Roll forward to 2023, and Co-founders Richard Collins and Nick White, who set out to ‘do recruitment differently’ now find themselves running a hugely successful recruitment business, with satellite offices across the country, a global client base, and launching a new investment portfolio that will support start-up recruitment businesses to launch and thrive over the next few years.
Keen to tap into the secrets of their success, I met with Richard and Nick to find out the valuable lessons that they have learned along the way, and hear to hear the milestones that stand out to both Directors along their journey so far…
“The first hurdle after we formed the business in 2015,” muses Nick, “was taking on our first recruitment consultants – that felt like a huge responsibility. It is a huge responsibility to this day”.
By 2016, Richard and Nick were successfully carving out their sector networks and the pair soon recognised that to grow the business further, they would need to invest in expanding their teams.
Richard got in touch with a long-term colleague, Andrew Pyman – who declared at the time 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 in the City of London.
The new 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 and someone with solid experience within the recruitment industry. 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 focused on growing the business further, creating space for more new team members, and ensuring that their training plans equipped their teams 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 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.
“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.” – 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 learned 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, like many businesses, IEG 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 whole 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 Manchester 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 far this year the business has been able to make significant contributions to Royal Society for Blind Children, Brain Research UK and Lymphoma Action – charities all chosen by our teams.
So what do Richard and Nick attribute this success to?
“We’ve kept our feet on the ground, we aim to never stop evolving, and we have learned to surround ourselves with good people! And never assume that because you’re great at recruiting for your clients, that you’re an expert at recruiting for yourself, that was a big lesson.” 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, who are now in a position to invest time, knowledge, and money into new start-up recruitment businesses, proves that the team at IEG have coined something special.
Both Richard and Nick are keen to share the lessons that they have learned along the way in launching and sustaining a successful recruitment business. If you are thinking about setting up an agency of your own and would like some independent advice, please do get in touch with either of our Co-founders directly for a confidential discussion. They would love to hear from you.