The traditional joke about financial recruiters is that they are all only taking the job so that they can discreetly slip their CVs into the top of the pile. But for Logan Naidu, it worked the other way round.
He decided to become a headhunter after stints in corporate finance at JP Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers convinced him that he didn’t want to become a banker.
While his decision was partly motivated by the long hours, he now realises that the real reason that he left was because he didn’t like the environment. “I felt that working for a large firm was too bureaucratic,” he says. So he decided to put his industry contacts to another use by joining the Cornell Partnership, an executive search agency.
Naidu was a success at Cornell, quickly rising to the rank of managing partner. But he felt that there was a gap in the recruitment market. Cornell, like most other search firms, focused on finding established leaders to fill senior roles.
Naidu believed firms could benefit from finding the right person at a slightly lower level, who would be able in time to take on the top jobs. That led him to take the bold step of leaving Cornell in 2012 to found Dartmouth Partners, a firm focused on junior level positions.
The costs of setting up the new firm were minimal, and Naidu was able to fund most of them from savings he had built up through the course of his career. His worry at first was that it would be difficult to convince customers to choose his new agency.
Fortunately, many of Naidu’s clients chose to follow him to Dartmouth. He also managed to find new clients by word of mouth and networking.
Indeed, Naidu admits he was taken aback by the speed at which Dartmouth took off. He thinks the biggest challenge he has faced so far is dealing with the consequences of unexpected growth. In particular, there were two distinct issues. The first was hiring and training new recruiters who had the exceptional ability that he was looking for.
The second was making sure the firm was able to keep up with the workload, while ensuring each client still felt that they were getting value for money.
The popularity of networking websites, such as LinkedIn, which makes it easier to locate potential candidates, and the increased trend toward in-house hiring teams has encouraged many companies to bypass recruitment agencies.
So Naidu has focused his energy on adding value to the process. The success of this can be seen in the fact that Dartmouth now has 29 members of staff and is on course to have a turnover of £4.2m this year.
Naidu is cautiously optimistic about the long-term prospects for both the financial sector and the City of London. He acknowledges that the industry has been under a tremendous amount of public scrutiny, and there are substantial downward pressures on compensation. However, he hopes that politicians won’t “kill the golden goose that powers the economy” and notes that “these things tend to go in cycles”.
When it comes to advice for would-be entrepreneurs, he advises people to “get a good team around you”. Specifically, he thinks that employers should look for “ability and adaptability” because “you can’t have one without the other”.