Building a business, Growing a career

James made the move from the UK and threw himself into the challenge of helping RGF get started in Singapore. Now a Senior Director, he's met many challenges head on and continues to be bold in building the reputation of the business.

What’s your background?    

I graduated in 2003 and started in technology sales in the UK. From there I moved into real estate, before I relocated to Singapore to work in recruitment. My focus was high volume project recruitment for large international organisations. I had five years’ experience in selection and staffing prior to focusing on senior level executive search when joining RGF Singapore.

Why RGF Singapore?

I’d gained a lot of experience and felt it was time to explore my opportunities. I had offers from well-known western multinational recruitment companies, but I wanted to move away from selection and staffing. Then I was presented an opportunity to be a startup member of a Japan-based recruitment business - RGF. It was a boutique Executive Search business, so it was a perfect match.

How did you feel after you joined?

I immediately knew it was the right place, with the best cultural fit. Being the first recruitment office outside of Japan, RGF Singapore office was establishing its identity and we were able to leverage Recruit’s heritage. It felt good to be part of a team where everyone was driven to get our business competing with the bigger players. It was fantastic to work with and learn from people with so much experience in specific sectors such as healthcare, life science or IT and telecommunications.

Briefly describe your position now.

I’ve worked my way up from Senior Consultant to my current position as Senior Director. I also manage the two largest teams in Singapore, IT&T and Digital and the Industrial & Supply Chain practices.

What’s been your biggest success?

My best placement was a general manager for an electronic manufacturing organisation. The CEO was very specific and we mapped the Asian market almost a 100% to find the right person. In the end we found the perfect candidate, but he was a Malaysian based in China. So we needed to work with him to recognise the opportunity in Singapore. That was three years ago, and he’s now a VP.

My biggest personal success came as a result of my move from Senior Consultant to manager of the IT&T team. I had to work hard to gain approval and respect, and needed to grow and adapt my leadership style to manage team members that were much more experienced than me both in business and in age. In the end I turned the team into a very profitable business and developed as a professional.

How do you get through challenges?

Helping take the business from zero to where it is today has taught me how to deal with challenges: roll my sleeves up and get on with it. Here in Singapore we are still a young company, so we all need to do this; be accountable and put in the time and effort to get the job done. 

What’s a typical day?

I get up about 6:15, when my son wakes and I have breakfast with him and my wife before I leave for the office. By 8:30 I’m at work, with a coffee, getting through my emails and reviewing the market news before my team comes in. There’s no formula, but each day will involve meetings with my team, corporate and management, clients and candidates. I try to finish in time to have dinner with my son, before he goes to bed. Then I open up my laptop again and get back to work until late evening. I never stop working. 

What keeps you going?

Firstly it's maintaining our reputation, so clients always see us as a good and strong business. Secondly it's my family. I’m married, I have my son, so now my motivation is to work hard and provide for my family.

What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

I like weekly games with the RGF Singapore football team, it's good team-bonding. At weekends I often play golf and try to go for a long run. For the rest of the time I like to take my son out to the park or the beach.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for RGF Singapore?

Show us innovation. In Singapore alone there are 3000 competitors, if we offered typical recruitment services we’d never survive. So we need you to be bold and go with your passion. Taking risks is part of RGF Singapore's spirit, from testing out different teams to different sourcing processes. If things don't work, you bounce back from it.

What do future leaders look like?

I’m looking for people with drive and determination, who are willing to take RGF Singapore to the next level. These new leaders will get the training they require and learn from the amazing leaders across the group in some of the great corporate initiatives such as Leadership Academy.