Founded in 1999, our company has reinvented itself and is enjoying a growth phase. Chairman and Co-Founder, Paul Hunt, reflects on the changing industry and Healy Hunt’s success:
In our 20th year, I feel compelled to put pen to paper and reflect on the journey. In 1999, towards the end of a six-year, tech-driven market, Healy Hunt came into existence as an executive search specialist with a select clientele of retail and commercial banks.
In a buoyant marketplace we started quickly and for nearly 10 years the business grew steadily and successfully thanks to many talented individuals on the team. Sadly the 2007/8 financial crash abruptly brought the first chapter of the Healy Hunt story to an end. By 2007 we had established a team of 24 and a hugely successful business, but when the credit crunch finally kicked in, we were forced to shrink by 50% almost overnight. The tough decisions of 2008 saved Healy Hunt but it was a painful time and for a few years following the crash we were firefighting in a highly turbulent market.
In our industry, technological advancement and social media have made potential candidates more accessible, particularly passive candidates who aren’t actively seeking new positions. Following the crash and with ever-tightening budgets, many of the city institutions, particularly the larger ones, migrated to new forms of Talent Attraction. “Recruitment Process Outsourcing” [RPO] has become the norm for multinational banks whilst many banks have developed in-house recruitment capabilities in a bid to create cost efficiencies. While much of the volume work has been soaked up, there is still room for specialist firms such as Healy Hunt with local knowledge and large specialist networks, to fill the more challenging and senior roles as part of a blended recruitment proposition. Through a targeted and client-centric approach we have repositioned Healy Hunt and now focus on clients for whom we can truly add value. We still manage to develop deep relationships with our clients but it’s a subtly different way of working.
As well as the largest multinationals we also work with a raft of international banks, challenger banks, start-ups and FinTechs. A growing and exciting part of our 2019 client portfolio are the non-bank Financial Service companies with whom we’ve developed some niche specialist knowledge, for example, the rapidly developing consumer mortgage market. The common denominator for Healy Hunt is working with companies where we can offer the greatest level of service and make the most impactful contribution. We have now defined our expertise across sectors and functions, some of which have grown from virtual non-existence in 1999. It feels very different from the old days but is hugely positive and exciting.
Growing the Business
Famous business leaders often reverse engineer stories about the logical, strategically astute decision making that “inevitably” led to their success. In truth there’s some luck involved, character traits count for a lot and when opportunities arise, you must seize them. The key to strategy is to try and have one. Essentially, you must keep pace with change at least as well as your competition. Healy Hunt is facing new competitors from across the spectrum but, we’ve adjusted and found a positive way to serve the industry.
In a small or medium sized business, a key step towards growth is for the owner to bring in new insight and delegate responsibility. Over the past couple of years, we have been building and developing a new leadership and advisory team, whilst leaning on the skills and knowledge of team members who have been on the journey from the beginning. We’ve expanded existing relationships, penetrated new sectors and worked on a variety of different types of engagements and roles. Our client relationships have benefited and flourished as a result. Healy Hunt is now much more rounded and diversified although our history means we still retain our focus on providing exceptional service to our clients and candidates. Our services now include Executive Search, Interim, Contingent and Project Solutions.
I think Healy Hunt is a great place to work (I would say that of course). We have modernised effectively. Beyond service levels, a limited amount of procedure and an expectation of collaboration, our consultants are able to work in their own individual styles. The new leadership team has helped to remove me as a management bottleneck. The combination of continuity, experience, expertise and new perspectives makes us vibrant and flexible. Without listing the entire team, I can say that everyone contributes enormously. I am so delighted with the team we have built and excited about what the future holds.
This is a challenging industry with complex relationships and highs and lows that are hard to find elsewhere. It’s a 24/7 role that can become all-consuming. Although networking and research are always valuable, individuals must carve out enough time to manage their lives, their stress and their wellness. We try to facilitate that and always try to share some leisure time as a team.
We’ve come a long way in 20 years. Have we beaten the market, or have we just been keeping up? I guess it’s a bit of both but we’re still here, so we must be doing something right. I believe in some areas, we are ahead of the curve. Here’s to a successful 2019 (despite the obvious challenges) and here’s to the next 20 years!