Insight Executive Group Reflects on Eight Milestones to Celebrate our Eighth Anniversary
You read that correctly; it was eight years ago, back in 2015, that IEG’s Co-founders Richard Collins and Nick White took the brave step to leave the safe comforts of large corporate recruitment organisations, to launch their vision to “do recruitment differently”.
With 60% of small businesses failing in their first two years – a statistic which rises drastically when looking at the first five years – what is the magic ingredient has Insight Executive Group developed to grow consistently while building a reputation for being a team of solid and honest search specialists?
Richard and Nick met in 2014 when they both were working for a well-known global recruitment firm, Richard working on the Procurement team, Nick on the Facilities Management desk.
“My first impression of Rich,” muses Nick, “was he was a likeable, bright, and focused individual. And fun, really good fun – also someone that walked very quickly everywhere!”. Their divisions happened to work next door to each other, and Richard would often approach Nick to offer useful client leads for his team.
This collaborative way of working between departments wasn’t prioritised in their roles at the time, in fact, much like many large recruitment firms, the emphasis was strictly on pushing KPIS – “calls, calls, calls, and repeat” – but Richard and Nick slowly developed a new way of working, building on synergies within their networks, and referrals from people they trust. This way of working would soon form the bedrock upon which IEG was built.
“We wanted to take all the working practices from our recruitment past that we thought worked well and leave the pushy salespeople training we didn’t enjoy behind us,” reflects Richard.
Therefore, at IEG’s launch strict KPI expectations were binned, along with stale cold calling sales scripts, in favour of a more tailored, consultative, personal and flexible approach. Having tested the concept of this new way of working amongst their respective networks, Richard and Nick gained confidence in their vision, and IEG leased their first tiny (but full of potential) office in Central London, hiring their first Operations Lead.
The IEG brand was officially born!
From that point onwards, the company has consistently grown on average 30% year-on-year, expanding reach within its niche markets, and gaining places on high-profile frameworks and significant PSLs. IEG can also boast an immaculate track record in achieving maximum audit scores and being shortlisted for numerous industry awards along the way – just some of the accolades that are a testament to the market-leading support that IEG provides to its clients and candidates every day.
I met with Richard and Nick to find out about the milestone moments that stand out for the two Co-founders of Insight Executive Group when they look back over the past eight years and to tap into the valuable lessons that they have learned along the way.
The first milestone that immediately stands out for both directors, after launching the business, was in 2016. Both Richard and Nick felt that IEG was in a good position to take on more senior recruitment consultants. Richard got in touch with a long-term colleague, Andrew Pyman – who declared that he had fallen utterly out of love with recruitment – until he joined IEG! Meanwhile, Nick set to work headhunting well-renowned FM recruitment professional, Rob Parker, to bolster his team,
“To have two experienced consultants who held the same values that we did and believed in us enough to join our brand-new company, felt like a significant move forward and a match made in heaven,” comments Nick.
So significant in fact, that the newly formed team decided it was time to upgrade their office, with a move to the prestigious Kings Street to a five-person office (and low ceiling that 6’ 7” Mr. Parker was willing to contend with for the time being!)
As the new team flourished, so did many careers for people within IEG’s expanding network, built and made possible on the founding principles of referrals, forming genuine relationships and expert knowledge within each niche.
The team developed grand plans for 2017, with the aim of bringing seven new consultants into the business over the year. For such significant growth to the two-year-old company, Richard and Nick sought to first source a board-level director; someone who has previously supported new organisations to grow, someone with solid experience within the recruitment industry, and most importantly, someone who was able to confidently guide and steer the team of four bold recruitment personalities… Enter IEG’s next significant milestone – the appointment of Sue Cooper, of Scoop Consultancy, who could see the genuine passion in the small IEG team to deliver a brilliant service while embracing genuine family values.
“Richard and Nick are two very different characters who dovetail perfectly. What brings them together is their appetite for doing things in a novel fashion as exceptional entrepreneurs, as well as their ability to bring the values that they have built their lives upon into a business setting.
Working with them continues to be a real privilege.” – Sue Cooper
For two and a half years, the newly established Senior Leadership Team grew the business as planned and felt confident they were building a team with the knowledge required to navigate the constant movements of their markets. When the global pandemic in 2020 unfolded, like many businesses, IEG quickly moved to a home working model. The leadership team was able to guide their teams to quickly respond to the drastic changes within their markets and the urgent requirements of NHS and Healthcare clients to place niche roles immediately. These roles were pivotal in looking after COVID patients, and key in the race to fight the effects of the virus.
It was at this time that Nick and Richard felt most responsible for the people in their employment at IEG and were adamant to keep as close to 100% of the people in the business in paid work as possible against the challenges and changes for many sectors.
The strength of the foundations they had built, meant that IEG was able to adapt to the changing demands of their markets, and the Senior Management Team worked closely to the reassess the direction of the business.
“We’d always been keen for our business to be an agile one and had made efforts for all systems to work no matter where you were in the world; this meant we were well prepared to fulfil vital placements at pace during the pandemic. Covid put all businesses to the test, but the whole team adapted incredibly well. From our virtual office spaces we maintained a strong team culture and managed to quickly support hundreds of requirements within NHS and Healthcare” – Richard Collins.
It was at this point too, that Richard and Nick made a key decision to stop pushing to grow the business simply for growth’s sake, and instead revisited the values and principles that the company was founded upon.
“The biggest lesson I have learnt is to be selective and stringent about who you bring on board. Trust the principles that you founded the company upon, and the process will flow from there. Don’t change everything to try and attract a higher volume of staff, be patient and the right people will become available and crucially, they’ll want to join you!” – Richard Collins.
Once IEG implemented their new recruitment strategy, the quality of their work took a massive step forward “I think this is the moment I felt the business go from successful to highly successful,” Richard adds.
Over the course of 2021 we moved to a hybrid model, a blend of home and office working. As the company had grown, it had the need for more office space. So, at the start of 2022, Rob Parker proudly opened the company’s second office in Cheltenham – another landmark moment which was cemented when the business held its end-of-year review at its Gloucestershire base, Eagle Tower.
“I will never forget walking into that room and seeing the sea of faces looking back at us. While it has always been our ambition to grow the business significantly, seeing the actual size and scale we had reached was humbling.” – Nick White.
2023 sees yet more plans for growth at IEG, not only within our London, Cheltenham and remote office locations, but in terms of territories that we have been expanding into nationally and internationally.
Records continue to be smashed where it counts, with this year seeing our largest ‘High Achievers’ holiday event of all time, with record numbers of consultants being treated to an all-expenses paid skiing trip to Austria.
As a group, we’re proud to keep giving back where we can too, with the charitable cash donations growing as the business grows and reaching charities chosen by our staff.
So what do Nick and Richard attribute this success to?
“We’ve kept our feet on the ground, we aim to never stop learning and, one of my biggest learnings is surround yourself with good people! Oh, and never assume that because you’re great at recruiting for your clients, that you’re an expert at recruiting throughout all sectors of recruitment,” says Nick.
“We have stuck to our recruitment principles and values as the business has grown. We take time to select the right people to add to our teams, and as we grow our networks, we remain focused on the markets we know well and continue to work in ways that we all enjoy,” concludes Richard.
To expand from a three-person set-up in a broom cupboard office in 2015, to a multi-office organisation, embracing hybrid working that enables national and international coverage, proves that the team at IEG have coined something special.
Watch this space as our team continue to develop and break records as we move closer to celebrating our ten-year anniversary!