Working in the recruitment industry is tough business. Whether it’s vying for the attention of a skilled candidate and cutting through the clutter of a crowded industry or finding game-changing talent and dealing with problematic processes, recruitment isn’t for the faint hearted.

It’s for that very reason that, here at Strategy Solutions, we recently decided to sit down with our very own Commander-in-Chief, Brett Wagner. Though normally stationed in Sydney, Australia, Brett is currently visiting Strategy Solution’s team here in Cebu, Philippines.

As such, we decided to corner him for a quick interview, taking advantage of the fact that he’s here with us in person. So, without further ado, are you interested in getting to know one of recruitment’s finest, most innovative minds? If so, keep reading to see what he has say:

 

How did all of this start out, Brett? How did you end up working as a recruiter?

“My career started off in hospitality. From there, I gradually made my way into sales. Working many years in sales, I then started to hear people talking about something called “IT”. I was interested, because back in 1999, the dot-com bubble was at an all-time high, and it seemed that everyone was making a lot of money online.

It was an exciting time. So, just out of curiosity, I started doing some research into the IT industry and learned about recruitment. I was instantly hooked. Coming from sales, recruitment just seemed like the next logical step because it was sort of sales in a way.

But most importantly, I’d be working with people—that’s what I’d always done my whole life. Since my grounding in hospitality, I’d always worked with people. As such, moving into the recruitment business just seemed like a natural move. And once I got into it, I couldn’t get out of it. I was quite good at it, and I met lots of people from all different parts of the world who were in IT. And that just resonated with me because of my experience as an international traveler.

In fact, one of my client’s managing directors—who I’m still in touch with today—was a mentor of mine when I first started Strategy Solutions. He was a huge help, but oddly enough, he now actually comes to me for advice. Thankfully, along the way, I’ve had some great mentors.

This whole process has been a wild ride, but a great one, too.”

Okay, with that in mind, tell me a bit about Strategy Solutions—what’s that about?

“Strategy Solutions is an international recruitment and executive search business. We recruit in three distinct specialties: IT, healthcare and executive search. The business is based out of Sydney, Australia, but we have a large team in here in the Philippines which is continues to grow.

We’re 15 employees strong so far, and we expect that number to grow to 20 employees by the end of 2016. And if all goes well, that number will continue to grow to be at least fifty by the end of 2017.”

And when you first got started, what difficulties did you face?

“When we first started the business, it was very challenging. Truth be told, my wife and I lost a lot of sleep during those early years. There were many nights that we were up late into the evening working, only to get up early to keep working the next day, as well.

I suppose that every new business goes through the same process. It’s filled with doubt, wondering if the bills are going to be paid on time, worrying about the next step, staffing—all kinds of things, really.

But the one thing that we did to prepare for all of this madness was sit down and devote time to developing a business plan. That first business plan—though by no means perfect—really helped us for the first two years of business.

It’s said that over 80 percent of small businesses in Australia fail in the first two years, and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t one of them. Fortunately, we came out alright, and have done rather well for ourselves.”

You’re the Managing Director – what do your day-to-day responsibilities look like?

“As the Managing Director of Strategy Solutions, my tasks vary. I look after operations, sales, marketing, finance—pretty much everything, to be honest. Fortunately, I’m still pretty hands-on with the recruitment side of things too and staying in close contact with our clients.

We’ve been going strong for 13 years now, and I’ve been the Managing Director for all 13 of them, so I must be doing something right. It’s been hard work at times, but it’s been a great experience all the same time.”

Sounds like you’re busy – what would you say keeps you motivated? What are your goals?

“I’m passionate about shoes and great fashion—just kidding! No, but in all seriousness, the main goal I have for the business in 2016 is to grow my team here in Cebu to 20 people.

For 2017, my wife Michelle and I have put together a plan to help us increase the business to over 50 people here in Cebu. Needless to say, this is an exciting time for us.

We’re very passionate about growing a great team here, because we’ve found that the people are genuinely friendly, loyal and passionate about working with us—especially when they’re working from a home office and missing out on all that traffic. It’s killer out there …”

Shifting gears, what surprises have you routinely encountered in the recruitment industry?

“There are plenty of surprises in the recruitment industry.

Think about it—from a wide variety of emerging technologies and a complex market to fluctuant industry trends and people who regularly changes their jobs, it seems that there’s a surprise around every corner.

For most people, the future is uncertain, so that makes for a plenty of excitement for recruiters like myself.”

You and your wife work together to run Strategy Solutions – what’s that like?

“I love it.

In our industry, relationships are everything, and the key relationship in our business is that we’re husband and wife. Michelle is very dedicated to operations, and I’m more at the front of the business on the sales and marketing side of things.

So, with our combined skills, we do a great job of moving the business forward. And I could be wrong, but I think our team here in Cebu would agree.”

Be completely honest, here—what would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

“The most rewarding part of being in an international recruitment and search business is the opportunity to travel. Michelle and I get to travel to some fantastic locations. We’ve traveled to UK & Europe, India, China, Singapore, Thailand, recruiting.

We’ve been to China a couple of times in the last year as we’re recruiting for a Hospital in Shanghai—it was an awesome experience.

Also, we’ve had the opportunity to come to Cebu and meet with the staff on a couple of different occasions. There’s just no getting around it—the international travel is really exciting for us.”

As far as recruitment is concerned, what’s on the horizon? What do you see?

“Look, there are some truly fantastic things that are happening in recruitment right now. The industry has changed a great deal in recent years. It’s not so much about putting an advert in a newspaper anymore and hoping that someone applies—it’s a whole new ball game.

Specializing in international search, we don’t even advertise on job boards. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about understanding social media and the new tools that are available out there in the recruitment world. We’re focused on using them correctly, and seeing results because of it.”

Last question—what’s next for Strategy Solutions?

“We’re really looking forward to the next phase of our business—phase two, I guess you could say. We’ve been making some big changes, introducing a new website and developing an intranet of our own.

We’ve just brought in a training and development officer, and she’s setting up a whole new training program for everyone in the company. Not only that, but we’re also about to introduce an artificial intelligence tool into the business for our consultants here in Cebu.

Armed with this technology, they’ll be able to locate new recruits all around the globe. So yeah, it goes without saying that things are really taking off here at Strategy Solutions.

And obviously, for everyone who’s listening or reading, seeing as how we’ll be at least 50 strong by the end of 2017, if you want to join us, jump onboard now—there’s plenty of exciting times ahead.”

 If you’re interested in learning more about Brett, working with of the Strategy Solutions team or seeking out high-quality IT, healthcare or executive talent, feel free to visit Strategy Solution’s official website here. Until next time, thanks for reading.