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What is Possible? One year on at Phaidon.

Date: 06 August 2013

In August 2012 I met with the team at Phaidon Capital to hear about its history and future growth plans.

A year has passed and I am at the rebranded Phaidon International HQ to find out how far the micro-specialist staffing group has come since we last met.

Previously located in Mayfair, Phaidon is now based in the City in an office with capacity for 220 employees.

With 360-degree views of London, the environment is impressive.

Adam Buck, CEO, greets me and offers to show me around.

The last time we met I was blown away by his ambitious expansion plans; one year on, I’m looking forward to seeing what progress has been made.

 

VALUES

The words Ability, Character and Loyalty are proudly printed on glass partitions around the otherwise open plan office.

Buck describes these values as the foundation for career success at Phaidon.

“When we were a smaller company, we innately knew what we stood for.”

“With the growth we are experiencing, it became necessary to articulate our values, and ensure that from New York to Singapore they were understood and upheld,” explains Buck.
These values are now prominent in each overseas office.

 

VISION

100% Organic - enabling exceptional careers.

“Our aim is to create an environment where every individual has the opportunity to achieve their career goals,” explains Buck.

“For our employees, this means nurturing talent at every level to ensure each individual’s potential is maximized.”

The group has always promoted from within; Steve Yendell, Kieran Behan, Jon Durrant and Ben Dechampneufs joined as graduates and today sit on the Board of Directors.

James Brown, Harry Youtan and Greg Beszant also joined as trainees and are now Regional Directors responsible for group expansion in APAC, US and Central Europe”

“It is now their responsibility to ensure employees in their regions are given every opportunity to follow in their footsteps,” adds Buck.

 

TALENT

The HQ tour continues and we arrive at the ‘Training Station’ where new consultants are taking part in a ‘Learn to Earn’ session.

Sarah Mason, HR Director, takes a moment to explain the strategy.

“We’ve always focused on good training for our rookies, what’s different about the ‘Learn to Earn’ programme is the way we are engaging with our Gen Y audience.”

“Our courses include Peer to Peer learning, on the job training, 1 to 1 coaching and a small element of Classroom training.”

“What sets this programme apart is the collective responsibility of the Group to help rookies apply what they have learnt.”

The wider L&D strategy ensures that every level of employee, from Rookie to Director continues to develop and advance in their careers.

 

MARKET COVERAGE

I’m introduced to Andrew McNeilis, COO, who updates me on what’s been acheived this year.

“We’ve launched 2 specialist brands in the last 12 months, taking our group from 5 to 7 brands. EPM Scientific is our life sciences brand and GloComms specialises in telecoms.”

Phaidon now provides the central structure that supports 7 specialist brands that cover; Finance, Oil & Gas, Operations, Life Sciences, Power & Nuclear, Professional Services, Renewable Energy and Telecoms.

“We currently place candidates in 43 countries worldwide through these brands, from our offices in New York, London, Zurich and Singapore”

Last time I met with Buck plans for New York and Zurich were well underway, I ask him what’s next.

 

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

Buck takes me through to his office where a ceiling height expansion plan covers his window, taking precedence over a perfect view of the Shard.

To date, Phaidon has enjoyed a compound annual growth rate of over 34%, year on year, achieving an average of 25.3% EBITDA.

“Over the last 12 months we’ve established the foundations for further expansion by entering new markets and growing support functions such as talent, operations, finance and marketing. We’re now ready to accelerate growth.”

“We will be opening offices in San Francisco, Texas and Chicago in the US; Amsterdam and Frankfurt in Europe; Dubai in the UAE and Hong Kong and Sydney in Asia and Australasia.”

Over the next few years, Buck aims to fill a niche as he did when it all started with Selby Jennings and intends to offer to the market a debt free, micro-specialist staffing group with an international footprint and bright future ahead.

With his feet firmly on the ground, Buck adds, “It’s as much about the journey as the arrival, as long as we continue to learn and have fun in the process, the rest will come”.

 

CATCH UP WITH THE TEAM...

HARRY YOUTAN
DIRECTOR OF AMERICAS

When I last came to the Phaidon HQ, Harry Youtan was about to leave for New York.

Now 8 months in, I give Harry a call to see how things are going.

The US is a notoriously difficult market to succeed in, how’s it going?

Setting up in the US involved detailed planning. We had a dedicated team who made sure when we landed in the US we were ready to go.

So far, has it made a difference being on the ground?

It’s made all the difference, we have already doubled NFI twice!

 

GREG BESZANT
DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL EUROPE

The Swiss office is based in Zurich and opened only a week ago.

Six top performing consultants relocated with Greg Beszant, European Director of Phaidon International.

I caught up with Greg to find out how he is settling in.

Is Zurich living up to your expecations?

We’ve been here a few weeks and are finding our feet. The excitement of being here hasn’t worn off; there is a real buzz in the office!

What was the single biggest challenge you faced in the lead up to relocating?

Understanding Swiss Law and ensuring the group was fully compliant, but with the help of our lawyers and the 

Ops team we got there, it was definitely a learning curve but essential.

What advice would you give to the next Director to open a regional office?

Sleep before you leave the UK! The excitement and responsibility of being here means late nights and early starts, I’m loving every moment though!

 

JAMES BROWN
DIRECTOR OF ASIA PACIFIC & AUSTRALASIA

James Brown was the first of the Directors to fly the nest, opening the Singapore office in 2010.

I read that you recently moved into a larger office, things must be going well?

Due to expansion we’ve actually moved offices 3 times since 2010! We arrived in Singapore just 20 months ago with 3 consultants on the ground in a small serviced office; Our new office is in the central business district and seats up to 70 consultants.

What’s the office like?

Parts of the office are very funky with genuine aboriginal artwork, a lounge for top performers with an Xbox, beanbags, gourmet coffee and I-Pods.

However, the sales floor has been purposely likened to that of Apple or Microsoft and is a minimalist, open plan and functional environment.

Ann Swain, CEO at APSCo was the special guest at the opening party and cut the ribbon, marking the official launch of the new APAC HQ.

Ann commended Phaidon’s culture, vision and further expansion plans.

“Phaidon International’s vision and values clearly resonate with every member of staff, it was wonderful to be at the office opening and be part of the exciting times the group are experiencing.”


One year on, I’m impressed by what’s been achieved. The group really has met and exceeded every goal they set last year.

With equally ambitious plans for the next 12 months, I’m looking forward to coming back in 2014 and seeing if the group can maintain this impressive momentum.

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