Greg Cherry, MD of Glasgow-based QD Events, on the challenges of recruitment outside of the southeast of England.
I spent a lot of my career working in London and there’s a large talent pool in London. People either fall into the industry or see it as a good avenue for their career development.
Because of the concentration of event companies in the southeast of England a lot of people move around, and it’s easy to move around if you’re a talented individual. The trick for organisers outside of the southeast is to try and look at the talent pool that they have and show people that there is a life outside of that region.
We’re Scotland’s largest exhibition organiser and we have huge growth aspirations, but sometimes those aspirations are tempered by the ability to recruit knowledgeable talent. For certain roles you can look outside the industry but it’s sometimes a case that you want people at certain levels to hit the ground running.
We’ve been quite lucky at QD in our marketing and operations roles and the fact that there are people who have lived and worked in London who are coming back to Scotland.
We’re able to offer them opportunities and a good vehicle for their career growth and development.
We’re changing the way we work in terms of the millennial audience we’re now attracting into the business. Their requirements as part of working are different. If an employer in London has ten candidates all of equal ability and eight are saying, ‘I want to start at midday’, then maybe they are going to go with the two that will do the job. If the talent pool is much smaller then you’re trying to work with people who have different requirements to fulfil the needs of the business.
Work/life balance is one of the things that I’ve noticed [working in Glasgow]. Your commute will be a maximum of half an hour, and it’ll cost you a hundredth of what it costs you in the southeast. The cost of living is cheaper, and salaries are reflective of this, but not to the extent that you’re going to feel that you’re losing out. It’s about getting people to take the risk to move out of London.
Network is everything, so we’re going to encourage people to go and mix with the rest of the industry. QD Events are at every industry event that we can go to. They’re really important to our success, as is the feeling of being part of the exhibition community. That’s what we want to be the experience of coming to work for QD. There are many other organisers outside of London who are quite insular, and that’s what we as an organisation don’t want.