As finance and operations director of IT recruitment specialist Catch Resource Management, Rose Clarke is passionate about the importance of building long-term relationships with clients and candidates alike.
The consultancy specialises in ERP recruitment, specifically within the NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and JD Edwards marketplace. Following a successful management buyout a year ago, Catch’s most recent turnover was an impressive £15.5 million and, with operations in Farnham and Bournemouth, it works for global corporations across the UK, Europe/Middle East and into the US.
For Clarke however, the technology sector isn’t where she expected to find herself.
“I wanted to be a primary school teacher, but I didn’t get good enough exam results to go to college. I didn’t know what else I wanted to do, so my mother – who was very wise – sent me to learn typing skills and I worked for a local manufacturing company in the shipping department,” she said.
“When they implemented ERP software I became heavily involved and was very lucky because the project managers spotted I had an aptitude for it. They sent me on a computer programming course and that’s where my IT career began.”
It was also where she was first introduced to Philip Barker, founder and now managing director of Catch, who headhunted her to join the ERP consultancy he was recruiting for.
Frustration at the “poor” service received from recruitment agencies as the business sought to expand, led to the launch of Catch in 1999, and since then the consultancy has gone from strength-to-strength.
“We have always focused on having good people who can build strong relationships,” continued Clarke. “We have a very low staff turnover, which is pretty impressive in recruitment, and I think it’s because as directors, we love coming to work, and we want to reflect that in our environment and how we look after people.
“Recruitment means working long hours so we try to balance that and be flexible, I absolutely believe if you create that culture, then you will get it back twice over from your people.”
When it comes to women in business, Clarke is an advocate of what she calls “real equality” as opposed to simply a box ticking exercise, saying: “We always want to encourage women but I believe it should be about the person, their skills and ability to do the role, not their gender or colour.
“As a woman in IT, I came up against challenges, especially when working on a helpdesk where one minute you can be speaking to the warehouse staff and the next to the finance director.
“You have to be very quick to earn their respect and I got past that by proving myself. I think if you can do that, then whether you are male or female, the rest will follow.”
Supporting Catch is Barclays and Clarke is full of praise for relationship director Eleanor Thomson and her team: “We have a really good account manager, she knows our industry and helps us plan by looking at creative ways to use our money. They have always been supportive and have given me confidence in my role, which has really helped.”
With the Brexit deadline looming ever close, Clarke says the future for Catch is looking bright – earlier this year it enjoyed three months of its best-ever sales – and, with many organisations looking to take on permanent staff rather than contractors, she says it’s a candidates’ market.
“Good people are in so much demand and that’s where our skills in relationship-building are proving so successful,” she said. “We know the people and the personalities, who is in the market and when they will be available. It’s not just about the skills; we take time to visit businesses, to understand their culture and we know who will fit where – that makes a big difference and it shows our clients that the service we provide really adds value.”
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