Workforce Solutions: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow with Simon Bradberry

Subject to Talent brings you AGS’ Vice President of EMEA Simon Bradberry. In this first episode of season 2, Simon dives into what we learned from 2020, where we are in the industry today, and how to approach the workforce of tomorrow.
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FWelcome to Subject to Talent brought to you by Allegis Global Solutions. Similar to you, we're always trying to learn more. On this podcast, we speak to talent experts around the world covering workforce management, market trends, technology, on a forever evolving dynamic industry.

Hello. Thanks for joining us for season two of Subject to Talent. My name is Frank Edge. In our first episode of this year, I had the opportunity to talk with AGS Vice President of EMEA Simon Bradberry. We spoke about where the industry is right now, the opportunities for businesses this year, and what the distant future might look like. I hope you enjoy.

All right, we like to start off all of our episodes with the question, how did you get into this industry?

SWell, that's very interesting. I think like so many people, I got into it by accident. So I never had any great plan that I was going to have a career in recruitment or anything like that. I went to university in London, I went to London School of Economics, and I decided that when I graduated, which was in 1992, that what I would do is I'd go work in an investment bank, which is what people from LSE generally do, as a stereotype. So I went to a recruitment agency to get me a job, and I thought, "Wow, guys, aren't you lucky you have LSE graduate here? How do you feel about that?" And they very quickly said to me, "You don't want to work in a bank.What you want to do his work here,which was absolutely news to me at the time.And so I thought, well, okay, I want to live in London. And it wasn't a great time economically so I'll do that and took the job. And I thought, I'll do it for six months, and then I'll get a proper job. But at least I'll be here based in London. And that was with a company called Hays, and I was there for 18 years. And yeah, that's how I got into it. And in fact, one little side story on that is that the guy who hired me, who had that interview with me and hired me, basically still works in the... not the same physical building but still works in the same company doing the same desk. He's been there I think 33 years. And he's still a fear and in consultantsSo he's pretty much unique, and he's a good friend.So yeah, so that's my story of how I managed to enter into recruitment. I did work in kind of a staffing agency side initially, but after probably about four years I got into the outsourcing market, and I've pretty much been in outsourcing ever since.

FThat's incredible. And did your background, your studies, change the way that you maybe approach things or make it different compared to other people?

S: That's a great question. I've never really quite thought about it. I think that I would say that largely the answer to that is no. I'd actually temped for the agency in the summer, so I knew a few people there. But from an educational perspective, I don't think that... The only thing that it helps me with, was I started in investment banking recruitments on the agency side, and I was fortunate in the sense that the market was so good that you could be really rubbish and still make money. And I don’t think I was the world's best recruitment consultant by any stretch of imagination.But all of the kind of terminology around what makes an investment bank work, the back office, front office, what's an equity? What's a loan? All these, what's a derivative? All that kind of stuff, I knew all that. And so I used to run investment banking terminology sessions, even for people much more senior than me. And I think that got me noticed a bit probably because I was doing a bit beyond just filling jobs and being a salesperson. And that probably gave me the first step on the kind of ladder of management or whatever that might be.So, I think probably that aspect, it was definitely beneficial. But other than that, in those very early days, it was really about being a successful recruiter and filling jobs.

FRight. And from that, you say that it was your first step on to the ladder. Was that side of your role … I know you've been around and you've worked for a few different organizations in leadership roles, what's brought you to this point right now?

SSo, in terms of what's brought me to a AGS, I 100% wanted to have autonomy and I was so impressed by AGS' long-term view in terms of investing in strategically important projects, technologies, acquisitions. And I appreciate that you don't by accident suddenly start having cool tools like ACUMEN or QuantumWork. This is something that someone's had an idea on, it's been incubated, it's been backed by leadership, you've then gone and made it happen. And it felt to me this was just like the right sort of place. And in terms of coming to AGS in particular, also culturally, it was just that it was a fit. And I've obviously come here via a number of steps. But it works. I mentioned Hays, for a long time in different roles, I worked in sales, I really enjoyed sales. I really enjoy the hurly-burly of a bit.It's not particularly because I love winning; I'm just a terrible loser. And the fear of losing is so awful for me that it drives me to do anything I can to win, which sounds really perverse, but that's just the way my inner workings of my brain are. And I've never... I did fall out of love with recruitment for a period of time, left the industry, went and worked at Deloitte in HR transformation as a consultant, an HR consultant, and within a year realized that I really missed it.


SAnd I wanted the culture and the and the hurly-burly that is recruitment outsourcing. And so came back and took the opportunity to go and work overseas. So I lived overseas for seven years. I lived in Asia, based in Singapore, but covering the whole region. And that was amazing. And no doubt about it, it was a conscious decision. I've never thought about working and living overseas until that moment came, and then when that moment came, it just felt right. And again, and I know this isn't a session where I should be sitting on a couch and you should be helping me,Frank, but just in terms of where my mind was, even that moment when I decided that I was going to go and take a role and launch a business, launch of recruitment outsourcing business in Asia from nothing, the real motivation for me was I didn't want someone else to do it. I just thought if I don't do it, in five years’ time I'm going to look at whoever does do it and think, "That should have been me.” And again, that was kind of the inner workings of my mind.That's what made me go do it. So that was why I went and did that. So it's been a circuitous and convoluted route to get to where I am today. But I have to say, the number one thing above anything else is that I've really, really enjoyed it. I've been really fortunate, and I'm thoroughly enjoying what I'm doing right now.

FI think if you can have that in a job, it's perfect, right?

SYeah, I'm lucky. You're absolutely rightI'm lucky, but I respect it.

FSo you have this diverse background, you've moved around, you've worked in different areas of the world, you've got pretty extensive experience. When it comes to talent and workforce management, are there lessons to be learned from different parts of the world? Could we learn from different regions?

SYeah, that's a great question. I think the first thing to say is that Europe is more similar to North America, or they're more similar to one another in my experience than either of them are to Asia. It was very interesting living in Asia, working in Asia, for European-based organization. And all the countries in Asia are just so different culturally, but also from a recruitment industry perspective.

Japan is completely different to Singapore, which is completely different to India, which is completely different to China, which is completely different to Australia, which is completely different to Malaysia, which is completely different to Korea. And it'd be very easy to go, "Oh Asia," in inverted commas. But you are literally dealing with countries that are completely diverse from one another, have their own histories. And in my experience, those histories are more diverse than different countries in Europe. And also the recruitment industry itself is very different because it's far more regulated. And I lived in Singapore. To give you an example, in Singapore, recruitment is more regulated or as regulated as financial advisory services are. You cannot do any recruitment at all unless you have passed an exam, and you cannot run a recruitment business unless you've passed a higher-level exam called a key appointment holder. So that was the first academic exam I did since university when I went to do that.

And there are very severe penalties for it. It's very, very easy to go to prison for getting something wrong in recruitment in Asia, particularly in Singapore. It is not very easy to go to prison for doing something wrongly recruitment in either the U.S. or the U.K., just as examples. And one other thing I would say is that one of the countries that I covered was the Philippines. I have it on good authority, although I'm not a lawyer, but if you breach employment recruitment agency legislation in the Philippines, you have a maximum penalty of 18 years without the opportunity for parole.

F: Wow.

S: And the penalty for murder is 18 years, but with the opportunity for parole. So actually, it's treated more severely for breaching recruitment licensing operations than it is actually for murder. I hope I've got that particularly right. But my point is, you just can't go in assume it, you can't go to Asia assuming that the way that you do things in other parts of the world is just going to fly. It really isn't. And that would be my number one point, is that you really need to think about things from a localized perspective. It was a wonderful experience doing that for a number of years. One thing I would say is, to anyone who's listening to this, if you get the opportunity to go and work overseas, think very, very carefully before you turn it down... no matter what stageI was 40 when I got the opportunity to go work overseas, and it never crossed my mind before. But even after, the first year or two were really, really hard because we were setting something up from scratch. And it's very hard to convince people to work with you, convince clients.

But even at that point, there were moments when I wasn't certain that was going to work. And it did work out brilliantly in the end. But even at those points, I thought I'm never going to look at this as a mistake because this is an amazing experience. I've expanded my experience, in my view. So that's one thing I'd say everyone who's I was listening. I'm not saying that every overseas opportunity is going to be right, but I would suggest it's far more likely that you'll regret things that you don't do and things that you do do.

F: That's a good takeaway. I want to talk about 2020. It was definitely not what we planned. I think I can safely say that, but I want to ask you, what did you learn from the yearand how did you see the market react? What stood out to you?

S: I don't think there's ever been a year like it. That sounds like a cliché, but I really don't think there has been, and I don't think they'll ever be another year quite like it. I certainly hope not. There have been an awful lot of lessons that have been learned, but I think the labor market, the recruitment market, will never be the same again.

I think the main reason for that is that flexibility is now ingrained in the way businesses think, beyond the way that it was before.So what I mean by that is, obviously there's the home location piece. And people are now able to work from home. And a lot of senior people in a lot of organizations, a lot of our clients, would have previously insisted, as a matter of policy, you basically need to be in the office, maybe we'll give you a day a week, it was very prescriptive.

That's changed, and I'm not sure it'll ever go back. Different organizations will adapt to it differently, but there will undoubtedly be a greater feeling now that people have proved, because productivity essentially hasn't gone down from those people that are working at home. So the argument, the fundamental argument, which is, "We will lose productivity?" has gone. That's not to say that people won't work in offices anymore because of course, there's camaraderie from a training perspective, in particular. People learn mostly from observing what other people are doing.So I'm not suggesting that all of a sudden, there will be a complete fundamental switch, but there will be greater flexibility. And one of the things I've already started talking to clients about is, they see the opportunity to hire people, particularly in high-cost countries, but predominantly remotely. That attitude has changed and clients are already talking to us about, "Well, if we want to hire somebody doing X skill set, and it could be anything, we don't just want people that can get to London, three days a week or four days a week or wherever our head office may be. We'll consider people that can work from home four or five days a week, or actually, we don't have fixed hours.– those conversations. And they see an opportunity there for an increased pool of talents. And they see an opportunity potentially for it being a costoptimization route as well in some cases.

Those conversations are already taking place, and I think that'll be the biggest legacy of this year.

F: I think that's huge. Because if your area lacked a certain talent, and I know a lot of companies will be thinking, "Oh, there's a great skill set over in this part of the world. If only we had an office there to attract these sort of people." But now that that isn't the conversation.Like you said, you can have remote workers and you can start to target those skill sets wherever they are because everyone's used to working from home and working remotely. Is there a flip side to that? Are people worried about perhaps office culture and the fact that everyone is remote? What are the challenges to doing that, I guess?

S: Great question. Some people are, some leaders definitely are, that I'm talking to. I use a phrase a lot, which is, common sense will prevail. And the drive to greater flexibility doesn't mean that you can't go in and meet your colleagues, it means that you do that as much as you want, as much as you feel the need to, and as much as optimal, actually. There's a balance to be struck here. So I'm personally not worried about that. Because I know when I started working for AGS during lockdown, and I missed the office, so I was keen to get into the office because I wanted to meet people and speak to people. I know that it's not really practical, but other people did, too. There was one day when we said, "Actually a few of us are going to be in," and lots of people turned up, and we had social distancing and that kind of thing. But I think because people do crave that, there's not going to be any barriers to that.

I think the bigger challenge will be trying to train and develop people. We know that 70% of training and learning takes place really from observation and just working with colleagues and observing in particular. I think that's the bigger thing for me – to make sure that we don't see a drop off in how people develop because there's a lower opportunity to observe the more experienced or more senior colleagues. So I think that there's that. Otherwise, I think it'll figure itself out. And I don't think we should be too prescriptive, as organizations, as to exactly what that looks like.

F: That makes sense. I want to talk about technology. In 2020, it kind of played a big part and I want to ask, how is technology shifted the industry? Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe it's how has the industry shifted technology?

S: I think the big change in recruitment as an industry overall has been technology, and it has been happening over the last probably six or seven years. I don't think recruitment changed that much for probably the 25 years leading up to that. And then all of a sudden, we've seen new technology. In fact globally, over the last five years, there's been about one new technology launched somewhere in the world that's been either recruitment-specific, or it's got a very clear application for recruitment.

But given that, I don't think that it's changed the industry enough. I think that the amount that we've actually seen technology deployed and truly change things has been significant but not as significant as it should have been. And of course, the applications are online, but you still see the majority of organizations wanting a CV. Yes, we've seen people being able to work remotely because of the accessibility of not just the good internet, being able to work remotely and talk to people remotely, but active video calls, which means that you can see people's reactions, you can talk in real-time without delay. All of that comes without saying.

What I would say though, is that I think there has been a gap whereby lots of tools are not... there's also chopping and changing, so some tools come and go. Some tools come, and they've got clear applications for, pick an area of recruitment, for assessment or for video interviewing or for assisting in writing advertisements or, and I could go on, but what happens is really the financing model for these tools, for these technologies, tends to be they become successful, then they become really expensive, and they die off a bit because they don't get adopted quite as widely. And I don't think either the funding model for either organizations or for outsourcing providers, such as ourselves, has really truly worked well enough to see the real value from all of these tools.

So there was a survey recently that I saw with HR Grapevine where the number one challenge that was being highlighted by clients was deployment of technology. And this was a 2020 survey. And I thought, "Well, that's really surprising. I can understand, in 2015 or 2016, that might be the case. But I think the reality is that some tools are coming in, and how well are they really being fully utilized? So I think that there have been significant changes, but I don't think those changes have been as pronounced as they should have been. And I think the real challenge for the next couple of years, and in particular, I think that falls at the feet of organizations such as AGS, is how do we make sure that the tools that are there are actually being deployed and used properly and effectively, rather than coming up with ever-new tools? It's about an effectiveness of use. And I think that's really the role of technology interplaying with recruitment for the next year.

F: Yeah. Would you say that previously, it's perhaps innovation for innovation's sake. But recently, we're starting to get to grips with what actually do we need? This is the challenge, and this is the technology to actually get us to the solution of that challenge.

S: I think it's a really good way of summarizing it. I think to say that, I don't think that anyone that's created a technology would be thinking that it is innovation for innovation's sake or technology for technology's sake. They've always got a fundamental principle and need at the heart of what's being done. I think the challenge is that the tools have to interplay in a broader ecosystem and sometimes things which look really cool and really great, don't have the most practical applications. And so I think that there have been occasions when that's been the case. But even so, there are undoubtedly areas of recruitment, which are now commonplace, which wouldn't have been a few years ago.

And submitting a kind of video summary of yourself is definitely one of them, having interviews by video, COVID's completely solved that because that is absolutely the norm. So I think that they've definitely been significant changes, but not as much as I would have liked to have seen.

F: Yeah. And it's interesting under the video interviews, because I think that was maybe a culture thing, as well? Like where culture has to catch up with being comfortable with doing that sort of thing. People last year were maybe scared of video, but now you have to do it. And everyone's got used to it because it's the way we've been communicating, and we're living much more in a virtual world than we ever were. So perhaps the uptake of these technologies by people is a lot better because of that.

S: It's absolutely second nature. And as you might know, I often am involved in delivering a presentation to a client about our services, a pitch essentially, and I remember thinking through the first one of those, because when COVID hit, there were none, there were three months when everything stopped. And then we started having presentations and pitches come in where we would be presenting virtually, and I thought, "Well, this is going to be really interesting." And as soon as you’ve done the first one, it's second nature. And in fact, there were some real benefits because you can use your own... You don't need to worry about sending over a presentation in advance, you can have more people.

So one of the biggest benefits actually of that, that I've observed, is that you've been able to have a greater number of people and therefore the SMEs, for particular subject matter, have always been there to talk about what they will personally do, rather than having a smaller number of maybe salespeople or leaders talking more broadly about areas they're not truly experts in, and I think it's actually been a real benefit.

F: That's great. I know that this hasn't quite settled yet but do you have any predictions for 2021?

S: Okay, so I think that when I would probably like to focus on, I do think it'll be a year of change. And I'm not going to go over the ground we've covered in terms of working patterns and so on, but I think that that's part of it. I think from a recruitment outsourcing perspective, I think that there will be two primary changes. I think first of all, for non-permanent workers, you will see an increasing propensity for all non-permanent workers to be taken together in one view, one tender, one service. And that is already happening, almost universally. But I think the biggest single change that's going to hit the industry and, let's see if this is turns out to be true or not, is that I think it's been a year of reckoning for permanent recruitment outsourcing. What we call RPO. I actually personally don't like the phrase RPO because I think the P in RPO stands for process. And I've never really thought that RPO was a process; I thought it was really a service.

So parking the fact that I don't like the terminology but accepting that it is the industry standard, I think it's been a year of reckoning for RPO because people stopped hiring, and on the back of there were undoubtedly some organizations, there was a bit of a trend for organizations doing in-house. And I think the industry is hurt. I think RPO was has found it a really hard year, globally. And I think there will be a regeneration of RPO, a rethink of what the services are. And I think all RPO providers will be asking them, what value do we really add? In particular, what do we do for clients that clients can't do for themselves? And that will require quite a lot of thought. I know we're thinking about that at AGS to make sure that we're increasing the value that we offer to clients in RPO in the future.

So I definitely see that fundamental rethink of what's happening and I think that the areas of RPO service providers, essentially just transacting on behalf of clients, carrying out their processes, just doing stuff that a client could do themselves on an outsourced basis, I think they'll become less common. Whereas actually, at the moment, they're the most common version of RPO. So, I think that for the RPO providers to survive, clients are going to be looking for more significant value and differentiated services, or else I don't think they'll bother. So, I think that'll be the biggest change. And let's see if that pans out to be the case or not.

F: Okay, that's cool. So total talent, it's been lingering in the industry for a while now. Are you seeing the market get closer to it?

S: So I don't like to answer questions with a question. But what is total talent? I'm not necessarily going to force you to answer that because it's a bit of a rhetorical question, but I think the problem with total talent was that there was no definition of what that meant. So, I know people that would have called total talent as, “Well, you've outsourced your MSP and RPO, and you've given them to the same provider, that equals total talent. I know people that would say, "Well, we share candidates across non-permanent and permanent, or we consider non-permanent candidates for permanent, that's total talent." I know procurement people that think, "Well, we get our providers the same, that means it gives us an opportunity for cost saving because there's economies of scale."

But I don't think, for me, I don't think any of those things are where the market's going. So let me park terminology because I actually wouldn't use the phrase total talent to talk about where the market is going, partly because I think it's undefined. It's kind of common, gone a bit. But also, the word talent, to me, specifically refers to or is more commonly used to talk about permanent staff. And I don't think total talent is there to talk about permanent staff. I think it's there to talk about everyone. So let me flip it around and look at what does the hiring manager see or a business leader? What they see is, they need to get stuff done, they need to get work done. And they need resources and people to get that work done. And what they want to see is they know they need a workforce for that.

They don't really mind where that workforce comes from in the vast majority of cases. It could be permanent, it could be external, it could be internal. It could be a contingent worker, temp, it could be someone under a statement of work or a series of people under statement of work. It could be from a big four consultancy, but they just want to know what's the best way of getting it done. And if I think about how, as a business leader, I get other things achieved in my organization. If I want to get something done with HR, I go to my HR business partner. If I go to procurement, if I go on to buy something, often I would go to my procurement partner. Legal, I go to legal. But when it comes to bringing in talent, I've got somebody that deals with permanent recruitment that faces off to me, I've got somebody that deals with non-permanent recruitment. I thought, if I want someone under consultancy services, I might go directly, or I might go to my procurement person.

If it's graduates I need, well, that might be someone new, who separately works in campus. And if it's internal, well, is that the same person or is that not? I seem to have multiple entry points. And that's the thing that I think will change, because I think that we will move away from permanent, non-permanent, sourcing people being multiple access points. I think we'll move into a world of workforce business partners, where as a business leader, I have somebody who is an expert in my business and is an expert in sourcing skills for my business, wherever that may come from. And I think the missing link, the reason why that hasn't happened historically, is having accurate data at your fingertips, having tools that give you the availability of talent under different channels and routes, has not really been there. But that's changing now.

So I think that we are going to see a significant change in that area. But I do not underestimate the enormity of that change because even if we had a client that I spoke to today that said, "That's what we want to do, I agree with you." Processes, systems, accountability, internally, skill sets of individuals, all that needs to be looked at. So this is something which is a one-, two-, at least, year project for us to get there. So I firmly, firmly believe that the successor of total talent will be what I refer to as the workforce model. It'll be epitomized by having workforce business partners rather than multiple people facing off to individual business leaders. It is an inevitable consequence of having better access to data. It'll take us a period of time to get there.

F: It makes sense, though, it makes sense because the alternative of what we have right now is that hiring manager, whoever wants to get the work done, they're making those decisions themselves, right? And they're saying, "Okay, I've got this problem, I'm going to go to permanent." And that's not entirely reliable unless you're training all those people to make that decision, which doesn't sound sustainable, either. The model that it's not the most optimized thing, it's not going to work as well as what you just explained to me, but I guess we're so buried underneath the processes that we have and got used to that way of working, but it's one of those things that's going to take a while to get there, right?

S: Yeah, I agree. I was talking to a senior hiring manager at one of our clients yesterday, and they said to me, "The biggest frustration I have is that I need to make a decision about whether I'm going to hire permanently or non-permanently. That's the first thing I have to do. And I don't know the answer to that. So when are you going to fix that?" And I don't think that individual will be alone in thinking that. So yeah, I think that that is coming but it is the... When I said about the enormity of internal structures, just to bring that to life, as a minimum, you'd be saying consultants on the statement of work, contractors under like MSP type services, and permanent recruitment, permanent external recruitment, would all be managed collectively, because they’re all forms of external hire.

Well, in most organizations, they're owned by at least two, if not three different areas of the business. So how do we figure that out? And that's just the first thing you thought up before you can get into systems and data access and talent markets, and geographies that we were talking about earlier.

F: Yeah.

S: ... which location, where actually the hiring manager says, "I want to hire this person in the UK. Well, they might be based in London, well could I hire them in Devon or Newcastle or continental Europe or India?" There's all those sorts of things. So there's a lot of change coming. I do think the tools are going to make it possible. I don't think it'll be overnight.

F: Yep. Okay. I want to ask you a question, but I think we might have covered some of that. So maybe just fill in the blanks. I wanted to talk about the workforce of the future. And what that will look like in the long-term. Have we said it, or is this something missing?

S: Yeah, I think we have talked about the workforce in the future already to a certain extent. It will be more flexible. There will definitely be, I think, a higher proportion of people in my opinion, who will be on non-permanent contracts, not because big bad companies forced them down that path – because I think that's what they want. And there'll certainly be a greater proportion of people who will be able to work remotely and might work in an office a couple of days a week as they’re needed to. But by flexibility, that might mean that you work, I think we'll move away from this kind of one or two days a week, whatever it might be, and move towards, well actually, you might do 15 days straight if you need to in an office, and then you might do three weeks when you don't turn up at all. It'll be more locate as appropriate.

The other thing that I have definitely seen, and this is back into the realms of predictions. And it's a personal point of viewI've no idea whether this bit is going to be right or not. But I think that we've observed over the last few years that there has been an increasing percentage of hiring carried out internally. But up until this year, the majority of that internal hiring was permanent hiring, as in I moved from one role to another role. What we've observed in 2020 is some organizations, not all, have really flipped into a world where there's a flexibility around internal hiring. And that could be secondments or that could be a kind of gig approach whereby it might be maybe 20% of someone's time. So, they appreciate it, they want to keep their workforce for the future, they want to keep people engaged, and as opportunities came up or as work was required to be done. I spoke to one organization that said, "Well, we worked on a 20% basis. If any hiring manager gives you one day a week of someone's time, they posted that internally, and then people could apply because people had a bit of spare capacity. It was a roaring success."

Another organization said, "Well, we worked on a three-month basis, whereby we said, 'Well, you can borrow someone for three months.'" And crucially, they said to the hiring manager that was looking for the resource internally, "You don't have to pay for them for that period of time, they'll cost..." And it made people go, "Well, that's really interesting because I can think of that can solve get someone internally." And of course, it was great for staff. So, I do think there'll be an internal gig economy within organizations that will become much more prevalent and standard than we've seen historically.

F: I like that. Yeah, I think you're going to need visibility of your entire workforce for that one, right. And that the skills and if you had that, and you can see where the gaps are and have a holistic view and you drop and drag, and that's pretty exciting.

S: I agree. And that comes back to my point about some of this stuff that I've been talking about. There are tools that make it possible. And one of the reasons why we haven't got there in the past is the tools haven't made it easy. And I think that those kinds of tools are now there. There are definitely internal recruitment tools that are far better than they used to be, like internal engagement tools, and without too much tweaking, you can … pretty much everybody has internal accessibility tools so people can apply if you post something. And most people have CRM kinds of relationship management type systems that enable you to store skills on individuals. You just got to flip that so it's looking at your internal people and people can self-populate. So, I make it sound easier than it is in reality, but if you really want to do it, and if the benefits are there, then I think it can happen. And I do believe that it will happen far more than it's happened in the past.

F: Love it. Final question. Is there anything else that you'd hope for the future of our industry?

S: Well, great question. I would regard myself as kind of an optimist, I suppose, full stop. But even acknowledging that, I'm wildly optimistic about the future of our industry. I feel that we've had to have a real think this year about what do we do. And I think that the question has switched from, how do we compete against other progressive/professionalfirms and how do we compare against our competition to what are we doing that our clients really need? What services are we doing that they can't do for themselves? Which is a completely different question. And I think that is central to our future as an industry because we need to really challenge ourselves to do things better than our clients, to use our areas of expertise, and to recognize that we really have the expertise, and we are experts in how do you hire people, how do you find talent in non-permanent, permanent markets, in different markets around the world.

We are experts in technologies and how you utilize them. We are experts in all sorts of how do you hire people internally? And how do we implement technologies? What technologies are best and for what reasons? And I think that because of that, we've perhaps been a little focused on the transactional elements of our services in the past, and we've realized that we can offer services, advisory services, because we're such expert,s and really our clients want that and we need to make sure that we're delivering that. So, I really see that we are able to acknowledge, both as AGS but also as an industry, acknowledge the skills that we've got, acknowledge that expertise that we have. Make sure that we are deploying that to our clients globally, making sure that we're being explicit about the benefits and the clients are seeing that. And I think as we do that, and I think we've got another year of making sure that we're clear and can articulate all of that properly.

As we do that, I'm extremely optimistic about the future because I see that clients will see the value in what we offer. And it'll just benefit everybody, both on the client side and on the provider side. So, I'm really optimistic. And maybe it's because I'm in the honeymoon period, I'm only just six months into a new organization and a new role. But genuinely, I feel super optimistic about it. We have a great bunch of people working in our industry, and I think it'll only benefit and thrive in the future.

F: Simon, that's fantastic. Thank you very much for your time. I've really enjoyed this conversation.

S: Yeah. Frank, thank you for the opportunity. It's been great to talk to you, really appreciate it.

F:Thanks to Simon for being on our first episode of the season, and thanks to you for joining us. If you'd like to learn more about AGS, please visit And if you have any questions for Simon, please tweet us @AllegisGlobal with the hashtag #SubjectToTalent.

Also, you can email us at if you enjoyed our podcast today, subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. Until next time, cheers!