Levelling the Playing Field

Levelling the Playing Field

Written by Stella Nicholls 

Photos supplied by King Recruit 

Recruitment Entrepreneur, founded in 2014 by former Dragon’s Den star, James Caan CBE, has recently been focussing on the South West.  More specifically, James’ attention has been drawn to Exeter’s own Helen Plumridge, MD and founder of King Recruit.  

Helen Plumridge, MD of King Recruit and James Caan CBE.

During a recent virtual meeting, James personally welcomed Helen, where she had the opportunity for a chat with her new business partner.  

Helen asked James why King Recruit had been chosen as the newest joint venture. James replied, ‘I think what is very important to us, Helen, is that we invest in people.  It’s people who create businesses and as the founder and leader of King Recruit, we invested in you. Your passion, your excitement, your enthusiasm and your commitment to excellence. From our perspective, you have all the ingredients that we believe one requires in order to build a successful business.’ 

Helen has years of recruitment experience under her belt and has successfully taken King Recruit, founded in 2015, from a start-up to the company that it is today.  Which, having attracted the attention of one of the most experienced businessmen in the UK today, is no mean feat.  It’s a laudable triumph, in fact. 

With their offices based in Pynes Hill, Helen works with high growth SME Businesses in the South West helping to drive success within the teams.  She said, ‘In our business, we help SMEs to grow and scale across the South West region.’ 

Taking the opportunity to draw on the wisdom of the seasoned entrepreneur (who in 2017 was named as LinkedIn’s second most influential voice) Helen asked what his biggest piece of advice was when hiring for growth.  James replied, ‘I think when the business is growing, the key thing is not to fill vacancies but to hire talent.  I think we as small businesses, sometimes become obsessed with filling boxes, but businesses really grow because of talent, and sometimes you meet talent that may not directly fit into the box that you had, but they could impact your business.’ 

The collaboration will help King Recruit to assist businesses in attracting top candidates to the South West.  The past year has impacted the way people work, which has resulted in many city dwellers wishing to relocate to more rural areas. Exeter, which boasts an award-winning University, UNESCO City of Literature status, as well as the Science Park and Met Office, is an attractive option as well as the many other beautiful towns and cities in the region.   

Helen asked James whether he thought there would be an impact on cities like London and other major cities in the UK. He replied, ‘There will be an impact but I don’t think there will be an impact to businesses because businesses will continue as they were. What will change is that we’ll bring in this concept of flexibility; I think as business owners, we’ve always been unsure about people working from home.  Will their productivity slip? I think what the pandemic has taught us is that you can maintain productivity, whilst still working from home.’ 

James went on to say that he didn’t believe that everyone should always work from home and that there was still a role for people to go into an office. Human interaction and connectivity – building relationships – is an important part of business.  New recruits, for example, gain valuable experience from working in an office situation. 

He continued, ‘I think every business needs to have a base and people still need to come in because spending all your time in front of a screen on Zoom, it’s not the most productive and frankly not the most enjoyable.’ 

Helen and her team are passionate about women in business and diversity, and especially in moving more women into leadership positions.  She asked James what he thought businesses could do to implement that change in the future. James replied, ‘I think it’s recognising that women can be as transformative in business as a man could. I think it’s creating that level playing field and it’s simply giving people the opportunity. I would say in our organisation, we are probably 50% female and 50% male, so we’ve got a very good balance.  We do not differentiate at all; in my eyes, a woman is just as capable of achieving greatness as a man.’ 

James went on to say that there should be no differentiation in terms of income and remuneration, rewarding on merit, not on gender. 

The King Recruit group which also incorporates King Executive, a search partner assisting clients with more strategic, high performing positions, also plans to expand with the addition of King Tech, King Sales, King Finance and King Digital. Watch this space! 

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