Our interview with one of BWD’s founders, Alistair Brownlee, in his new role as Sales Director, gives some great insights into the newest changes at BWD.
You have moved from running Wealth Management to Sales Director, how has the transition been?
The transition has been good, better than expected. I am enjoying the new challenges, although it is strange to not have close interaction with the Wealth Management team anymore.
I am enjoying having less distractions and more of my own space. I am working on more project-based matters, so having my own time is important.
What does your new role entail?
Where do I start? My new role entails the pursuit to increase sales and opportunities across the business for both existing and new clients. I must create a coherent and robust sales strategy for BWD. There needs to be more cross-fertilisation between divisions, and this could be a great growth area for us.
As well as this, I oversee the marketing team. Sales and Marketing go hand in hand, so it made sense to take responsibility of this too. The Salary Census is in its seventh year, and the roundtable events are gaining great momentum, and we are also regular contributors in the press. Since Bret was brought in to head up marketing in 2018, our exposure and brand awareness has increased significantly, which has been great for BWD.
A lot of positive changes are happening in BWD, are you proud of where the business is going?
I am definitely proud of where the business is going. It is completely different to how it was when we started. We have made some critical changes along the way. Changes to raise the bar and grow. We have brought in a lot of senior hires, as we needed a leader for each of the divisions, which has been one of the biggest changes here. These hires helped to raise the bar for the skill of people within BWD.
I am very proud of our team, they are our biggest asset. Our employee satisfaction survey came in at 86%, which clearly shows that we are doing something right, and our staff do enjoy coming here!
Will you stop recruiting, or will you be tempted to make the occasional appointment?
Sadly, making placements is not part of the new role. The emphasis will be more on bringing cohesion, bringing in more business, and helping others do better in their roles. I get pleasure seeing our employees do well, and I know that they are more than capable of handling their roles in the business or taking care of any leads I pass over.
What advice would you give to a graduate or someone looking to work in recruitment?
Think long and hard about whether you want to work in recruitment; it is much more difficult than it seems. We want experts in recruitment, and it takes a long time to get to that point.
Graduates think it’s a pathway to quick money making, but it takes time and effort – it’s a skill. People who want to work in recruitment need empathy, and they need to be able to spin a lot of plates – not everyone can do that.
The rewards are good; you can earn a lot of money, but you need to put in the hard work. Nothing’s easy.
If you could change something within the recruitment market, what would it be?
The perception. Recruiters generally get a bad reputation. There are bad recruitment firms out there, but there are scandals in every industry. There are definitely negative aspects in other industries too, recruitment is just easy to pick on.
Clients and candidates will both blame the recruiter, but this is not always justified. Quite often it is the candidates lack of skills, or the clients inability to sell the role, or pay the right money, which is the real problem.
In the 14 years of BWD, do you have one highlight?
I do not really have one highlight, but one thing that I enjoy seeing is the progress of our people. It’s so nice to see our employees buying their first houses, getting married, having their first children. It is very rewarding to see that we have helped their journey.
Is there one funny or memorable moment you will always remember?
There are far too many to mention. We’ve had some brilliant nights out and fantastic trips abroad. The trip to Barcelona definitely stands out for me, but there have been lots of hilarious moments whilst working at BWD.
Outside of work, what do you like to do?
I love spending time with my family. I have two young daughters who keep me on my toes, and because I don’t see them a lot in the week, I make sure to spend weekends with them.
I also unwind by playing squash and golf, cooking, reading, listening to music and watching films.
Who is your idol?
As a kid, I would have said Nick Faldo, the best English golfer. I was very into golf when I was growing up and I played it all the time, but I’m not sure who I would say now.
Where will BWD be in 10 years?
In ten years’ time, BWD will be a much bigger company. I am sure we will have more structural changes, and the teams will have expanded enormously.