Caroline Foote, founder and managing director of Career Moves Group, talks to the Institute of Leadership & Management’s monthly about what makes a successful business and the lessons she’s learnt so far.
1. Can you tell me a bit more about Career Moves Group and when you founded it?
I co-founded Career Moves Group in 1987 with Sheryll Karpel, a university friend. Sheryll was working in recruitment at the time and I worked for the Guardian News and Media, in the sales division. Although the late 80s were times of fast growth it actually proved very difficult to raise the finances for a start-up. So, initially there were four of us who got car loans, and started the business on a shoestring. We started recruiting administration staff mainly for media companies but very quickly we diversified due to our clients finding it challenging to recruit HR, PR and marketing people on brief. So we set up three different divisions that sat alongside the original Career Moves (support and secretarial recruitment) division to cater for the demand.
We currently consist of four specialist teams that focus on delivering top tier talent within: Human Resources, PR and communications, support and secretarial, marketing, broadcast and digital. We work with companies in corporate, professional and financial services, telco, media, fmcg, technology and creative industries.
2. What do you think are the key ingredients of a successful company and one that will stand the test of time?
In order to be successful in business one needs to not only have a good idea, one must also have the passion, drive and dedication to breathe life into the idea to ensure it lives, develops and survives.
The main ingredients for success are our people, so we make sure we go to the ‘n’th degree to recruit, develop and retain the top talent.
One should always make an extra effort when it comes to the clients’ and candidates’ needs. The most successful businesses today are the ones with great customer service that separates them from the rest of the industry and makes them stand out.
Ensure that your business runs on nothing less than perfection. Going for a long run strategy that will make your business stand longer and stronger rather than a short-term strategy that will only help with temporary success.
3. What challenges does your business face and how will you be able to overcome these?
What challenges does your business face and how will you be able to overcome these?
The key challenges in our sector is around the changing nature of how we do business. In-house teams have grown in stature and since the recession organisations are looking to drive their recruitment costs down. However, we are finding that candidates prefer to use an intermediary as they often find that working directly with organisations they get little or no feedback.
Plus those people who don’t have linear, straightforward careers often find they are getting no joy from applying directly, so engage with a recruitment organisation to represent them to plea their case, so to speak.
Reputation and having an ethical approach to how we do business also helps us gain credibility and to be given often unique opportunities to partner with some top brands, so a definite USP for us.
4. What lessons have you learnt in your business career so far?
To be tenacious, a bit cheeky and to keep on learning, things constantly change and it is important to keep evolving and not to become a dinosaur!
5. In three words – what are the key qualities that make an inspirational leader?
Courage, optimism and vision.