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​10-Year Retrospective - Leon Milns

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In this post, our co-founder and Director, Leon Milns shares how he built the Adam London branch from scratch, the challenges this entailed and how the experience impacted his personal growth.

The Craziest (And Best) Move of My Life

For me, one of the most pivotal moments from the past ten years has been our expansion into the London marketplace - a move I spearheaded.

It was the perfect time for me to relocate: the business was ready for growth, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to develop my skills and a change in my personal circumstances enabled me to jump in with both feet.

I knew launching a new office would be tough, especially in such a saturated market as recruitment. I was excited about the challenge, though. It was the window of opportunity I wanted to further my personal growth.

Back in Start-Up Mode

We’d already built a successful business in Manchester - most people in the industry knew us. In London, we were the new kids on the block and had to start from scratch.

Every day was a hustle. I would literally work all day and then spend all evening networking with people in the digital and tech industry. It was gruelling but at the same time exhilarating. I became actively involved in BIMA, Podge, Agency Collective and Supper Club - meeting incredible people every day and building new relationships zapped my energy but I loved every minute.

Saying that, London was still a challenging nut to crack. Most people had ingrained relationships. Convincing people to trust us when we were such an unknown really put my people skills to the test. It took 12 to 18 months before we started seeing the fruits of our efforts.

Assembling a Powerhouse Team

The business in London grew so I needed to build a team. It wasn’t an easy task: the recruitment consultant market in London is vastly different to Manchester. In many ways, it’s a fast-paced and unforgiving climate that attracts cutthroat recruiters set on earning a fortune.

Our ethos was the opposite. After the 2009 recession, we’d adapted our culture to survive and flourish (check out our CEO, Richard Gahagan’s take on this rocky time). We focused on hiring the right people, creating fantastic learning and development opportunities and retaining quality clients instead of growth based on the tightest margins.

Adam flourished because of this change in mindset: with a tight-knit team of highly-skilled people committed to delivering above and beyond for our clients, growth became much more organic and sustainable.

We discovered that continuity and stickability is the key to running a successful business, so I wanted to hire people who fit in with our culture and would be loyal to the company.

We interviewed a lot of candidates who expected big bucks but had more jobs on their CVs than I’d had hot dinners. Eventually, though, we found some fantastic people - like Rochelle, our Talent Manager. She blew me away with her passion for helping others. She was the perfect fit and has been integral to the success of our London branch.

Taking London By Storm

Thanks to our human approach and commitment to helping other business owners succeed, the London business has blossomed. We’ve thrived through referrals and repeat business and have become an active part in the city’s digital community.

Today it is one of the most profitable areas of the wider business because we focus on great work, great clients and great people. I’m extremely proud of the London team and can’t wait to see what lies ahead. But if I were to do it all again? I’d approach certain aspects a bit differently ...

Things I Wished I’d Known

The big one: how much time and money I needed to budget for transportation. I initially thought that travelling by the London Underground would be pretty speedy most days.

But frequent engineering works can easily result in long delays - it’s incredibly important (especially if you’re heading out to meet a client) that you account for travel disruptions!

Oyster cards for the tube aren’t cheap either. So, if you’re into cycling, investing in a road bike is a much more cost-effective way to travel (and quicker in a lot of cases).

There are a few other things you should consider if you’re thinking of relocating to London. Check out this blog on how to set up a London office for more tips. There’s a big learning curve but with the right preparation, it’s 100% doable and worth it!

Our Next Retrospective

Stay tuned for our next 10-year business journey from Vanessa Jackson, our phenomenal HR Director. Meanwhile, check out our past retrospectives from the team on the Adam blog.