The Supply Chain Social - Interview with Simon Nicholas
Name: Simon Nicholas
Company: Eden Blake Recruitment
What did you want to be when you were at school?
Pro footballer (during primary school, quickly realised I was nowhere near good enough at secondary!) and then all sorts, ending with professional club DJ by the time I left 6th Form!
When did you first start out in the Recruitment industry?
2007, I was sold the dream of coming into “launch” a Senior Interim Procurement desk in the West Midlands for Hays – it was a bloody nightmare as I knew nothing about recruitment or procurement at that time but had to try and convince people looking for a minimum of £500 per day that I was the one best placed to assist them! What it did do was give me a great grounding in the fundamentals of recruitment and introduced me to Procurement & Supply Chain, a sector I have specialised in ever since.
When and how did Eden Blake come about?
We launched in October 2019 off the back of a VR package I took from Aston Martin. I’d always wanted to start up on my own but timing was always the issue, with restrictive covenants in place and the need to have a decent chunk of cash to get you through the initial months – when the VR option came at Aston it not only gave me some cash to start up with but my time there had meant all my covenants had expired so I was free to work with previous clients, it was a now or never moment. Clearly I didn’t know what 2020 had in store for us all but, despite that, it was still the best decision I could have made career wise.
What kind of jobs do Eden Blake specialise in, and which regions do you cover?
Procurement & Supply Chain is our speciality, everything from Buyers to Procurement Directors, Supply Chain Analyst to Supply Chain Directors and Team Leaders to GMs for logistics. We operate across a wide range of sectors, including Automotive, Defence, General Manufacturing, Motor Sport, Consultancy, Financial Services and Retail/Distribution to name a few. We are predominantly a perm business but do also offer interim solutions, although this is a future growth area for us. We are mostly busy with work in the West Midlands but also have clients in Warrington, Manchester, Crawley, Central London, Milton Keynes and have recently started supporting clients in the US.
What sets Eden Blake apart from your competitors?
We’re a boutique consultancy that aren’t bound by pointless KPIs. We are selective in who we chose to partner with and purposefully don’t over stretch ourselves in the amount of work we take on, it has to be manageable to ensure we don’t compromise on service. What that ultimately means for our clients is that they get to work with consultants that aren’t swamped with an unmanageable number of vacancies, spreading themselves too thinly to do the job properly. We only recruit Procurement & Supply Chain roles, so we immerse ourselves in these professions to ensure we understand what it takes to be successful in these roles and have an extensive, established network to utilise when it comes to sourcing. We also made a commitment that our size wouldn’t mean a compromise on the offering – we’ve invested significantly to ensure that we can offer everything the big boys can and more from both a tech stack and candidate/client experience perspective.
What's been the biggest challenge you and the company have faced since launch?
Initially it was actually switching off! I was working silly hours every day, well into the evenings, weekends, whatever it took to get us up and running, and just as we started to gain momentum Covid hit, which put everything on hold for a good 4 months! The biggest challenge now is how we scale – we work with some fantastic clients with new clients expressing an interest in working with us almost every week, the challenge is finding good people to come on board and service that additional demand, which is resulting in us turning work away at the moment.
There can be no doubt that the rise of social media has had a significant impact on the recruitment industry. What impact does social media have on the way you work at Eden Blake?
A huge impact. We spend a huge amount of time and money utilising the likes of LinkedIn to continue to build and promote our brand and online presence. We utilise it from both a candidate and client attraction perspective and it’s essential in this day and age to maximise your reach. In truth we need to do more, we need to make better use of other platforms and be more regular in our posting, its just a matter of finding enough hours in the day!
How important are job boards within your marketing strategy?
Specialist ones very much so, more so than the major generic boards. We tend to get a lot of success with LinkedIn when it comes to identifying suitable candidates, whether via a direct head hunt or through my existing network responding to post/messages. We have had limited success with the major generic boards and have moved away from all but one at the moment. Our focus is now more shifted to utilising LinkedIn job slots and specialist boards such as Supply Chain Online.
How did the pandemic affected the day-to-day operations at Eden Blake?
When it first kicked in it shut us down for around 4 months. As we all know most businesses stopped hiring and switched their focus to surviving - we went from 13 live roles to 0 overnight. Thankfully I had some big invoices due to be paid during the 4 months so we were okay. What it did tell me is that I’m no primary/nursery schoolteacher!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
That not everyone is going to want to work with you and you shouldn’t want to work with everyone! It’s important to understand the client profile that you can add the most value to and also ensure you work with client’s that truly value what you do and are prepared to work with in a true partnership.
What one piece of advice would you give to other young recruiters starting out?
Probably the above! It’s so important to be yourself, your personal brand is hugely important in this day and age but authenticity is key. Will everyone like you? No. Does that matter? Not in the slightest! Recruitment is hard graft, especially in early days - you’ve got no reputation, and very little experience, you’ll get more rejection than you will success but that’s totally normal, resilience is key, you’ve got to keep going!
What's the latest news at Eden Blake?
We’ve got a new Business Manager joining us at the start of June, which is fantastic, it’s someone I’ve know for a while and worked with before so I know they’re going to bring some fantastic experience and really help us kick on. We’ve got ambitions to continue increasing headcount over the next 2-3 years so will be on the look out for the right people!
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