a great idea, a novel way of getting global attention to help solve an environmental challenge that could hold the key to open future doors of renewable energy. Or is it just that a novel idea, an idea that is being used to launch the UK as the front runner in achieving the unachievable? Either way it’s certainly making waves. 39


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Last month the REC released a report entitled, ‘The first signs of recovery in the jobs market’. Although ‘normality’ is still further than we would all like, the message is positive and one to listen to, by Iain Moir Managing Director ASA Recruitment.

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SA Recruitment is operating on the front line of the jobs market. We can see there are definite signs of recovery. Interestingly, whilst we were all reported to be in the recession trench, the recruitment market could see a great variety of situations. Some industries barely faltered during recession, others froze completely. Some specialist markets were positively thriving and continue to do so. ASA has been around since the 1970s and it was heard to be said, in the current climate, that “grey hair is good”. At last ASA had the green light to use and comment upon our experience of trading over the last 30+ years. Application of this knowledge realised a business which, whilst not growing hugely in the last year, certainly did not drop and is now placed to capitalise on the opportunities which an improving market inevitably presents. Any recovery is historically driven by the temporary market and true to REC’s findings, ASA are experiencing increases in those recruited for temporary work. Flexible labour will be the order of the day and is essential to a continued recovery. Indeed 40

flexible labour should have a permanent fixture in the future strategy of any economy. There are signs of an increase to come in the permanent market also. Companies have restructured and found themselves in a position to recruit and plan their staffing requirements for the future. Many businesses who are forward thinking will realise that now is the time to attract talent for the next phase of growth. As recession diminishes, we will be left with the natural evolution and trading of business. Some will rise and some will fall as has always been the case. Questions will be raised as to what direction markets will head. The retail industry is said to be in decline but is the retail industry really in decline or is it shifting online? Our activities would suggest this to be the case. One of our online retailing clients has experienced their busiest ‘quiet season’ in years. They are operating with high numbers of temporary staff to satisfy current needs whilst shifting their focus to the delivery of a sustained change in their market and no doubt towards a need

to employ the workers on a permanent basis. This is flexible labour strategy assisting business strategy for the long term good of business growth. Whether you are recruiting or seeking employment, our advice is the same; position yourself for a positive turn in the market. The future is bright. Bucking the trend of markets in the last 18 months, ASA has invested heavily in IT systems to further improve contract management and service delivery. We are putting our money where our mouth is, advising organisations to look for the next generation of talent. We believe in this we’re doing it for ourselves! Leaders of the future are sitting waiting for the call. Businesses with strong growth in mind are waiting to pounce. One thing is sure, the next few years will be interesting times and those who see that now will benefit in the future, whilst others who are waiting to see what happens will always be waiting. Insight and integrity are at the core of ASA Recruitment’s beliefs. Integrity is a given, insight illuminates the path ahead.


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Business Bubble North-East

By Steve Cook, CEO Empire HR

Scottish companies have been fined over half a million pounds for hiring illegal workers since April 2008. In a bid to crack down on those employing illegal staff, the Home Office have slapped businesses with fines totalling £670,000. These shocking fines are imposed on businesses regardless of whether they are aware that the immigrants are illegal and companies still have to pay them even if they hired the staff in good faith. One Scottish employer was hit by a £50,000 fine after being caught hiring illegal immigrants and an Aberdeen company has been forced to shut down after it was discovered three staff were working illegally. Recent figures published by the Home Office demonstrate that an alarming number of small businesses are being targeted – often prompted by public telephone calls to the UK Border Agency alerting them that there may be illegal immigrants working there. Following intelligence led investigations; enforcement officers then swoop in and catch employers by surprise. A takeaway in Glasgow’s Victoria Road was forced to close immediately after an unexpected visit from UK Border Agency inspectors and is now facing a fine of £30,000. At Empire HR we are acutely aware that the devastating fines could force many Scottish companies out of business, while some employers knowingly hiring illegal staff could also face a two year jail sentence under the new rules introduced by the Government in February last year. It has become apparent that employers are confused by the new immigration rules and the number of enquiries on employing foreign workers has doubled in the first half of this year. Unfortunately it is often small to medium sized businesses that are hit by these colossal fines as they tend to be dependent upon staff that frequently move from job to job which can make it difficult to keep up-to-date with all the pre-employment checks. These businesses are also likely to be struggling during these current tough financial times making it more probable that they will have cut back on the time spent on recruitment. However, these fines highlight how important 42

it is to ensure that there are records demonstrating that all staff have permission to work in the UK. Pre-recruitment checks are not something that a business can risk cutting back on. A new points based immigration system, introduced late last year, means most employers need to revamp their pre employment checks in order to ensure that they do not fall foul of this complex scheme. Combined with anti discrimination laws, dealing with immigration is now a minefield for most businesses which often struggle to balance the need to avoid a discrimination claim with the need to comply with Home Office rules on employing illegal workers. This can be an absolute nightmare for employers who are unsure of how to deal with these issues in the workplace without offending the workers concerned. Once they have been selected, any potential new employee should be asked to provide one of the original documents given in the Home Office List 1, or two of the original documents given in the Home Office List 2. These lists can be found on the Home Office website (homeoffice.gov.uk). You should take a copy of the main page of the passport which states the immigration status, and any pages which have UK endorsements. There should be clear wording on the passport or visa stating the applicant’s immigration status. These also normally state a date that the visa expires. To ensure that the documents belong to the applicant, you should check the photographs to ensure they match the applicant, and that the date of birth is consistent with the appearance of the applicant. This is an area where many employers struggle so it is well worth seeking specialist advice at this point. Admittedly this is an extremely complex and confusing area of law. Most business owners and managers will not be able to fully get to grips with the huge amount of rules and regulations relating to immigration – it confuses most lawyers too! This is where it is a real advantage to have access to specialist advice and support. It is well worth considering outsourcing this area of management in order to ensure there is no risk. Let’s face it, times are hard enough at the moment without the added stress of a substantial fine.


All Skills Recruitment Are you looking for a temporary staffing supplier that’s as passionate about your business as you are?

At Sercon People we pride ourselves on knowing your business to ensure we provide the perfect fit each time, every time. For more information telephone: Glasgow Team 0141 332 2669 Edinburgh Team 0131 248 2637 Alternatively you can email us at enquiries@serconltd.co.uk Or visit our website www.serconpeople.co.uk


Recruitment and Employment Confederation feature

serious about standards Kevin Green: Chief Executive

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Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation special feature by Gordon Smith

dmittedly, it may lack the allure of the launch of the latest iPhone or Playstation 3, but ploughing hard through the recession is the United Kingdom’s recruitment industry, now valued at £27bn a year: above that of even the electronics business. Despite its colossal contributions to the country’s economy, all too often it is a sector that is not going to instantly win the limelight, and often needs to fight to be heard. This battle is being fought – and regularly won – by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the United Kingdom’s largest trade organisation for the recruitment industry. Chief Executive Kevin Green explains: “Lobbying is hugely important to us. A crucial element of what we do is getting the government and other stakeholders to understand the significance of what is now a £27bn industry. If nothing else we create a huge amount of GDP. The REC is the voice of the industry and lets people know how considerable we are, what we then can do is use that voice to influence issues that can arise.” Such clout is only created when built upon a strong foundation, as Kevin explains: “At the heart of the REC is our standards agenda. We want to try and encourage businesses to join the organisation, so clearly we want to make 44

it as straightforward as possible, but at the same time ensuring every new member adheres to our standards.” Upon joining the organisation, members must sign up to the REC’s Code of Professional Practice, a binding agreement that ensures members adhere to the highest principles of ethics, integrity and equity. As Kevin states, such robust criterion are not easy to achieve, but it does pay dividends: “For the smaller businesses, the ability to display the REC badge allows them to differentiate themselves from the rest, and shows they are credible, and signed up to follow certain standards.” The benefits for those that do become members of the REC are tangible, “We offer a wide range of assistance, including a free legal helpline, in addition to our four inhouse solicitors who are experts in the field. It is immensely important to us to not only provide general advice to our members, but also sector-specific guidance, whether that be construction, oil and gas or office support.” Kevin openly admits that one of the single largest challenges the organisation face at the current time is the looming implementation of the Agency Workers Directive (AWD). “As far as I am concerned, some years ago, a Labour government would have taken the trade unions


Recruitment and Employment Confederation feature

“We do not feel it is right to introduce the AWD during a period of deep recession, this will stifle job creation, making it that bit harder for employers to recruit people.” word hook, line and sinker, being unaware of the value we create in terms of jobs creation, helping people into employment. It has been a hard slog, but we have got them [the government] to a place whereby they understand the industry and the value we create.” Since it was proposed a decade ago, the REC has fought against the premature introduction of the AWD. Kevin states, “I think we have put up a fantastic campaign, and – with the support of the government – have kept it at arms distance for ten years. One of the things we have learnt from lobbying is if you wait for government to consult, and publish draft regulations, to a large extent the battle is already lost, as the public are not going to fundamentally change their position. It is imperative to get in early to influence the agenda.” “What we also seek to do is not only speak on behalf of recruitment organisations, but also to align others within the industries. In terms of the AWD, when we published our initial report into the subject in February 2009, we received endorsement from the British Chamber of Commerce, the CBI, the Professional Contractors Group, and effectively built a coalition of employers, employment lawyers, and recruitment businesses, all saying that when government implements the AWD, there are a range of issues that they need to be aware of.” Although headquartered seconds from Oxford Street, the REC cannot be accused of being London-centric,

with the confederation having a visible presence in the nations and regions, with policy forums in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Chief Executive Kevin is a strong believer that it is imperative to allow members to get their voice heard at a local and regional level: “We’ve run three national summits so far, all of those have taken place in London. However, with the publication of the AWD report due in the beginning of October, what we want to do is take the message to all parts of the UK, and give our members and employers the opportunity to get an update on where we are, hopefully we will have the draft regulations to talk through, allowing us to identify the issues, and discuss what is still up for grabs. “The summits also allow us to start to prepare people. Although we are asking for the AWD not to be implemented until the end of 2011, there is still the possibility that it will be with us in 2010. It will take some time for employers, and agencies to bring in the system, and agree on how they will pass the information from one to another. Undoubtedly there is an issue on how much time we have to prepare our members.” “We do not feel it is right to introduce the AWD during a period of deep recession, this will stifle job creation, making it that bit harder for employers to recruit people. Why rush it through? Why make it any earlier than 2011?” “Temporary workers are vital for employers to manage 45


Recruitment and Employment Confederation feature

“ for god’s sake don’t introduce that right now, let’s leave that until the last possible moment, as not to stifle job creation.” the peaks and troughs of their workload, and to a large extent, the losses we seen earlier in the year is the model working in practice. If you do not have any work, then you terminate the contracts of your temporary workers before you need to get rid of your permanent staff. An efficient organisation needs to be able to hire people and fire people easily to match its workload, and companies often think very carefully when taking on permanent staff when you have a fluctuating workload. Quite often a business, if they couldn’t take on temporary people, wouldn’t take people on at all, and very often they will try to do it through overtime or moving people around. I believe one of the reasons our unemployment rate – despite being at 7.9 percent – is lower than Germany, France, and certainly Italy or Spain, is because we have a flexible labour market. If we didn’t have flexible working, our unemployment would be at 10, if not 11 percent. In brief, temporary work creates employment – that is the point.” Aside from the headache provided by the AWD, Kevin has some other real concerns for the state of UK Plc: “We’ve got an aging workforce, combined with huge skills and talent shortages which are being masked at the moment by the economic situation. As soon as we get some demand back in the economy, I suspect we will have to be looking at immigration again and potentially from outwith the European borders.” “A further worry of ours is the fact that of the 2.4 million unemployed, nearly one million of them are under 24. There must be a renewed focus on internships and apprentice schemes, with any kind of funding stimulus for getting young people into employment to be welcomed. We have educated all of these people to A-level and often graduate level, now we need to get them into work. The longer people are left out of the labour market, the harder it is for them to re-enter.” 46

Despite the economic climate, Kevins says his in-tray is not entirely gloomy. In August 2009, the REC published their latest data showing that for the first time in 17 months, the organisation’s members had recruited more permanent staff than the month before. This trend was echoed by the figures from the temporary sector, where more staff had been recruited than the previous month for the first time since July 2008. Kevin states, “These are still the very early days and it by no means shows a fundamental shift, but what it does illustrate is that employers are beginning to hire again, and this is a positive sign. We have had 17 months of negative indicators, so when we get a positive one, you want to promote it, as confidence is essential.” “What we must remember is that unemployment as a measure lags nine to twelve months behind the economy. What we are saying is that at the front end, people are starting to employ again, but don’t expect there to be a huge impact on unemployment in the short term – it is likely to get worse before it gets better.” “The fiscal stimulus appears to have worked at a macro level, what we want to see is continued pressure on the banks to continue to lend to small and medium sized businesses. From a legislative point of view, it is all about the AWD, for god’s sake don’t introduce that right now, lets leave that until the last possible moment, as not to stifle job creation.” Amid the chaos of the past 18 months on the economy, on a personal level Kevin is proud of his achievements to date within the REC: “At the end of this financial year, despite the market being very tough, we will have had a net increase in members of over 200. Quite simply, those in the recruitment sector value the service we offer and recognise that we have created a voice that is being listened to at a national level.”


the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

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ercon People have been trading since January 2009 and although “new kids on the block” have grown, both in resources and reputation, faster than expected. “We recently opened our second branch in the network in Edinburgh sourcing prime office space in Morrison Street. From our locations in Glasgow and Edinburgh we are now able to cover all requirements within Scotland.” The next evolution for the business is a 3rd branch opening in London on 4th January 2010, no mean feat for a company borne and raised in a recession. “We are in the process of viewing properties and expect to sign the contract this month for a small property in Pall Mall, incidentally not far from the location James Caan opened up his first branch of Alexander Mann.” Our new London office will supply mainly office support and Executive and Management staff however the core business of industrial temps will be maintained as main revenue stream throughout our entire business. We purposefully chose this London locale as we want to be seen as a competitive force in the industry and not as a tiny start-up moving into a new and highly competitive marketplace. We’re looking forward to the challenge of taking on the London market – there have been many people in the industry who have been surprised at the decisions we’ve made, not only to open a new employment business when unemployment in Britain has been at its highest, but also taking seemingly bold chances. But after reading James Caan’s autobiography, one piece of advice stuck – and surprisingly it came from James’ father – not

James himself. “Observe the masses and do the opposite.” We’ve been fortunate that through hard work, long days and nights and never giving up with our clients and prospects we’ve been able to build a strong brand and profitable business. To ensure we maintain our brand identity and the excellent reputation we’ve developed we regularly take part in external training for the senior management team and the sales staff and will be looking into gaining further accreditations to go alongside our ISO9001 including REC Professional Membership. Despite the recession, Sercon People has shown growth month on month since inception. This is down not only to a strong marketing and sales activity plan, but also down to a solid support function; from our Director and Finance Director to our payroll staff to our highly experienced Sales Consultants at branch level. Future plans for Sercon People are nothing short of industry domination. Our intention is to keep searching for the best and most talented recruitment consultants in the industry and to grow our existing teams and also to grow our geographical reach as we identify skilled consultants throughout the country. Another major investment we’ve made is the development of our new website www.serconpeople.co.uk - the first draft of the new site went live last week and is already receiving impressive visitor numbers. We aim to make the site an industry leader in the online recruitment world, and where this might not happen overnight – it will happen soon.

good people wanted...

“Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.” Chris Dodds talks through the aspirations of Sercon People. 48


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the hirer Inspiring Entrepreneurs Promoting Business

The final word

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o like apparently the increasing popularity of social networking sites, emailing and texting is leading to anxiety, reduced productivity and a generation of Blackberry orphans. Reahhlly? Experts explain that our obsession with data and information from a never-ending, constantly expanding number of sources is so great, that it could even be damaging our health. I don’t know about that... Now I’ve come over all Katie Price and covered my Blackberry in pink Swarovskis, it gives me a surge of almost maternal pride when I glance down at it. And I can’t even remember life before crackbook! Professor Nada Kakabadse, from Northampton University, recently reported, that out of a sample number of everyday volunteers, one third suffered from technological addiction. “They are addicted to their gadgets – phones, Blackberries, laptops. It is a problem. It has negative consequences on their family life, their health and their social life.” Well okay. So maybe I’d rather sleep with my Blackberry instead of Tarquin. (It certainly vibrates a bit more thrillingly). And alright... so I moved Chi-Chi out from his chaise longue under the desk to fit in a few more adapters and extension cables. But it’s only to quadruple the speed of my broadband! Admittedly, I do get a bit fed-up when my beauty sleep gets interrupted every eight minutes by a facebook update. But when I get poked, well... it makes a girl feel that bit more popular. Professor Kakabadse also said that at work, we can be interrupted from our primary task by a pop-up alerting us to an email. So we end up stopping what we are doing to read the message. That then directs us elsewhere, perhaps to another link on the internet. We may then check other emails stacked up behind the new one. A quick look on Facebook, Twitter or something else,

and it may be half an hour before we’re back to that primary task! Nightmare. It happened to me the other day at work. I was totally engrossed in the HFR Market Microstructure Hedge Fund Industry Report for the second quarter of 2009. Then two clicks later I was equally engrossed in an advert for a Manolo Blanik sample sale. Professor Kakabadse said, “You cannot any more do effectively the task you were originally doing, even if it was routine. You will suddenly feel low energy, you become clumsy and you have a spatial disorder. You become exhausted,” she said. She’s right, I was totally spatially absorbed. Was my foot going to be too wide for the size 5 Manolos?! I was positively dizzy with stress. The US firm AOL recently conducted a survey of 4,000 email users in America, 46% described themselves as being ‘hooked’ on email. Nearly 60% had checked email in the bathroom, (ditto, last night to see if Chels really was serious about getting back with Harry), with 15% checking it in church, (does Selfridges count as a place of worship?), and 11% had hidden the fact that they were checking it from those around them, (Tarquin has no idea I’ve got a profile on sugardaddie.com). Apparently, it has, somewhat depressingly, given rise to the phenomenon of BlackBerry orphans – children who desperately fight to regain their parents’ attention from the devices. Personally, I don’t think there is anything unhealthy about that. At Roedean I only saw mummy twice between the ages of twelve and seventeen. I think I agree with Einstein. It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. In fact, that sounds so like 'deep' that I’m going to post it as my facebook status. My five thousand, seven hundred and forty four friends will be totally impressed.

tales of a recessionista 52

Josie Smith details the recession musings of Tamara Pemberton-Piggot. Tamara has a business Blackberry, a personal mobile and a pager for her therapist. She recently discovered how to turn off the red light on her Blackberry and described the breakthrough as ‘life-changing’.


The Hirer Magazine Issue 5  

James Caan; Sound Business, Shaf Rasul, Feargal Sharkey, Cathal McAteer, Kevin Green; Recruitment and Employment Confederation REC

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