At the beginning of this year, Lewis Trow received his official title of Client Development Director so we've decided to take a look at his journey and how he came to be where he is today.
What's your story? Where did it all begin for you?
Before I joined First Recruitment Group I had no previous recruitment experience, I wasn’t driving at the time and I was still living with my parents. I was working for a well-known Energy company collecting debt from businesses, and was metaphorically treading water, as it didn’t given me the motivation I needed to develop a career. One of my friends was working at First at the time, and mentioned that I might have the right personality for recruitment, suggesting I come down for an interview. I agreed, but I found the interview process difficult, as back then I didn’t have the confidence I now have. They eventually decided to offer me the role as a Trainee Recruiter back in April 2010, in their HSE recruitment division.
Starting the role I soon realised that this kind of role suited me perfectly. The interaction with clients and candidates was a real buzz, and the busy target-driven environment was exactly what I needed to excel, in a vibrant office environment. I worked hard to learn about the recruitment industry, and was soon promoted to a more senior role, which I was very proud of. Between Nick Catterall and myself (after a member of the team left the business), we were bringing in around £1M worth of business in our division, which was also a great feeling, knowing that our hard work was paying off. Following Nick’s departure to Australia to work at our office in Perth, I spoke with our CEO, John, and he gave me the confidence to take on the HSE division myself. I worked to develop the team further by bring in fresh, enthusiastic people to the team, such as Stephen Clarke who is still with the business to this day.
At the beginning of 2015 the Oil & Gas market suffered, and as it was a huge part of our business, we needed to diversify the business to more of a client focus. I was developing my own client base and I realised how much I enjoyed working with our clients, and getting them the best possible results. This is when my focus within the business shifted and my role was changed to Client Development, working with both new and existing clients. Earlier in my career I had learnt a lot from Tony Fallows, who was part of the Client Development Team, taking me to meetings and helping me to learn the ropes. I’m thankful for his influence as this meant that when I was pushed into the spotlight, so to speak, I had good solid sales skills that I could build on.
The more I became invested in the business and focused on its growth, the more I believe my efforts were noticed, and so as a result, at the beginning of this year, I was officially promoted to Client Development Director, alongside Nick Catterall. I was newly married, finally learned to drive, and looking back to when I started, I feel so proud of how far I’ve come. It has been a steep learning curve, but that’s why I love working at First so much. They embraced my potential and gave me opportunities to grow and develop, which has ultimately helped me achieve so much in a short space of time.
What challenges did you face along the way?
This might sound strange, but the main challenge I’ve faced has been the promotions. Starting in a trainee role, developing friendships, and then being put in charge of a team that may still see you as “the trainee” was hard for me to deal with at first. I wanted to fit in and please everyone, but when you enter a more senior role, that’s not always possible. I’ve had to take a step back and restructure myself to focus on being more of a role model for someone to look up to and aspire to, rather than a pal. That doesn’t mean I’m not still friends with the people, but I’ve learned that I need to grow up a bit, and set a more positive example.
What has been your biggest achievement/highlight of your career so far?
I think the biggest achievement for me is seeing people I have brought into the business progressing into more senior positions. It makes me feel like I’ve personally achieved something in knowing they’re making a difference to the business. When I started at First it was a very successful business who were going from strength to strength. After a few years we hit difficult times due to the markets crashing but being a part of helping the company to restructure and continue its success again is a real achievement too. I think it truly shows that hard work, by everyone involved in the business, does pay off.
What's your favourite thing about working at First?
This is quite an easy one for me to answer – the opportunity to develop. No matter what level you are at in your career at First, there is always an opportunity for you to progress and take the next step in your career. I’ve experienced this first hand having started off as a Trainee Recruiter and now, as a result of hard work and commitment, I am a Client Development Director. I also love the people who work here and I have formed strong friendships. There’s a great atmosphere in the office which makes it easy for me to put in the extra effort.
What's on the cards for the future of your career?
That’s a tricky one, and one I’m struggling to give an answer to due to the fact that I have progressed quite a lot in a short space of time. I’m very happy with my role currently, and I want to see how far I can progress in it, but maybe one day I will take on the role of Managing Director… who knows?
Last question... If there's one piece of advice you could give to someone starting out in their career, what would it be?
My theory is that you get out of a job what you put in, and I strongly believe that’s especially the case in recruitment. I think in order to be successful and develop your career, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing. That would be my biggest piece of advice… to care. Care about the business you are working for, care about your career and where you want to be in 5/10 years’ time, and care about your colleagues as they are the ones that are going to help you succeed. The truth about working in recruitment is that there are a lot of knocks that come with it so another major piece of advice would be to celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small because they are all important.