From London 2012 as an Olympian hockey player to life as an Ad Idem Director and Co-founder in London 2019: meet James Tindall.
Hi James. You’re the Director of Finance and Accounting and co-founded Ad Idem with Ann. Before that you were a British Olympian hockey player. Can you tell us about the change in career direction? Do you miss hockey at all? And how did you find such a drastic change in lifestyle from an international athlete to a director of a new recruitment company?
During my time chasing a hockey ball around I actually qualified as an Electrician, as I felt I needed a trade to fall back on in case of a serious injury or if I didn’t get selected. Once I had London 2012 finished, it was time for me to find a new career, one that didn’t involve climbing ladders and fitting itchy insulation. I tried IT sales and then finally ‘fell’ into recruitment, where I was originally interviewed by Ann (this was before Ad Idem was set up).
Through watching and learning with Ann, I saw that recruitment, especially financial recruitment, could be approached with a different feel and mind-set than is often the case. This naturally progressed into Ann and I wanting to build something ourselves that had a more natural feel, the way that we felt financial recruitment should be. In time, an opportunity that was too good to pass came up and we moved forwards with creating Ad Idem, founded on the vision we had always shared.
You mention in your team profile that you ‘will leave no stone unturned in (your) relentless pursuit of the successful delivery of a client brief, regardless of complexity.’ What has been your most complex brief to date? And what was the outcome?
Each role has its own intricacy when it comes to the specifics. The biggest challenge and hurdle to overcome is often having the tough conversations with clients around the level of pay and their expectation for the quality of the candidate. It is through this constant communication – questioning the process and needs with a client – that we are able to really get to the root of a hire and with this knowledge finding the hard to find candidates becomes a lot simpler.
Good people are hard to find. Then to persuade them to move, if they are not actively looking, is a challenge, but for the right opportunity anything is possible. Relocation to a foreign country is probably the trickiest piece of a hire as this requires a large amount of logistical support, not just guiding the interview process.
There’s a lot of interest nowadays in living a fulfilling and balanced life, reflected in lists like the top 100 companies to work for. You also mention in your team profile that a cultural and corporate fit is just as important as qualifications and experience. What are the top 5 tips you’d give someone looking to make sure that they find a position that fulfils them on a personal level as much as a professional level?
My five top tips are simple:
- Be open minded. Don’t miss opportunities that don’t look quite like you expected.
- Ask the questions that you need the answers to.
- Don’t be afraid to challenge and question in the interview process (find out what the challenges are).
- Always go in to an interview with 100% confidence in yourself.
- Speak to people like receptionists and those that welcome you, as they will be the best indicator of the culture.
In regards to your clients, when they are looking to find the best person for a role what are the 5 key steps they should take?
- Trust in the judgement of the Consultant working with them.
- Lay out the key areas needed for the role to make matching candidates easier.
- Know what you don’t need! If you’re unsure what these are, interview a few candidates. You’ll start to see clearly what you don’t need.
- Try to discover the personality of the candidate early on.
- Break the interviewee and interviewer stereotypes.
If a candidate came to you and said they wanted a drastic change of direction career-wise, what advice would you give them? And what would be their next steps?
This is always a tough one, and in our industry around Finance and Accounting not too uncommon either. As a starting point, I would always recommend someone to take a little break and get some distance, if they genuinely felt that they needed it. However, all the effort someone has put in, potentially 3 to 4 years to qualify in the financial industry, is not be taken lightly. Maybe re-evaluate the sector and type of business they are in. If someone has a passion for something it will feel less like work and enjoyment will naturally increase. If, after all this, someone really does need a massive change, it will be an honest discussion around the best way forward for them at that point. They will likely be starting from the bottom again, so they need to be prepared!
Can you tell us a bit about how you spend your time outside of the Ad Idem office?
Outside the office I am running around chasing my 3 children, all under 4 years! The balance of this and work is often a tricky one and without the support of an understanding employer it would not be so easy. Doing nursery runs and then various doctor appointments can make things a challenge. However, I am lucky in that I have a very hands-on wife who also runs her own business and at the same time seems to balance everything so well. I am also lucky that I still play hockey at a semi-competitive level and so that acts as a fantastic catharsis away from the work and kids stress environment. Without this ‘me time’, it would be very challenging to constantly keep driving forward.
And lastly, when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an athlete of some sort. It developed in to wanting to be a cricket player as I knew from an early age that football was never going to be an option. I love hockey, which is hugely athletic, so I’m one of the rare people that ended up doing what I wanted to be as a child.