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We catch up with Nicki Paterson, Business Growth Lead, to find out what life at SD is really like…
Hi Nicki, thanks for chatting to us! Did you always want to work in sales?
To be honest, as a kid all I ever wanted to do was play football professionally. At 16 I got that chance, and 18 years later am still involved in the game at a professional level. However, my parents always stressed the importance of education, as realistically only a small percentage make it as professional sportspeople. Passing my higher exams made it easier for them to see me follow my dream.
My football career is unlike most others; 3 years in Scotland, 4 years in Las Vegas on a “soccer scholarship”, then a further 8 years in the pro ranks before returning to Scotland in 2016 at a crossroads. I was a bit lost, asking myself “do I continue football full-time when the money doesn’t match the US? Or do I move into full time employment and play part time?”
Sounds like a tough decision. What helped you make your choice?
I’ve never been work-shy, and the thought of working 9-5 doesn’t phase me. For me, it’s more about what I will be doing during that time. I had the pleasure of loving every minute of my career up to that point, so the thought of the unknown wasn’t easy. Ultimately, I chose the work/part time football route and continue to do this today. My first role was a Sales Exec at Monster, a global brand. I enjoyed the role, was successful but always felt I could offer more. Enter Solutions Driven.
What was your journey to become part of SD like?
I met the CEO of Solutions Driven, Gavin Speirs, in May 2017. Within the first ten minutes of our chat his passion for the company, recruitment, people in general and wanting things to be done better shone through. His drive matched my own. The chance to move into a company whose clients are global (placed in 54 countries in the past 3 years), would allow me to continue to speak with and travel to new places.
I got the impression that Solutions Driven is an extremely adult environment where support is given from the top, but autonomy is given to the employees to come in and do a good job. The job isn’t heavily matrixed, but there’s enough structure so that everyone knows where they stand and what it takes to be successful. At that point I was sold. I knew very little about recruitment, although my wife had been in recruitment for 10+ years so I felt I had a good idea of the challenges ahead.
You’re still here, so how’s it been?
It’s now over 2 years later and I now work closely with both Gavin and Walter Speirs, the COO. As sales lead, I have seen the sales, accounts and marketing teams grow. Sales and delivery are split at SD which allows individuals to play to their strengths as not all sales people can recruit and vice versa. During my time at SD we have added 20+ new clients in 2018, and have already achieved 20 thus far in 2019. Revenue increased 23% in 2018 and I believe we will continue on this trajectory this year with the team we have in place.
Great! Do you really enjoy your job or are there down sides?
Winning new clients is great. I believe the harder you work the luckier you get, but effort alone is not enough. Knowing your business inside and out, which types of business you want to go after and what clients we can share success stories with is extremely important. Why work so hard to win a new client and then not be able to fill their open position? That relationship will not last long. In football terms, you are only as good as your last game.
We are very lucky here at SD that Gavin and Walter have developed the 6S Process; Scoping, Scorecarding, Sourcing, Selecting, Securing & Satisfying. Our Delivery Specialists use this process as a road map to success for our clients. Given our global experience across many industries, there are not many roles we cannot support on but rather than be another contingent recruitment agency, we think of ourselves as a recruitment partner for business-critical hiring needs.
What does business-critical mean?
Business-critical can mean many things; a C-suite hire, a leadership role, a role that’s been open for 6-12 months, a role than if not filled will hurt the business, a confidential hire, a replacement role or a role that is extremely time sensitive etc. When a role is business-critical, the approach is not spray and pray, an online advert, check my database to see what we have that might work. It is essential that the role is filled right first time. “Right First Time” is the key metric that drives Solutions Driven forward.
We are sitting currently at 97% right first time, meaning our client hires a candidate from the first shortlist delivered. Our standard process allows us to scope the role and propose our delivery commitments within the first few days. We strive to send our clients a shortlist within 3 weeks, 93% success on that currently. Also, we add a sample stage approx. 1 week/halfway through the process to look at 2/3 engaged sample profiles to make sure we are on the right track and can re-calibrate if necessary. This ensures come shortlist our clients have 4-6 primed candidates who all match the spec, have been competency based interviewed, psychometric tested and we know exactly their reasons for wanting to be part of this new company moving forward.
Would you say your career has worked out for the best?
I saw dark days ahead when I thought about my football career ending. Meeting Gavin and joining Solutions Driven really opened my eyes to what was possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything is perfect; there’s so much human involvement that is outwith your control, but when you believe you work for owners and a company that want things to be done better it gives you the motivation to continue to raise the bar. I can honestly say I wake up in the morning with no fear to come to work. I experience the opposite in fact, as often I find there is just not enough hours in the day. With a second kid arriving 3 months ago my work/life balance is extremely important to me! Having global clients means taking a call at night on occasion but I guess I’m lucky my wife understands the industry.
Do you feel like you get to use the skills you learned from your footballing career?
I came from a world where every result was life and death, and expectations were always high. I was fortunate to have achieved so much in my career, and admittedly I still cling to these moments by keeping a football picture on my LinkedIn profile, but it’s who I am and I’m proud of that. Football taught me to be a team player, a leader, and to do your own job before telling others what to do. All skills I feel have translated to the business world. I have a team around me here at SD that is more like a family with everyone willing to support when needed. A team that share ideas, best practice and collaborate to ensure we deliver as best we can.
Thanks Nicki, and happy working!