17 September 2008

Lessons from Andrew Banks

This article originally appeared in Issue 50 of InSight Published 17 September 2008

When Paul McCartney continued his music career after The Beatles broke up, he formed a band called Wings. Wings had a number of hits in the 1970’s before Macca realised less is more and went solo. One of the Wings’ #1 US singles (1975) was a track called ‘Listen to What the Man Said’. The title of this song applies to a few people (women and men) in the recruitment industry.

In last week’s InSight I wrote about one such person, Greg Savage. Today I look at another, Andrew Banks, Executive Director of ASX listed, Talent2 International.

Recently I read an interview that Andrew Banks had with Amanda Gome, publisher of Smart Company website and ezine. If you have a few minutes to read the full interview click here .

If not, then you can read my summary of what I took from the interview, below:

Financial results: Talent2 have gone against the tide of underwhelming recent financial results in the publicly listed Australian recruitment stocks (HJB, Chandler Macleod, Ambition to name just three) by posting a 49% annual jump in revenue to $229.3 million and 29% rise in EBIT to $20.3 million for 2007-08. Lesson # 1: Great recruiters and recruitment companies make money in any market.

Diversification: Talent2 have 37 offices in 16 countries and provide four different product lines - recruitment and three forms of outsourcing; payroll, training and development and recruiting for big projects. Lesson #2: Spread your risk by building capability and depth in one area then look to what other products and markets provide opportunities to you, ahead of your competitors.

Customers: Banks and Morgan, regardless of their mega respective personal wealth went out and talked to companies and learned that CFOs and CEOs all wanted to make HR departments leaner and have the leaders in HR predominantly working on strategy and outsourcing the rest. Lesson #3: Regardless of your past successes, don’t EVER stop listening to your customers.

Your people: Make sure you hire people who are capable of doing the job then ensure each person in your business knows the following:
  • what their job is
  • what their individual goal is
  • how they will be rewarded
then get the hell out of their way!Lesson #4: Be specific with your hiring criteria, then be specific with people when they start. Don’t make assumptions or be vague about things that are business-critical.

Building a culture of cross referrals: Firstly, recruit staff with the right values by finding out about their work history. Understand their approach: is it all about ‘me’ or ‘we’? Look at whether they have achieved results as part of a team and demonstrated collaboration. Secondly, make sure that there’s a combination of rewards that are focused on individual performance as well as company-wide performance. This type of long term incentive plan has delivered thousands of dollars worth of escrowed stock to Talent 2 employees who have generated leads that have turned into big contracts. Lesson #5: Recruit staff who have demonstrated the behaviors that are critical to building a strong company, not just a business unit, and then reward them for delivering valuable referrals.


Growth markets: Build and acquire more businesses in Asia and acquire more businesses in HR outsourcing. Look at market opportunities that help CEOs run a better company, opportunities to provide services that most HR departments can’t do as efficiently as an effective outsourcer.Lesson #6: You may start as an Australian recruitment company but don’t get stuck in that paradigm.

Business focus: Andrew Banks has placed 3 CEOs in the past 6 months so he is constantly talking to CEOs and gaining insights into the market, as well as getting face-to-face with T2 off shore offices (T2 have 5 offices in the Middle East and London).Lesson #7: Have a high profile and a high level of interaction with people both externally and internally – it is a people business and personal contact fuels innovation and performance.

Not only has Andrew Banks been one of the most successful Australian recruitment executives of the past 20 years, he is likely to continue that success for at least the next 20.

In reading or hearing any of Andrew Banks’ views, it’s obvious to me why he is so successful – he loves what he does, he never stops learning, he is great at both strategy and execution and he has an opportunist mindset.

What can you learn from Andrew Banks?

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