JUSTIN POWLESLAND – Reputation, Risk and Reward
All content by Joff Alexander-Frye
The world of recruitment is an often-misunderstood one. That is probably because, unfortunately, some recruitment companies still operate in the same way as they did (and with the same unchanged values as they had) twenty years ago. Not so with JHP Recruitment.
JHP is one of the new-wave of recruitment firms, with an approach centred around consultancy, listening and understanding rather than aggression, bullishness and unrestrained competitiveness. I recently caught up with their top-man, Exeter local Justin Powlesland, who I found to be a friendly, quietly-determined and hard-working man on a mission.
It is a rarity, in my experience, to find people with such drive, ambition and single-mindedness who aren’t real idiots or lack the ability to engage healthily with the world around them. But Justin has truly found this balance and is achieving hugely impressive things, but without the often-associated collateral damage that comes along with it.
This, I found, is down to several key values which he holds closely to: that business should be approached in the same way as your personal life; that you should treat people the way that you want to be treated and that, in the world of recruitment, people do business with those who share their same values.
Justin grew up in Exeter and has lived in different parts of the city for his whole life, pre-dominantly Alphington and St. Thomas. Moving through the city’s education system, he attended high school in St. Thomas and went on to study P.E at college. Sport was (and still is) a central part of Justin’s life, as was proven by the variety of sporting memorabilia displayed around their modern office (including a personal photo with Anthony Joshua, and a pair of his shorts from his title fight against Wladimir Klitschko).
Not wanting to attend University, Justin went into the world of Financial Services, working in mortgages and insurance for six years at LSL (at the time, called Your Move). And, it was a friend that he made there that, after leaving to move to Reed Recruitment, phoned Justin and asked if he would consider coming to work with him, as he felt that Justin had the right temperament and skill set to make a good recruiter. Justin accepted and quickly went about proving his friend’s hunch right; setting up a dedicated HR recruitment desk at Reed and placing people in roles ranging from junior HR Administrators all the way up to HR Directors, for clients such as Devon & Cornwall Police, the NHS and Guinness Care & Support.
From here, he moved into veterinary recruitment for the first time, which he found much more fast paced and enjoyable. Honing his craft in this specific niche area of recruitment, Justin excelled over a four-year period and, eventually, left to set up a recruitment business with two friends. Over the subsequent three years, Justin continued to learn, develop and progress and, in 2016 decided to sell his shares in that company and start his very own company, JHP Recruitment.
Initially based out of his garage at home, Justin saw this business venture as an exercise in freedom and work/life balance. With children approaching school age, he intended to work from home, do the school run and have a more measured pace to his life. Little did he know the rollercoaster that he was strapping into!
His first challenge was to convince his first few members of staff to join a brand-new start-up, based in a converted garage. It took some doing, but those first few members of his team (Josh, Laura and Charlotte) have all continued to work for JHP – no mean feat as the first few years in a start-up are a real test of patience, faith and teamwork.
Upon hearing about his new venture, a corporate client who Justin had previously worked with contacted him and requested that he provide some quotes and details for some recruitment work. This turned into the most significant deal for JHP – their first large contract, dealing with over 500 clinics for this one client. And, like London buses, within a matter of weeks, three more large corporate clients had enquired about partnering with JHP and, before long, added a huge amount of momentum to the JHP train. They were now dealing with the recruitment needs of over 2000 clinics nationally, simply based on excellent reputation and previous positive rapport.
Fast forward a few short months later to the present day and Justin now finds himself with a team of thirteen vibrant (and frankly hilarious) guys and girls. He had only planned to have a couple of staff by this point but has grown quickly in order to keep up with his fast-growing client base.
Such is his success, in fact, that he was recently awarded the Best New Start-up Business of 2018 at the Express & Echo Business Awards, as well as the impressive accolade of the Best Veterinary Specialist Recruitment Company in the U.K at the Lux Pet Product & Services Awards. He genuinely hadn’t imagined that they had any chance of winning either award but describes the moments of finding out that they had won as being some of the proudest of his life so far. So low were his expectations, in fact, that he had already briefed his team to enjoy the ceremonies, use it as a team building exercise and be humble in defeat. Little did he know that they would have to humble in victory, a very different thing indeed!
And, it was clear from talking with Justin that how his team do business and the atmosphere that he creates in his team are both of utmost importance to him. The new office that they have moved into on Exeter Airport Business Park is modern, clean and spacious. Straight away when you walk in, you are faced with a photo wall of the key memories of the business so far, sports memorabilia, a PlayStation 4 and sofa corner as well as some motivational and humorous quotes decaled onto the walls.
It is a workspace intended to be welcoming, comfortable and pleasant – all of which have been achieved and more. Justin outlined how this is the first true team he has been a part of – not just a group of individuals, but a team who support each other, fight for each other, make each other laugh and bring the best out of each other.
And with a vision to continue their exciting growth journey and establish four or five key specialisms within their team (currently specialising in Veterinary and Catering recruitment), JHP’s challenge is going to be to cement that positive culture firmly as their number of staff members grows. And it will grow for sure. Good staff are attracted to good companies like flies to a light at night. And JHP is shining bright for all to see.
Justin finished our conversation by recalling a piece of advice that he had been given by a previous boss, “If you don’t take risks, you will never know”.
From me and the team at Grow Exeter, we wish you a risky and rewarding future.
For more information visit: www.jhprecruitment.com