Celebrating 20 years – Interview With Ian Bradbury

Ian Bradbury, Associate Director of  our Technology, Change & Transformation Practice, recently celebrated his 20 year anniversary with psd group. In honour of this milestone, we sat down with Ian as he reflects on his  journey from graduate to leading Executive recruitment specialist in the European Communications market.
executive recruitment

You recently celebrated 20 years at psd – what do you remember about the early days?

My first days in Executive recruitment went very quickly. The overriding thing I remember was the excellent training and support I had during the first months, it was one of the reasons I joined the organisation.  It was a real whirlwind – I came from a publishing firm and I had no recruitment experience, so learning about identifying the right talent and interviewing correctly was particularly useful.  I came into a strong team and there were a lot of strong individuals, but a lot of support as well.

What pulled you into recruitment?

I was a graduate in a role selling advertising, and I joined an exhibition for recruitment. It was during the dot com boom and companies were hiring high volumes of IT staff.  I had a lot to do with recruitment consultants from that point, and suddenly the idea that you could recruit 10, 15 people into a company struck me and I thought ‘I can do that’.  I saw an advert for psd and applied.

We hire a lot of graduates, what are your thoughts on that as a policy?

It’s a great policy, particularly at psd where we have a blend of experienced Executive Search personnel and young fresh talent coming through, it works well.  Graduates embrace technology at a faster rate and have a different view of the world as well.  I believe it’s important to bridge the gap between Generation X and Generation Z.

20 years is a long time – how has the working environment at psd changed?  

As in many organisations, there is a lot more flexibility now which has changed the working environment.  Given the nature of Executive recruitment and at times the hours needed to execute the job effectively, I find it’s great to be able to come in early and do what you need to do to be successful, but to have the flexibility to leave early and lead the lifestyles that we all want to lead.  That environment is really appreciated.  The tools we use now to be more effective in our roles have also hugely changed the office environment – I remember the days when we used to load up the fax machine with CV’s to be sent out! Everything is automated now.

You joined psd to develop a Dutch or Benelux ICT team practice, focusing on network operators and service providers within that region. Can you tell us about the current climate in that market?

I recruit management and executive level roles, or commercially orientated functions, into international organisations with a business unit in that region – with the occasional foray into Sweden. I think with the current political climate around Brexit, the Dutch technology market is performing quite well. We’ve seen a growth of data centres within the area, because there is good connectivity. Given the uncertainties of what’s happening politically, organisations want to ensure that their data is physically held in the Netherlands.

How have the challenges of Executive recruitment changed over the last 20 years?

Recruitment really boils down to two main things; engaging with clients and going out and winning business, and of course the delivery.  The fundamentals of the job are the same, but what has changed are the challenges we face now with competition such as the rise of the in-house recruiter, in-house talent acquisition teams, and perhaps a lower entry to market with tools like LinkedIn.  It emphasises how important it is to build and nurture relationships.  We can maintain strong relationships with clients and candidates, whereas in-house recruiters will have challenges with that as they’re focused on that one role and that one story.  When you call a client or candidate that you’ve had a relationship with for a number of years they will take your call because they know that you genuinely have something interesting to offer them.

You’ve placed some 350 people into new roles during your 20 years with psd, that’s a lot of lives changed.

One of the most satisfying parts of the role is walking into a client’s office and a huddle of people come over to say hello, and to thank you for making a difference to their careers.

What do you feel you still have to learn?

Breaking out and doing new things when you’re very established in a particular sector can be challenging.  You feel you might miss out on your bread and butter and the revenue that you rely on. The thing to learn is to take more risks and being less afraid of making mistakes.  The more experience you have in a role the more concerned you can be that if you do make a mistake it’s not as acceptable as perhaps it would be if you were new. So I think it’s about breaking out of that mind-set and putting yourself out there.

Work life balance is becoming increasingly important to us all. What has it been like for you as a parent doing this job?

I have three kids and I’ve been fortunate to be able to do things such as parent evenings, and I was a Cub Scout leader for a number of years. I felt I had the flexibility to do those outside of work activities. I’ve been very happy about that over the last 20 years.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a great feeling to walk into a client’s office and think ‘wow, I placed that whole team.’  You feel like you’ve made a difference to someone’s career.  And I work with fantastic people at psd. I’ve been at the top of the league table, and the bottom of the league table – but wherever I’ve been I’ve always felt well supported, so long may that continue.