In this week's People Behind the Brand, where you get to know the Orbis team, we chat with Alex Stone, Managing Director of Orbis in the US. Alex discussed his journey into recruitment, advice for his younger self, and the transition from starting Orbis in the UK to navigating the US Market in NYC.
Let’s hear more from Alex…
You actually started out in the fitness world. How did you transition from that into recruiting, and does fitness/nutrition still play a large role in your life?
I had another role in between as well, working in events management. The thing that ties all 3 of these roles together is that they all involve working with people.
From fitness specifically, I bring a lot of the motivational side of things that I learned in that field with me as a leader now in the office. People are really vulnerable in a fitness setting, like in the gym, and you learn a lot about building great one-on-one relationships. I’ve taken that relationship-building skill into the recruitment world with me.
What’s it been like being here from the very beginning, and seeing so much growth within the company?
I’ll have been with Orbis for 10 years next year, which is the longest I’ve ever stuck with something. The first two years or so in London were really just finding our feet. We were learning how to be successful, going through a lot of trial and error, and trying to enjoy the journey along the way.
After those first couple of years, everything escalated. We eventually grew so much that I was able to make the move to the US, and then it was almost like starting all over again. It took a couple of years to find our stride here, and then business started to boom. It’s been a lesson in patience–you can’t expect everything to happen overnight, much as you might want it to. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but it’s been amazing.
A lot of businesses will say they’re different, but we truly are. There’s so much trust at the core of who we are. We genuinely give everyone the opportunity to grow their own personal brand and the breathing space to “fail fast, learn quick”. It comes down to trust and autonomy.
What’s the best advice that someone gave you when you first started out in recruitment?
Sit next to the best recruiter in the room. You want to learn from the best! If you hear the best salespeople on the phone, stop what you’re doing and listen to what they’re saying. Start to see what their day-to-day looks like, and then start doing as they do. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel in recruitment–I’ve found the quickest way to learn is to be a sponge.
Can you talk about your leadership style – how do you work with members of your team?
I think good leadership is all about recognizing who needs what and when they need it. Some people need coaching, and some people just need a general direction. As a leader, it’s your job to recognize when to step back and when to allow people more freedom, and give them a longer leash.
There can be a fine line between micromanagement and proper support, so it’s really important to work with the individual to find out what support they need to become successful without too much intervention.
What have you found is different from a recruiting perspective in the US versus the UK?
The London market is known as being one of the most, if not the most, competitive recruitment markets in the world. It’s more saturated than the US Market is; it’s a bit of an unspoken rule that if you can make it in the London market, you can make it anywhere.
I’ve found there are a lot more businesses in the US willing to work with external clients than there are in London–the US market is more invitational. Relationships are easier to start here –not necessarily easier to keep but to start. Ultimately, there are more open doors.
You seem to be someone who really embraces change and new opportunities. Do you have any advice for someone who may be less willing to take on something new? What is the value of starting over/starting fresh for you?
The value of starting over, for me, is growth. I do encourage positive change and like to encourage people to take steps forward. That’s not going to look the same for everybody. It could be something as simple as trying out a new sport or aiming for a new goal at work.
When you keep doing the same thing over and over, it can start to feel like “Groundhog Day”. I think it’s really important to push yourself to try new things and grow, even if you’re just improving 1% at a time. The more new things you try, the more you discover about yourself and what you want to achieve, and I’m all for people finding and setting new goals for themselves.
First you moved across the pond to NYC, and now you’ve moved to California! What are you most excited about for this new location and office?
The untapped potential of this new market. Since I came to New York originally and we’ve built out our US Team from there, most of our US clientele is based on the East Coast. It felt criminal to have offices in all time zones, but not the West Coast. California feels like this bottomless market to explore–it’s one of the most innovative places in the world.
Thanks so much to Alex for sharing his time and insights with us for today’s People Behind the Brand! We cannot wait to see all that he and the Orbis team can accomplish on the West Coast. Stay tuned for future instalments from more of your favourite Orbis employees, and be sure to check out our #makethemove campaign featuring our Los Angeles office this month!