My executive search journey

I started my executive search career 16 years ago and traditionally I’ve always focused on HR recruitment. The dictionary definition of recruitment is ‘the process of finding people to work for a company or become a member of an organisation’. Executive search is a specialised recruitment service to seek out and recruit highly qualified candidates for senior-level and executive jobs.

For me, it’s about so much more than that.

Every brief is different and over the last 18 months, there have been a number of external market conditions that have turned everyone’s world upside down, presenting us with the most challenging and bizarre market I have ever encountered.

Someone once told me there is a home for everyone, and it is so true, a person can be brilliant in one company, but not so good in another and that is down to the different Cultures. Culture fit is a phrase that gets banded around all the time and it’s a minefield when trying to get it right. I see lots of blogs and posts talking about culture fit and finding the right person for the right role, but what does it actually mean? In my opinion, you need to really get under the skin of a business and determine what good looks like, what really drives the business and what goals they have long term. You then need to understand the team dynamics, the personalities involved and any gaps they have (tools like insights and the GC index are great for this). This approach enables me to really understand the kind of person that they need and ensure that I can deliver.

After years of recruiting HR roles, I was approached by one of my clients, (CPO, Hospitality Business) who needed to recruit an MD into the business and asked for my help, we had worked together previously in the HR space and got on well, this was the start of my journey into wider executive search. Although I’d never recruited this kind of role before, he was confident in my style “I realised that this is a little outside of their usual sweet spot, but knew that they would hit the mark quickly, and they did.” Taking the brief and hearing what would be needed from someone to be successful in the role, was exciting and got me thinking I wanted to do more of this type of search. I found it really interesting and engaging, so started asking our clients if we could help. You can see more about this case study here.

Since that time, as a business we have placed a number of senior exec roles:

  • Managing Director – UK’s fastest-growing privately-owned hospitality company
  • Director of Customer Experience – Private Equity backed Manufacturing Business
  • Director of Business Services – Multibillion turnover FTSE100
  • IT Director – Engineering business
  • Head of Procurement & Supply Chain – Engineering business
  • Head of Operational Excellence – Global Listed Pharmaceutical business
  • Head of Professional Services – Leading Russell Group University
  • Regional COO – Privately Owned Hotel and Restaurant chain
  • Group Property Director – UK wide retail business
  • Operations Director – Care business
  • Finance Director – Waste management company
  • Head of Change – Large multisite retail business
  • HR Director – B2B wholesale business, 12k employees UK wide
  • Head of Internal Communications – UK Pharmacy Company

I still love our bread-and-butter senior HR roles but enjoy doing a variety of wider executive search and it also helps our clients who like working with us as we understand their business and can move quickly.

Part 2 of Carl’s journey – recruiting senior roles – coming in Feb.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

HR Director career: the next step

Should HR be on the board of Directors and if so, what can you do as an HRD, to take your career to the next level?

According to Korn Ferry, in 2019, fewer than 3% of sitting directors on the boards of Fortune 1000 companies, were current or former HR executives.

Exec boards are increasingly recognising the importance of diverse perspectives. Although board turnover remains slow and HR remains underrepresented in the boardroom, there is growing openness to bringing on different types of expertise.

In my opinion, when boards are discussing culture, values, succession planning and talent management, there really needs to be an experienced HR leader involved to guide that conversation.

On top of that, the pandemic has shone a light on HR, reminding businesses of its importance. Surely, this gives the greatest opportunity for HR leaders to step up? Here are some things you need to consider.

Know your ‘why’

For anyone who hasn’t seen Simon Sinek’s video, I would highly recommend it and I think it helps with this challenge!

Given that people should be an organisation’s most important asset there are huge opportunities for HR to support the CEO with challenges around culture, diversity, and talent.

From a practical point of view, it is important to think about why you want to be on the board, how you might impact the business and what you can bring to the role.

Become an advisor to your CEO and board

You want to be leading the discussion about the organisation’s culture and analysing how it is helping the performance of the business as a whole. Make sure they think of you as a Chief HR Officer.

It is a good idea to look externally too, many senior leaders are well-read in the leadership space, bringing innovative insight and opportunity into the business, will help to raise your profile from a strategic perspective.

Network with board members

You need to find board members you know, or have connections with, and strengthen relationships with them. Directors you’ve worked with and know of your interest in taking on a board seat can help you. Reach out to people to build new relationships in businesses you have identified you’d like to be a part of and get out to events you know the right people will be at.

The more you grow your network, the more inside information you can get and the closer you are to achieving your goal. Most Board Directors are more than willing to offer their time to other new or aspiring Board Directors.

Become an expert

It sounds simple – but a lot of people miss this step out. Make sure you’re clued up on the board selection process and how it all works. Think about what industries are you interested in working in? What sort of companies? Who is involved in their board selection process? This will allow you to get on the radar of the right people, who can recommend you when the position comes up – which links back to networking with the right kind of people.

You can find out more about what makes a great HR professional here.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch at

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Have we lost the work-life balance?

Work-life balance, we talk about it all the time. It’s so important to make sure you have a balance between your work and home life – we’re big advocates of it here. The last year has turned everything upside down and we’ve been at home permanently, so it has made the topic even more important and more widely discussed. Is work-life balance even a ‘thing’ anymore or have we progressed into something more fluid?

There are many factors to be considered when addressing the work-life balance argument – for me, they all centre around technology. Technology has allowed us to change the once rigid working environment – with a set place of work and working hours – to be much more fluid and relaxed. This advancement allows for far greater flexibility, but can add extra challenges for keeping the structure in place between your work and social life.

Remote working

Remote working allows us to work from anywhere, not just in the office. At home, on a train, in another office, even abroad. In most cases, all you need is your laptop and phone and Wi-Fi connection and you’re away. This flexible working allows employees to work in different places, where they may feel happier, more productive or more creative. It means they are able to work while they travel to a social event or go away for some peace and quiet, without taking holiday. Allowing work and life to intertwine can lead to a much happier, healthier and more productive team.


Flexitime gives employees the freedom to choose their hours to fit around their other commitments outside of work. This blurs the lines, but in my opinion in a positive way – you can work around dropping off your kids, having a personal appointment or event meeting friends. You do not need to sacrifice your work or your personal commitments – you still do your hours and get your work done but can also do the things in your personal life that are important.


Mobile phones and laptops are great because you can take them easily wherever you go, to work remotely. But this often comes with its own problems – if you use the same laptop or phone for both personal use and for work, it can be difficult to switch off. Many phones have emails and Slack and other forms of communication for work connected to them, which allows totally switching off from work almost impossible! There are solutions though – whether it’s keeping a separate phone for work or turning off notifications for certain apps, you can still maintain healthy barriers. Turning your phone to ‘do not distrub’ mode at times also helps to switch off – whether it is to concentrate on a project for work or to do something personal, it’s good to have some quiet time to concentrate.

Blurred lines

All these technological factors blur the lines between your work life and your home life. But is it necessarily a bad thing? In my opinion, the freedom and flexibility businesses and employees now have, to work where and when they want, is brilliant. And, although the factors blur the lines so work can creep into your home life, it also means your home life can merge into work-life too – you are able to juggle other responsibilities around work, rather than following a strict 9-5 Monday – Friday in the office. Less need to sacrifice things, including our own health. Having said that, it is still really important to make sure you keep a balance and sometimes – press the off button, to successfully manage stress in the workplace.

If you need some practical tips to help you, here are 6 tips for a better work-life balance.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Achieving business goals

Achieving business goals, whether they’re personal or professional, can be tough. We’ve all got our own personal mountain tops. The goals that we set ourselves that, from the outset, seem nearly impossible to conquer. So how do we overcome this and allow ourselves to reach those goals?

If you haven’t read  ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller, then you absolutely should. The premise is: what is the ‘one thing’ that you need to do that will subsequently make everything else fall into place and become easier? “The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results.”

In the book, Keller talks about breaking down your goals into long and short term, and how by doing this you can turn them into more manageable and less intimidating tasks.

Once you’ve broken them down, you can then consistently go back to that one thing and ask yourself if what you’re about to do is going to add to your progress and keep you on track with achieving business goals.

The process

This process works in two parts. The first is about finding the right direction, and the second part is about chasing the right action.

For the first part, think about the big picture and identify what your overall goal is: what is the one thing that you want to do or achieve. This can be anything from your career goals to a personal ambition that you have.

The second part of this process is more short-term and practical. You have to ask yourself questions that provide you with a small focus on what you can do right now to help you get to where you want. You can break it down into what you’re going to do today, this week and this month to achieve that one thing. By always going back to your one thing, you ensure that everything you are doing is helping you to progress forward with that goal and increases the chances of you achieving it. 

Stay on track

By repeatedly asking yourself these more focused and short-term questions, you will not only keep on target to your overall goal, but you will also find yourself taking actionable steps that all build on one another and provide you with the momentum to finally reach your mountaintop!

Once you break it down, it’s so much easier to achieve those goals.

  1. Define goals
    It’s important to clearly define your business goal, so you know exactly what it is you want to achieve and where you are aiming.
  2. Be specific
    Being specific is important – understand exactly what you are aiming for and why – what will this goal mean for you? It’s a lot easier to stay on track when you know the benefits.
  3. Keep going back to the one thing
    Make sure everything you do is going to helo you reach that goal.
  4. Stay committed and motivated
    Commit to your goals – write them down, share them with colleagues, friends and family so they can hold you to account. Give yourself a deadline to keep you motivated and pushing forward.

Don’t forget to celebrate and reward yourself for achieving those goals or reaching a milestone and share the progress with everyone around you to keep you motivated.

To have a chat about your goals contact me at

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

How to nurture HiPo’s to benefit your business

High potential employees – or HiPo’s – increase the value of a business. They outperform their peers, doing more work and putting in more effort. Most businesses will have recognised that between 3-5% of their staff are high potential employees. There are 3 important attributes for a HiPo who is likely to succeed and get a senior position: aspiration, ability and engagement.  There are many factors that fall into these 3 attributes – leadership abilities, performance, competency and confidence when challenged.

HiPo’s need minimal supervision, are fast learners, reliable, can complete any tasks, work well under pressure and aspire to rise to leadership. They are a huge asset to your business.

So how can you nurture them to fulfil their potential and benefit your business?

Nurturing HiPo’s

The important thing to remember when discussing programs to retain and progress HiPo’s is that these individuals have been identified as having potential. They are not fully-fledged leaders, ready to step into a senior or critical role – yet. They likely will be, but they need developing and nurturing.

Training onsite and offsite, coaching, workshops and seminars can all help in the nurturing process, supporting the individuals to enable them to reach their potential. Real-life situations are really helpful, just be aware that it’s not too much, too soon.

Reducing risk

SHL’s ‘How to Reduce Risk and Realise More Value in Your HiPo Programme’ eBook says:

“Through objective assessment of all three factors (above), you can accurately identify your top talent while ensuring you avoid the most common HiPo programme risks:

  • The risk that they will fail to rise to a senior position
  • The risk that they won’t be effective in a more challenging role
  • The risk that they will leave to join competitors, diluting your bench strength”

Benefits of a successful program

HiPo’s represent a company’s strongest leadership pipeline. Investing in the success of them, means you are investing in the future of the company as a whole, because they will:

  • Deliver strong results
  • Master new types of expertise
  • Have a good attitude and a drive to excel
  • Have the desire to seek new ideas and the ability to convert them into productive action

By identifying, cultivating and investing in employees with exceptional aspirations, rare abilities, and greater engagement, you can ensure that the next generation of leaders within your organisation will be equipped to boost performance, foster innovation, and maximise corporate growth.

What are you doing with your HiPo’s and what successes have you had? If you have stories to share, I’d love to hear them, email me on

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.


Employee onboarding – warm welcome or completely clueless?

We know how important onboarding is for our candidates. The wrong experience can have a hugely detrimental effect on a new starter. The process ensures new employees receive all relevant information and understand how the company works and what is expected of them. This information allows them to transition from a new joiner to a productive team member, and so is a vital process within any organisation. 

So how does it change in a fully remote working world?

Really, it shouldn’t affect the fundamentals:

  • New equipment
  • Communication
  • 121s
  • Introduction to the team
  • Training and coaching

But it does mean being organised and ensuring that everything is prepared way ahead of the new team member starting. Equipment needs to be ordered and sent to their home address, an introduction to the business, the team and regular 121s need to be diarised and the induction needs to be planned out and communicated clearly.

It’s not just about the new starter

It’s not just about the new joiner either, your onboarding process can affect existing team members who will register the way a new employee is treated.

Onboarding begins before the new team member starts – both internally and externally. Calling the new employee is clearly important to let them know the basics, but also letting the existing team members know what is happening.

Returning to work onboarding

My wife, Gemma, wrote a blog about onboarding, with a difference – the importance of onboarding returning maternity leavers. “Yes, they’ve always been employed and aren’t “new’, but when I returned to work after 10 months out, a lot had changed, and I mean a lot. It was almost like returning to a new business. This, coupled with the fear of returning to work, was surely a recipe for disaster.”

Some key points are addressed about being introduced back into the company/role after a substantial period away, including new technology, new faces and new structure. You can read the full blog here.

In any capacity, onboarding is important to your business – it makes for happy employees and better business efficiency, as it gets employees up to speed quickly.

To have a chat about your experiences with onboarding or returning to work you can contact me on

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

Managing stress in the workplace

Managing stress in the workplace

Are you tired? Do you feel irritable? Do you suffer from headaches, muscle tension, and struggle to concentrate at work? If so, you may be one of the millions of people across the country who are feeling the effects of occupational stress. So how can we manage stress in the workplace?

Occupational stress

Occupational stress has many emotional symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, feeling depressed, feeling anxious about going to work, lacking confidence, and experiencing mood swings. Alongside this, many people report physical symptoms such as general aches and pains, feeling nauseous, losing or gaining weight, and pain or tightness in the chest.

According to a 2019 report by Qualtrics, more than a quarter (29%) of UK workers reported that they felt stressed or emotional because of work, either ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for around 44% of all cases of ill health and is estimated to cost the UK £34 billion per year. Worst of all, however, chronic stress has been shown to exacerbate many serious health problems such as mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

It’s very clear that stress is not something that should be brushed away by employers and employees alike, but rather has to be recognised and managed for the benefit of both the individual and the business.

The cause

Occupational stress can be caused by a lot of things. Excessive workloads or unrealistic deadlines are some of the most common, along with difficult relationships with colleagues, disagreements with the management style, being micro-managed, being unclear about what it is that you are meant to be doing, and feeling as though your skills and abilities are being wasted. Stress can be caused by one of them, all of them, or it may be something different. Every person is unique. The important thing is to take some time and think about what is it that is specifically causing these feelings of stress at work.

The approach to managing stress

As many of these causes are due to difficulties imposed upon the employee by the employer and, aside from raising concerns, there is little that the employee to change these causes. What can be changed, is the approach that we take to manage stress in our day to day lives. Try to take a walk during lunch hours to clear your mind for half an hour, work regular hours and take the time off that you are entitled too, make an effort to manage your time both in and outside of work, reflect on your thoughts and feelings often, try to develop relationships in work, and accept that there are some things that you do not have control over.

One of the best treatments for work-related stress is exercise. Aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, dancing, and walking increases the production of endorphins in the brain improving your mood. Exercise also offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the things that have been causing you stress. Many people report that engaging in exercise allows them to think more clearly and find solutions to their problems that they previously could not work through. Naturally, this can have great benefits to both mental health and performance at work.

Finally, finding time to unwind with people in a friendly and sociable environment is essential to keeping on top of stress. Human beings are inherently social beings. Socialisation, whether that be by talking with friends, going for a coffee with a co-worker, or going for some food after work, has been shown to decrease stress-related anxiety, make us feel more confident, and promote a sense of attachment to those we are close to. This is one of the reasons that we love to host events that bring together people from across different industries to enjoy time together in a friendly environment.

Want to talk more about stress at work or interested in coming to one of our events? You can contact me at


You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.


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The importance of networking

Networking – it’s a word that can make people recoil, yet we all know the importance of having a strong business network and how much it can benefit you and your company. So why so much negativity?

I guess it doesn’t help that we’ve all heard the networking horror stories – or had to suffer some personally!

Too salesy

There are always the few people who are super salesy and just attend to get their business cards out to as many people as possible without even bothering to get to know them. Or the ones who introduce themselves and immediately launch into their 5-minute pitch before asking, ‘And tell me what exactly you do?’

Lacking in the manners department

Some people don’t seem to have any manners at networking events, charging up to a group who are deep in conversation, to butt in with their introduction. Whilst others stand in the corner on their phone and make no attempt to introduce themselves at all!

Choosing terrible subjects to discuss

I’ve cringed listening to some people talk, apart from the salesy chat, there are other definite no-go’s when it comes to networking conversations.

Number 1 is politics! Just don’t do it.

I’d also steer clear of any offensive jokes or anything too personal, to avoid an awkward situation.

Finding the right event

Having said all of that, if you find the right networking event to go to, then it can be enjoyable, fun and beneficial. Meeting people and growing your network opens up opportunities for you and your business.

You might get direct business, you might not – but don’t forget it’s not just about that. Extending your network and making friends also gives you the chance to get help or advice from your peers, get invites to other events to meet more likeminded people or get referrals. You never know, it might lead to business, but it may not be until a year down the line, so you must think long term.

Thursday Brunch

We run a ‘Thursday Brunch’ breakfast networking event, with guests being interviewed on specific subjects, whilst cooking. It’s informal and relaxed and a fun environment to meet great people, have fun and take away some useful information. If this sounds like the sort of event you’d like to join, you can sign up here:

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR and Shared Services professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Job titles: the complex to the downright hilarious

Job titles have long been the basis of determining a person’s status and role within a business. I have noticed a considerable change in this over the last few years and have found job titles to be quite ambiguous, especially in the HR arena.

Understanding broad job titles

Job titles mean different things to different businesses, which can become quite confusing for everyone involved. HR Business Partner and HR Director are the two broadest areas as there are so many different levels in each role. I find that base salary and reporting lines are the best way to understand exactly where the role operates within a business.

‘Outside the box’ job titles

We live in a world where people no longer want traditional job titles and are trying to be innovative regarding titles. I feel that job titles should reflect the culture of a business and its people. A couple of businesses we have recently worked with have totally nailed this approach and continue to lead by example. During a recent conversation with a senior HR Director, they talked about people within your business being your differentiator and if you want them to ‘think outside the box’ then why give them an ‘inside the box’ job title. An interesting approach and one I’m sure will resonate with some of you.

Plain funny job titles

However, some companies have taken this to the extreme and I have uncovered some hilarious titles! Some of these titles give no clue as to what the job entails, although there seems to be quite a few around making people happy…whatever that means 😊.

Here is a list of some of the strange ones I came across:

  • Director of Making People Happy and Content 
  • Creator of Happiness
  • Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfilment
  • Chief Happiness Hacker
  • Happiness Wrangler
  • Snake Milker
  • Bacon Critic
  • Wizard of Light Bulb Moments 
  • Recruitment Wizard
  • Sourcing Ninja

It appears there are no limits to the levels of creativity we can now reach with job titles. What’s the funniest title you have seen recently?

If you want to have a chat, you can contact me at

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR and Shared Service professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Executive search – ‘worst-case’ interview scenario?

Everyone gets nervous before an important meeting or interview. It doesn’t matter how much you may have prepared, there are some common intrusive thoughts that always manage to worm their way into your head the night before and cause you to think about possible escape routes should the worst happen. Through our executive search experience, we can help.

But worry not, you don’t need a getaway car parked around the corner to survive an awkward interview. There are tried and tested things that you can do to overcome these embarrassing moments. And who knows, if you flip the situation successfully it could work in your favour and become an example of how you have managed uncomfortable situations.

The person that you are meeting isn’t focused on you

If you notice that the other person is frantically typing on their laptop and hasn’t said in advanced that they may be taking notes or replying to a work email, then your brain may go into overdrive and wonder whether they are mind-numbingly bored in your presence.

Read the situation and your audience, and if you’re still not confident that you’ve got their attention then politely asking questions to advance the conversation could resolve any worries that you may have. If they need to rearrange to a more appropriate time, then this gives them chance to do so

Being too early can be just as awkward as being too late

When travelling to an interview you can sometimes misjudge the traffic and end up an hour early…. It’s better than being late and although tempting, it might not be the time to show them how keen you are!

The chances are that whoever you are meeting is busy and won’t be sat waiting around for you an hour before (or after) your scheduled appointment, so if you know that you’re going to be too early go and grab a latte and steady your nerves. 15 minutes is plenty early enough to get there.

You forgot your presentation or interview materials

This problem can be easily resolved by planning properly. Try not to rely too heavily on paper materials, which can be misplaced or lost. Instead, ensure that you have an offline copy of your work ready and waiting on your laptop that you will be able to bring up regardless of the wifi situation.

And if your laptop dies, make sure that you’ve sent an email to yourself with all of the key documents on, so you can at least access them on your phone as a last resort. After your meeting, ask the person that you’ve been with if they would like you to email over a copy of any document that you’ve just used so they will be able to access them when reviewing your meeting.

Everybody has at least one awkward interview story, and how you deal with any embarrassment can say a lot about you and how successfully you manage situations. Also, a little bit of humour can go a long way, and we can all be united in our common awkwardness.

To have a chat about your interview contact me at

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.