“Myself and Ruth Lyndon, my co-CEO, pride ourselves in our positive, collaborative and inclusive company culture,” — CEO Q&A with Ed Rositer of Phoenix

By Business & Finance
24 August 2022
Pictured: Ed Rositer, CEO, Phoenix

Ed Rositer is the Co-CEO of Phoenix, a recruitment service specialising in traditional executive search and contingent recruitment. The company now has bases across Ireland and the UK. 

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

The exciting part of my role is that every week and month has different priorities. Overall, as Group CEO my main goal here is to scale Phoenix to become a global recruitment brand with a strong international footprint. As well as focusing on business growth, I still work closely with our many clients to develop innovative and creative recruitment solutions to help scale their businesses. 

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

As a scaling company, our biggest challenge is finding the right talent for ourselves which will allow us to keep expanding and more importantly, keep delivering the highest quality of service to our clients and candidates globally. The War for Talent doesn’t just apply to our clients — it’s certainly a real challenge for us at times also. The other side to this challenge is keeping the best talent in your business, we are very focused on creating and maintaining a collaborative and fun working environment for our employees. This can be a challenge when opening new teams, new offices and adding headcount quickly but so far we have managed to do so! 

How do you keep your team/ staff motivated?

Myself and Ruth Lyndon, my co-CEO, pride ourselves in our positive, collaborative and inclusive company culture.

This environment allows for our team to grow with us and helps us foster motivation. We’re constantly engaging with Learning and Development personalised training at all levels of the company and we use a specialist data analytics platform to provide real-time insights to all our staff to ensure they are using their time in the most efficient and effective way which motivates our team to invest more time spent building relationships with our clients and candidates.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

One of the main challenges Phoenix identified in the recruitment industry was how it is often a transaction-focused, non-consultative, inconsistent experience. Ultimately, Phoenix was created to address these weaknesses in traditional recruitment. Therefore, a large percentage of our senior management are professionally qualified in their spaces in their verticals. This industry experience means we are a recruitment firm with an elevated level of service that isn’t often seen in this sector, thanks to the deeper understanding these qualifications provide. 

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

The greatest change in our sector in recent years has been the move to a more remote or flexible work environment. This was by necessity during COVID-19 and created a lot of challenges for many recruitment firms who were struggling to adapt to a more remote, trust based working environment. We, as a business, essentially grew up during this period and invested in the latest cloud based software and phone solutions which has meant we can scale quickly and maintain a working flexible arrangement for our staff. 

For many professionals their focus has shifted from financial to non-financial rewards such as working from home, flexible/part-time working hours, a diverse leadership/senior management team, stronger annual leave entitlements, increased clarity on career progression, etc. In many cases this is resulting in a change of employer. However, savvy employers are increasingly accommodating such a shift in focus to both retain and attract talent. 

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

I believe recruitment should take a long-term and consultative view, operating on the basis of relationships being the driver of lasting, sustainable success and growth for the business. The current transactional approach of agency recruiting is no longer fit-for-purpose for the needs of innovative, ambitious companies in today’s world of work. 

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

Yes, both from hiring internally and on behalf of our clients. Certain areas in particular are feeling the talent squeeze. Across our specialist sectors, demand is currently very high, and in many cases outweighing supply, for experienced Corporate/M&A and IP/Tech lawyers; experienced compliance and risk professionals from FinTech and Asset Management sectors and with prior Central Bank approval, Newly-Qualified Accountants, and Insolvency & Restructuring professionals and on the TechSales side, Marketing automation specialists and experienced Tech Account Executives. 

How has Brexit affected you?

Most companies that have offices in the UK have felt the effects of Brexit. In the case of Phoenix we launched our first international office in London amid the throes of Brexit with the assistance of Emir Allen, a well regarded recruitment professional in London with a track record working with top tier Financial Services and Investment Banking brands across the UK and Europe. 

Yet, from our inception, we have consistently invested in the latest technology that allows us to deliver key hiring projects for our clients across the globe, regardless of the political climate. Our tech stack is fully cloud-based, fully mobile and can be accessed by our consultants anywhere in the world. 

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

Phoenix was born just before the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have been to our advantage. Phoenix had no legacy system to slow us down and has always had technology to support hybrid and remote working. This being said, despite the impact of COVID 19, we managed to defy market trends and quickly became one of the fastest-growing brands across Ireland & the UK.

Creating a collaborative and energetic culture has been difficult at times due to COVID restrictions; however I am glad to have everyone back in all our offices on a hybrid basis. 

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

I’m quite competitive by nature so I’m constantly looking for ways for us to be more efficient, achieve greater results and provide an even better experience for our customers. Personally, I don’t have a strict definition of success but I do measure myself and the business on where we have come from and where we are now – constantly pushing ourselves to be better, smarter and ultimately create an amazing brand that people love to work for and be part of.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

As well as pitching many of our start-up clients to potential candidates, we also have to sell the Phoenix story to potential clients. I believe you have to be able to tell the story of why you do what you do, paint a vision that is easy to understand but inspiring to listen to and then lastly and most importantly, it’s all about execution. If I were to give any advice it would simply be to create a plan, be flexible but always execute on what you say you’re going to do.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We just announced our most recent fundraising round, which has been very exciting for myself and the entire team. We were lucky enough when initially establishing Phoenix to have an investor that allowed us to grow and this same investor is now backing us again having seen our growth and we raised one million euros to support further growth in the future.  

On top of our recent raise, in order to further strengthen expansion plans, Phoenix has recently put together a board of advisors. Members of this board include Philip Gardiner, Director at Foresight, and Giles Daubeney, the ex-global Deputy CEO of Robert Walters, one of the world’s leading recruitment brands. I am very much looking forward to stepping into this new phase for the company. 

What’s next for your company?

We are rapidly expanding and my goal is to keep this momentum going.

The team has grown to 40 employees since inception, but the aim is to reach 250 by 2025, across Ireland, the UK and the US. 

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Phoenix will be expanding into the US by the end of the year, in addition to growing its footprint in the UK. Additionally, a goal of mine is for the company to maintain and further develop the amazing company culture which is central to all our growth plans – without a positive, collaborative and inclusive culture, none of Phoenix’s goals would be possible.

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