TV 250 No 102: GCS Recruitment Specialists
Scope: UK & European recruitment for technology, financial services and engineering sectors
Scale: £34.3 million annual sales; staff: 80; offices: Reading, London, Dublin
Founded: 1991 by Chris Bartlett (current GCS chairman)
Head office: Queens Road, Reading, Berkshire
Apart from our own all-sector TV250 listing of leading Thames Valley companies, GCS is ranked by turnover within the UK’s top 150 recruitment companies, is rated as an ‘exceptional three-star company’ by the Best Companies organisation, and included in the 2013 Sunday Times ‘Best 100 Small Companies to Work For’. Such rankings are important achievements, but the successful and rapid growth of GCS is underpinned by a passionate drive for recruitment.
Back in 1996, David Bloxham made his first placement less than five days after starting in recruitment. It was perhaps inevitable that Bloxham would one day find himself the perfect job – the position he now occupies as managing director of GCS Recruitment Specialists.
“From that first placement – which I have to admit was mainly by luck – I just loved recruitment, and have continued to be passionate about it ever since.”
After several years of strong performance and numerous placements, Bloxham was appointed GCS operations manager in 2000. This led to his gaining valuable management and team-leading experience. After a brief time away from the company to gain a greater overall perspective of the recruitment sector, Bloxham returned ‘home’ to GCS as MD in 2008.
“The buzz is still there,” says Bloxham. “I have never liked doing anything as much as recruitment – other than being with my family and watching Arsenal, of course.”
This passion for recruitment is something that Bloxham and GCS founder and chairman Chris Bartlett have shared and encouraged within their company, not least through their creation of the GCS Academy – the first step in their comprehensive professional development programme.
“When dealing with people’s careers it is vital for recruiters to act professionally,” says Bloxham. “After all, we are dealing with one of life’s biggest decisions.”
Illustrating this commitment to career development, promotion from within has always been a priority for GCS. Several Academy alumni have grown into company figureheads and now lead or manage teams across their UK and European-focused offices.
As for what makes GCS stand out as a recruiter, Bloxham explains that one of the company’s greatest USPs is delivering the seemingly impossible.
“We excel at sourcing hard to find candidates, largely due to our vertical business approach to recruitment with each consultant becoming a market specialist in their particular niche and discipline.”
It is this highly-trained and motivated workforce, combined with an ongoing investment in technology, that creates a quality of service whose procedures are underpinned by the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Standard and Investors in People accreditation.
Despite a recent increase in available jobs, the 2013 talent pool has unquestionably been depleted. Bloxham offers several reasons including government immigration restrictions on non-EU candidates, a lack of job-specific education, and the feeling that, in the wake of the recent recession, many do not feel confident enough in the market to take the perceived risk of changing jobs.
Bloxham suggests this lack of skilled workers could lead to increased offshoring of UK projects and he stresses that this could be a major setback for our national economy.
However, Bloxham remains optimistic about the future. “The market looks set to be as dynamic as it was in the mid-late1990s. Good businesses and good people are emerging from the tough times, operating in different ways – it’s an exciting time to be a recruiter.”
Although he discovered a passion for recruitment early in his working career, Southampton-born Bloxham developed his love of Reading at an even earlier stage.
“Studying at the University of Reading was a fantastic experience and led to me wanting to stay in the area. Reading has made incredible progress over the past 20 years since Microsoft’s arrival, to become a central Thames Valley business hub.
“Reading has become the growth centre of Europe, and a place I am passionate about championing. it”
Given this passion, it’s no coincidence that Bloxham is closely involved with the Reading UK CIC, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and, in 2013, became president of the Reading Chamber Council, part of the Thames Valley Chambers of Commerce Group.
As the leader of the vibrant GCS, Bloxham benefits from being part of one of the few businesses that contacts and understands all the region’s business sectors – this perspective, he believes, allows him to be an informed voice for the Thames Valley.
While he admits his higher profile within the region’s business community has not harmed GCS referrals, Bloxham stresses: “The reason I took on the role within the Reading Chamber was because I am passionate about all businesses in this area. Reading has given a lot to me; I want to give something back – with interest.”