With 22 years of experience in STEM-based recruitment across the UK, Belgium, France and Germany, Jonathan is Founder of Adeptis Group and Palling & Co., Board Advisor of Optimus Search and ScreenPages Ltd, and now a father of two living in West Sussex. We sat down (virtually) with him to discuss his journey from Resourcer to CEO and the lessons he has learnt along the way.
How did you start off your career?
I started off as a Contracts Resourcer back in February 1998 for SThree on the international desk in London and from there worked hard, stayed focused and worked my way up to Senior Partner and Managing Director of a UK-based PLC. When I first joined recruitment, it was a rapidly growing sector in sales, so I was fortunate enough to have joined a well-run business that was expanding its overseas operations, giving me the opportunity to use my fluent French. Those were the days of paper-based advertising, bulk terminals, roller decks, tippex and fax shots!
What was it about Recruitment that kept you in the industry for so long?
I liked the fast-paced, high-energy and competitive nature of the job and liked working on a lively sales floor. Having joined a privately-owned, UK-centric IT recruitment business that went through an IPO and subsequently became a truly global STEM-based recruitment PLC, I learnt a great deal about sales, management, leadership, strategy, diversification.
Why did you decide to go solo and set up Adeptis Group?
I was fortunate to have great career opportunities that allowed me to financially set up my own business, which was something I had always wanted to do. I saw a gap in the market for a specialist international Cyber Security offering, so in 2015 I decided to test myself and make the jump from the security of a huge global company- I have no regrets!
What has running your own business taught you?
It has been the steepest learning curve I have ever experienced and there is no substitute for experience. There is a huge difference between running a P&L and managing cashflow, having strategic oversight of all aspects of the business, including IT, HR, marketing, training, facilities management, as well as hiring and sales. There is no room for playing party politics. But it is a very rewarding and liberating experience with lots of freedom. The ability to influence the direction of the business, as opposed to the bureaucracy of working for a big corporate, is something I really enjoy.
How important are the people around you in a start-up business?
Ultimately you are only as good as your people, and great businesses succeed because of the collective achievements rather than individual brilliance. In a big business, there is already an established culture so you walk into it and just have to fit in, whereas in a start-up the culture is defined by you and your first three or four hires, so it’s critical to get it right. I am lucky to be able to work with a team that I like, respect and consider to be part of the Adeptis family.
How did Palling &aCo. come about?
Palling and Co. grew organically from Adeptis clients looking to change jobs and wanting a trusted partner for executive search assignments, so we decided to launch as a premium offering of Adeptis, focusing on the C-suite in Cyber Risk and Forensics rather than the mid-tier market.