Is stepping out of your comfort zone all it’s cracked up to be?

James Davies joined Talent as Regional Director of the Manchester office in October 2018. But, by his own admission, the move came as something of a surprise to him. He explains what made Talent an opportunity he couldn’t turn down…

 If you’d have said to me this time last year that I’d have ‘Talent’ next to my name 12 months later, I wouldn’t have believed you. I know it’s something of a cliché to say that, but I was extremely comfortable at my previous tech recruitment company, having spent eight great years there, and I had no appetite to move.

But Talent is one of those names in the industry you can’t ignore. The global growth they’ve achieved over the past few years has been remarkable. On top of that, Talent’s built a name for itself for being more than just a recruiter, through programmes such as Talent RISE and Unleashed.

It was Talent’s EMEA CEO, Jonathan Butterfield, who convinced me to step out of my comfort zone. During our initial conversation, I began to understand the vision of the company – it was one that married with my own image of how to grow a business and its people.


Taking a left turn

 Talent is a blank sheet of paper – I can make it what I want it to be. On stepping through the doors of the Manchester office, I knew that it wasn’t simply a case of taking the wheel and continuing to point the ship in the same direction – we’re charting a course for new waters.

The plan is to treble the size of our existing Manchester based team over the next 18 months, after years of solid success but little in the way of growth. We’re already well on our way to achieving that, having increased the team from eight to 15 in just three months.

Before I started at Talent, somebody described it as a ‘Left turn in a good way’ and now I understand what they mean. It’s a dynamic, fast-moving environment where you feel like nothing is impossible and you can drive the change.


Maturing business, growing people

 In the past, when Talent was still trying to make a name for itself in the industry as a start-up, it had to make some key, experienced hires who would bring clients and money into the business. But after a while, these established consultants would move on, once they felt it was ‘job done’. 

As the business has matured, there’s now the capacity to bring in young, highly-motivated, career-driven individuals who want fast personal growth. Crucially, they can see a long-term future for themselves at Talent.

In 12-18 months’ time, I’m aiming for a 60:40 blend of experienced to graduate consultants. Then, I can set to work on developing those graduates to become experts in their field.

At my previous company, I helped several consultants make the progression to a management role – a few of those people even went onto win awards.

My leadership style is geared towards empowering people to fulfil their potential. I work with the team, rather than just tell them what to do. After all, we’re talking about millennials and Gen Z who work best when they’re given greater responsibility.

Doing it differently

One of the first things I changed upon joining the team was the ownership of clients. Instead of consultants solely managing accounts, we tell them that any client in their vertical or geographical patch is theirs.

In turn, we’re creating experts in technology, so the route to market is a lot faster. It also creates a more collaborative culture, in which the team have the opportunity to work together.

Talent inspires you to implement new ideas because it’s not afraid to do things differently to the rest of the recruitment industry. Talent RISE and Unleashed are just two examples of how the company has put corporate social responsibility at its core.

The former is an initiative I’m particularly keen to play a part in as it’s about developing innovative, real world employment programs for young people, which is something I’m very passionate about.

In June, we’ll be taking part in our first charity event to raise money for Talent RISE. The whole team will be involved – but we’re also going to invite our candidates to participate with us. It’s a bit out of the ordinary, but it wouldn’t be Talent if it wasn’t.