Interview with Adam Vipond - Head of Client Delivery UK FinTech
After 9 years with the company, Adam Vipond has successfully worked his way up from a Recruitment Consultant to the position of Head of Client Delivery for UK FinTech. We spoke to Adam to find out how he did it, and what advice he would give to any budding consultant wishing to follow in his footsteps.
What was your very first job after leaving education, and what was it like?
I spent 9 months at a marine engineering company doing AutoCAD design for boat parts. After that I went on to Liverpool Victoria, where I was processing inbound calls about car insurance, which I did mainly to save up to go travelling. After a year at LV, I went travelling to New York, Vancouver, Hawaii, Fiji, Indonesia and the East Coast of Australia. When I came back I worked at a telemarketing lead generation company. There I was taught how to generate leads and how to profile businesses, something which has come in useful in my recruitment career. I ended up leaving because it wasn’t commission based, I wanted something where I could see the rewards for a job well done.
How did you get into recruitment? Why?
I got into recruitment by chance, I had an email from an agency promising £45-£100k commission, which I wasn’t sure if I believed but came to the interview anyway. I interviewed with Marcus (Graziano) and Lee (Barnett) and ended up getting the job. I initially liked the idea of making commission and being rewarded for a job well done, which was my biggest incentive at the time. I also liked the idea of being in charge of my own deals and being responsible for closing them.
What did you think about recruitment when you first started at Caspian One?
I was unsure to begin with, and definitely had some regrets after starting. I’d been in my comfort zone at the previous role, and knew that I was good at the job. Initially it was a struggle to get past the many variables that can go wrong in recruitment, I must have had five placements all drop out in my first year which was difficult to deal with. I also had to learn that recruitment can be a rollercoaster, one week can be really successful and the next not so good. My opinion changed as I got more experienced and learnt to roll with the punches.
Talk me through your career with Caspian One.
There wasn’t a clear route for progression when I first started because the company was only made up of seven people. To be honest at that stage in my career I wasn’t focussing on the career progression, but was more incentivised by earning money and getting a nice car! It was a much smaller company but the incentives were still there like today, like trips to Barcelona, which were great motivators.
My role in particular hasn’t changed that dramatically, I am still very much people focussed, whether that be candidates, clients or my team. At the end of the day, we have problems to find solutions for, whether that be finding the best candidate for the job or training the team. The team is now really solid and full of technical and intelligent people, and we’re all working in the same direction.
What personal challenges did you overcome when moving up through the company?
There’s always lots of plates being spun in this job, but my job is to turn problems into solutions. Sometimes the further away from the problem you are, the easier it looks to solve, so making sure to be objective and come to a solution rather than focussing on the problem was a challenge. Now we’ve got a larger team with different skills and experience it’s easier for everyone to learn from each other. The other challenge would be to not forget the basics, making sure to ask the right questions! It sounds pretty simple but it can be easy to forget to do so. The market can also be difficult, at the moment demand is high and there’s a lack of skills to fill the roles, which means we have to work ten times harder to find the right candidates.
What do you look for when hiring a recruitment consultant - not taking into account experience?
Traditionally extroverts are seen as having more potential for recruitment, however I find that a mix of the extroverts and introverts in our team is working really well for us. Introverts tend to be highly analytical which means they can spot opportunities otherwise missed. Also, the ability to converse with candidates and clients and understand the industry and its technologies is hugely important.
I think having a strong backbone is key, as well as being patient, the job can be difficult with many different things going wrong, so it’s important to be able to look at the positives and withstand the downsides. Being personable is really important. Everyone knows that we have a job to do, but I’m pleased to call some of my clients and candidates friends. So a willingness to get along with people is something else I look for when hiring.
What is your top tip for succeeding in recruitment?
Put the hours in. Especially at the beginning. I remember having roles released at 5-6pm on a Friday and staying to work on them (normally with a pizza provided!) It’s not something that would happen all the time, but when it did it was important to put the time in. I think it changes as you progress with your career, but definitely something to keep in mind.
As well as this, I’d say remembering to look at candidates as potential clients. Sometimes a potential candidate isn’t looking to move, but they could have their own hiring needs. Not dismissing candidates who don’t want a new job now, or who don’t fit the particular role you’re recruiting for. Talking to them, and asking the right questions to get the information you need is important as well.
What are your three favourite tools for recruiting and why?
The phone, the calendar, network maps. Recruitment involves a degree of intuition and it’s difficult to use intuition on text, email or the written word. The spoken word is the purest form of communication and it means you know exactly the way things were intended.
What's the mistake that every new recruiter makes?
Being overly transaction focussed or not building relationships. If you don’t speak to the candidate properly you can end up sending them to the wrong jobs, so if you need to, ask for help from those around you. Feedback is really important, sometimes a candidate can interview badly, but realising that might just mean the job wasn’t for them means you can work with them and find a job better suited to them, one that they prepare for and really want.
What has been your biggest achievement to date? Why?
If you’d have asked me three years ago, I would have said the car and the house! Now though, I’m really happy with the team. The further you develop and collaborate successfully with others, the more it becomes about how they are succeeding. Seeing someone in your teams life change because of their success is an amazing feeling.
What is your best candidate story, and why?
I placed someone at a major client back in 2008, who was an exceptional candidate. He was already at a VP level but we did lots of preparation in advance of the interview anyway. He was pretty confident going in and ended up smashing the interview and being offered the role. The position at that time was managing fourteen people. I caught up with him six months ago and found out he’s now two levels down from the top of the tree and in charge of over two hundred people. It’s amazing when you see a candidate succeed like that, even if they were a solid candidate anyway!
What does Caspian One do well?
Understanding people. It’s one of the main things Marcus and Lee taught me, we’re not just in the numbers game, and we chase the right people for the right jobs, not the money. We’re also a warm company, with good values and a lot of skill in the teams.
If you could change one thing about Caspian One, what would it be?
I’d probably say I’d run it!