As we progress early into our 10th year, someone in the team suggested that, in keeping with the times, a virtual interview of our boss might be a great idea! The one-time only opportunity to quiz Richard about literally anything proved to be an interesting Q&A session comprising both the frivolous and the serious. Here is how it went….
Lyn Rosales – Question: Which Super Power would you like to have and why?
Richard: Without wishing to be greedy, I have two. When I was a young, I was probably the only kid to loath cold, wintry weather and I often fantasized about possessing “laser eyes with heat-rays” to instantly melt the snow. But, if choosing only one, it would have to be ‘teleportation’; influenced no doubt by a diet of the original Star Trek series, rather than The Fly (!), the idea of instantly travelling anywhere at anytime on command remains highly attractive. Furthermore, during these Covid-times, it would be a very practical power to possess too.
Lyn – Question: If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?
Richard: Quite a few years ago, I was described as “complex” by a close colleague. For that reason, if he was living, I would probably pick Alec Guinness given his incredibly versatile range. As he is not, I would instead select Hugh Grant. Whilst his range is limited, his consummate ability to portray self-conscious bashfulness with touches of humour and wit would seem to fit very well.
Janet Belen – Question: What is your biggest hurdle in recruitment?
Richard: Over the last 25 years, I honestly feel that I have had very few personal hurdles managing the end-to-end of Search assignments. However, clients expecting us to find ‘unicorns’ that simply do not exist and who are unprepared to compromise or accept our advice, do represent unsurpassable hurdles!
Janet – Question: Which industry/function/market do you think will most rely on recruitment services in the next 5 to 7 years? Which industry/market/function will be less reliant?
Richard: This is a complicated, crystal ball-gazing question. What is clear is that whilst currently imperfect, advances in AI, video-interview and other online automated technology will massively ‘support’ recruitment processes and create efficiency, particularly for sectors and functions requiring mass hiring of the same set of skills. Whilst some peers within the recruitment ecosystem see this a threat (one that has been looming for at least a decade now), the fact is that ‘supporting’ recruitment process is very different from fully replacing it and managing the most critical interfaces for more senior, pivotal positions within an organization requires a human touch (software AI is less likely to attract and induce engagement of high-potential passive candidates relative to an experienced head-hunter who knows how to press the right buttons). Processing of data is one thing but managing ‘confidential’ and/or business-critical mid- to senior-management appointments will require a human touch for quite some time to come and this is valid across most industries and functions.
New-tech has already begun to be embraced within mature markets but it might still be some time before the emerging markets are ready. Moreover, due to shallow skills pools, these are the same markets often requiring a high-touch capability of recruitment services companies to support the end-to-end of hiring processes at all levels.
Mass hiring of replicable positions within manufacturing, certain banking/financial services functions (customer service, relationship managers, data processors) and back-end IT (which tend to be skills-based hires) will probably disappear from the average recruiters’ desk.
Given market trends and ‘war for talent’ as well as lingering concerns over Covid, an increasing reliance on recruitment services is likely to include the pharma/healthcare sector, of course. Also FinTech, E-commerce and Logistics sectors, whilst functions within data engineering and analytics, full stack engineering, cybersecurity, robotics, revenue management and hi-tech, high-IP engineering / R&D, Board, C-level and Middle-Management (sales, marketing, customer success, investor relations) positions will all require the finesse of our profession too. Smart cars, smart buildings, smart cities…clearly ‘smart’ is the way forward and recruitment firms will need to be smart about servicing those requirements too.
Catherine Jose – Question: If you are not a recruiter, what career would you have chosen?
Richard: As a kid, I fancied becoming a teacher (but, ultimately, I couldn’t imagine exchanging knowledge with 25-30 unruly kids) and a journalist (a notion put to rest following work experience at my local ‘rag’ and where it became clear that chain-smoking habits and ‘cat stuck in tree’ news stories were simultaneously life-threatening and dispiriting). I had an opportunity to pursue a sporting career (cricket) but in the end I decided that a proper education and a ‘White Collar’ career was advisable. But, to answer the question, my alternative to recruitment would probably be advertising. I’ve always had a way with words and enjoy weaving stories, crafting straplines and applying creative juice to make the humdrum seem like a million dollars!
Catherine – Question: When working from home, are you wearing trousers? Or Shorts?
Richard: Wouldn’t you like to know!!? Hmm. Well, living in a tropical climate lends itself to shorts and, apparently, I have the legs to pull off the look.
Antoine Gatignol - Question: Who is your role model and why?
Richard: Geoffrey Boycott (a supremely successful professional cricketer from the mid-60’s to late 80’s). I wince, now, as he was also deeply flawed. But as a kid, I appreciated his tenacious talent and the huge single-handed impact he would often make with monumental focus, determination and dedication. His personal performance was often a critical determinant of team success and failure.
Antoine – Question: What is the one thing you would have done differently at work in Alphasearch?
Richard: With the benefit of hindsight, I would have established the business with a remote working concept from the outset. Although the entire operation was a web-enabled, remote-access, 24x7 operation, remote working was embraced only around 5-6 years ago. This was well-ahead of the curve relative to most companies and allowed for ‘business as usual’ during the pandemic, however, the delay correlated to needlessly feeding landlords with high office rentals.