Shaper: Logan Naidu

Show aired on 26th November 2016

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was the New Century Jazz Quintet with Bird In Hand. Good morning this is Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM. Thank you very much for joining me. Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and very luckily for you we put right alongside them someone who is shaping the world of business and we call them a Business Shaper. I am really pleased to say my Business Shaper today is Logan Naidu; he is the founder and CEO of Dartmouth Partners and they are a recruitment business who focus on the professional service world and fast growing companies and they are pretty trail blazing in their own right. You are going to be hearing lots from the young man in front of me right now. In addition to hearing from Logan, you are going to be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then we have got the music and we have got some brilliant stuff today including Harold Lòpez-Nussa, Louis Prima, BB King and this from Yana Bibb.

That was Yana Bibb with Bessie’s Advice and that’s Eric Bibb’s daughter and a bit of new music for you hear on Jazz Shapers. Logan Naidu is my Business Shaper today; he is the founder and CEO of Dartmouth Partners, a good name I am going to find out why it is called that in a moment. They are specialists in the world of recruitment which often gets a bad name but I am sure he is going to tell us why it shouldn’t and they focus specifically on the professional service world and also on fast growth companies. Logan in his own right I must add just to embarrass him, has been named and I quote – I am sure this went down well with your kids and your wife as you said it – he is apparently one of the five hundred most influential people in the UK according to the Sunday Times. Thank you very much for coming.

Logan Naidu
We have no idea how they put this list together.

Elliot Moss
I would love to know how any of these lists are put together. Logan, joking aside, tell me a little bit about why you left, I think you started at Birmingham University, you when and did all the usual things that smart people do that aren’t quite sure what they want to do but they know they are going to make a bit of money, you were an analyst at JP Morgan, you went into PWC’s corporate finance team and then you went ‘ you know what, I’m going to set up my own business’. You set up your first business called Cornell Partnership back in 2005, you’ve then gone and sold that and you’ve gone on to create Dartmouth Partners in 2012. Were you always going to do your own thing?

Logan Naidu
I think like lots of entrepreneurs you learn more about yourself as you get a bit older and fortunately for me I learnt quite early on that I wasn’t cut out for corporate life so I think I did a year to the day at JP Morgan because that’s how long my golden handcuffs lasted for and moved to PWC to do the same job for a little bit less money but realised quite early on and I think they realised for me to that coming into a big office environment and a corporate world and being a very small cog just didn’t work for me and I found it very difficult to stay awake in the office let alone be productive so they were kind enough to call it redundancy at the time and I came out in 2003 having had two jobs out of University in three years and not knowing what I wanted to do. I was thinking at the time about potentially going to work for the Church, I flirted with the idea of being a dancer – we won’t go into that…

Elliot Moss
You’ve got a very nice figure may I say.

Logan Naidu
Thank you very much, you should see my hips sway. I got talking to a bunch of recruitment consultants at the time and one of them offered me a job and I joined them very briefly and the thing that I liked straight away was the clear correlation between input and output. You know, you could… having been in a big, big machine where you didn’t know where your work went and you couldn’t see the outputs, recruitments a great industry for seeing if I do X, Y happens and I get Y and for me that was magical.

Elliot Moss
And this thing and I hear it often, I wasn’t cut out for corporate life. Corporate life is full of people who’ve got energy and do their own thing and all that and yet they fit – what was the bit, what was the crunch? Was it just that sense of as you said, being such a small cog but in reality if you didn’t do what you needed to do it wouldn’t matter?

Logan Naidu
I think looking at my temperament I think if you look back on it I was immature. I thought I had it all worked out as most twenty one year old’s do and there is an immaturity to me and then character wise there was a rebellious streak to me as well. I didn’t, you know, I found it difficult to play the game and for someone that had their own ideas you know, not necessarily good ideas but wanted to dance to their own tune and I think if I look back at my childhood that was probably the case even though I would say I was quite a good little boy, it was, you know, almost there and a desire to want to create something from an early stage and age was just, just there.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to find out more about that rebellious streak from my Business Shaper today, Logan Naidu; founder and CEO of Dartmouth Partners, the executive head hunting business, executive recruitment business. Time for some music right now though, this is BB King with Paying The Cost To Be The Boss.

The big bad sound of BB King and Paying The Cost To Be The Boss. Logan Naidu is my Business Shaper, he is the boss today here on Jazz Shapers. He is in the recruitment business, has got his own business and you were talking earlier about why corporate life didn’t fit but I liked your description of it being a bit of a game and as you were talking earlier before you said it I was actually going ‘yeah that’s what it is’ and business life can sometimes feel like a game. What’s it like when you set your own shop up though? Does the game become a lot more serious? Do the consequences suddenly become much more personal and if they do how did you cope with that in the early days?

Logan Naidu
The good thing about setting up your first business when you are twenty six is you don’t have a lot to lose so I was fortunate enough at that point to have very low running costs. I had bought a house with a friend so we were renting out two rooms at the time which meant that our rent was covered by the two rooms so economically there wasn’t a lot on the line, you know, no kids, no family so, which was different to the second time round. You know, so we could just focus at that point on building the business and at twenty six there wasn’t really a strategy you know. I’d set it up with two partners at the time and I think you know, the thing about recruitment and you talk about the industry not having a great reputation there is a low barrier to entry so we had phones, we had PCs and that was it there wasn’t a lot more to setting up a recruitment business and you start making phone calls and see what happens.

Elliot Moss
Does it matter not having a strategy, not having a business plan, not really know where it’s going to go and obviously slightly different for the recruitment business because as you said, it’s phones and PCs and off you go but looking back now, do you kind of laugh a little bit and smile or actually is not having a strategy quite a good way forward when you kick off your own first business?

Logan Naidu
No you look back on it and you think you were stupid to be honest. I think it does matter having a strategy, you need to have a plan and you need to know where you are going and even if the plan is wrong, if it is vaguely in the right direction but to adjust that and have no plan and one of the big lessons learnt with the first business is we had built a business that was reasonably successful but didn’t have a plan and therefore to some extent there was no heart to it, there’s no heart beat in the business and it was directionless, you know, apart from just saying we are going to grow each year, you know in what way are we going to grow you know, with whom, with what resources are we going to allocate. Those kind of questions never really got asked and that ultimately was one of the reasons why I ended up wanting to exit the business.

Elliot Moss
And find out what happened when he did exit the business because he went off and did another thing which is what we are talking about today and a pretty impressive business he has created too. Lots more coming up from Logan and you are going to be hearing all about that. Latest travel in a couple of minutes though and before that, some words of wisdom from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya for your business.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday I meet someone who is shaping the world of business and we call them Business Shapers. If you would like to catch any of the two hundred and thirty or forty people that we happen to have talked to over the last few years, go into iTunes you will find many of them there and your other destination is Cityam.com amongst others. Logan Naidu is my Business Shaper today; CEO and founder of Dartmouth Partners and they are a recruitment business that focus on professional services and fast growth companies. Quite a mouthful but I think I just got through it and ticked the box over there. Logan we were talking before about your, what you learnt from that first time round and what you took in the second time and you said something interesting because people don’t often associate what you said with the recruitment business – you said it didn’t really have a heart that first business. People don’t associate having a heart, having a soul, having a conscience with the recruitment business. Tell me what that meant to you in terms of setting up version two, Dartmouth Partners?

Logan Naidu
Yeah my experience is like everyone else’s is a mixture of professional and personal and I think you know this, in 2010 I was diagnosed with cancer, we had just had a three month old at the time and taking some time out of work, a lot of time out of work but having some time to think about what mattered and if I recovered what I wanted to do. I wanted to create a business with a clear purpose and heart outside it being an economic engine and the first business I think was purely about economics and you know, not that we didn’t do things in the right way, I think the business is still around and you know, hopefully trading well. I am not really in touch with the guys that run it anymore but Dartmouth was designed to be a very different beast and business and the thing that I really wanted to focus on and I think everyone talks about it but it really does matter, is culture and you are right, recruitment has a bad reputation, sometimes rightly so but you know I really do believe this, we have the power to change lives. You know outside of who you marry, what you believe and then what you do for a living takes up more time than anything else. I tell my team that I spend more time looking after my fourth child than I do raising my other three and so you know, having a heart, having a soul to the business is important.

Elliot Moss
Can I ask you, if you hadn’t have been ill and you had cancer as you said, it’s a serious illness and it could have gone the wrong way. If you hadn’t been ill do you think you would have thought about purpose and culture in the way that you did so profoundly? And I know the cancer factor is hard but just honestly were you on that track already or was this precipitated by a life changing event?

Logan Naidu
I think a mixture of both. I think Cornell had grown to a decent size business but you know at the time I was thirty two I think and I already was thinking about the next thing and like most entrepreneurs I was getting a little bit restless and I was already thinking of doing something bigger and better and I guess having banked a bit of money at that point, not enough to retire on but a bit, you know you can start thinking about what business you want to shape and you know, we are not building Apple, we’re not putting a dent in the universe but you know, that thing of what impact can you have with others in the right way – yeah it was definitely on my mind and that would have… the cancer probably accelerated that decision making process because you realise how short a time you’ve got on this planet.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today, that’s Logan Naidu. Time for some more music right now, this is Feria from the young Cuban pianist called Harold Lòpez-Nussa.

That was Feria from Harold Lòpez-Nussa and good it was too. Logan Naidu is my Business Shaper and as I said earlier, if you didn’t catch it though I will tell you again, he is the CEO and founder of Dartmouth Partners and they are doing their own thing to make a dent in the recruitment universe if not in the total universe. I love what you said about the power to change peoples’ lives and I think I would love to hear more about this purpose in action. Tell me a little bit about, so I’ve got clear now that you wanted it to have a purpose and you said culture is important. Just give me two or three elements of what makes Dartmouth Partners, Dartmouth Partners?

Logan Naidu
So I think the one, the crucial difference about what we do is we focus very much on rising stars and future leaders before they’ve actually made it so most search firms will have a top down approach of wanting to focus on you know, very visible CEOs , CFOs etcetera and for us and one of the exciting things is we want to build that kind of network from the ground upwards so we focus initially on graduate recruitments and the brightest and the best coming out of University and then we track those people throughout their careers and help people get now second, third and fourth jobs so we go from approximately zero up to twelve years’ experience and by holding those relationships from what is quite a young age you become less transactional and more like a talent management agency than a pure transaction recruitment business and that’s the bit where you get to really know your candidate and client base and hopefully nurture them throughout their careers.

Elliot Moss
And how many people work in the business now? You’ve got an office in Frankfurt haven’t you as well?

Logan Naidu
That’s right we launched Frankfurt at the start of this year which was our Brexit hedge. We have got thirty five people at the moment.

Elliot Moss
And turnover going up significantly? What kind of growth are you looking at year on year at the moment?

Logan Naidu
So if my numbers are correct by the end of the year we will be averaging 70% compound of growth each year.

Elliot Moss
I mean that’s huge.

Logan Naidu
Yeah I think you know we have had a fantastic start for the first three years, we’ve slowed down this year for a number of reasons, some external so the market has been a bit wobblier for obvious reasons this year but also to some extent you know success came a bit too quickly too fast, we didn’t have the internal processes ready or right and so we have had to deliberately slow down to try and build an internal function so that we can then hopefully go again and my expectations next year we will go again pretty fast.

Elliot Moss
And how are you making sure based on your negative experience of being in a corporate and feeling like a cog that you are thirty five, don’t feel like they are in a big or even small corporate and they are having to follow processes and all those things you just described that are so powerful. How do you ensure that they retain that entrepreneurial spirit that I imagine you want to inculcate?

Logan Naidu
With great difficulty, you know, we made very conscious decisions around not wanting to be just like the competition or wanting to build another recruitment business and the balance of that is obviously we have to learn from the mistakes we make and we have made plenty of them and continue to make plenty of them, adapt, embrace some of the better things that our peers and competitors are doing whilst also making sure that we again you know, remember who we are, why we started the business and going back to basics and you know we give a quarterly update on how we are doing and where the company is going and for me that is a very good refresh on, ongoing back to, you know, right back to basics in a fundamental why the business exists and you know you can get very caught up in the numbers and the growth but we are in the business of dealing with people’s lives and so you know one thing that I really detest about the industry is putting, you know, really trying to force people into jobs that they don’t want and we deal with, largely with people with vast masters than we are so this is a job about educating people, you know we are advocates and evangelists for the businesses we represent but we want to work with businesses who care about their staff and nowadays you know you would be crazy to not do that. You know they are the heartbeat of your business and will remain so despite technology and despite progress and we are the facilitators of that.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with Logan plus we will be playing a track from Louis Prima,
that’s after the latest traffic and travel.

The super upbeat sound of Louis Prima with Jump Jive An’ Wail. Logan Naidu is my Business Shaper just for a few more minutes. I want to cut straight to the chase, you talked really eloquently about that vision that you want your team to feel about the importance of the fact they are changing people’s lives. You focus on that even though there is process that has got to underpin all those things. How would they describe you your team because here you are now trying to ensure your company isn’t the company that you worked for many years ago, I don’t mean the one you set up, I mean way, way back in those big corporate days. What would be the adjective they would use to describe you?

Logan Naidu
Driven.

Elliot Moss
And another one? Give me one more?

Logan Naidu
I think… I am going to give you a couple, driven, encouraging and a pain.

Elliot Moss
Good, I wanted to get that in the bank because I can imagine you are all three and that’s important. Your personal ambition Logan, so you’ve built this company, it’s still in its early days, you are four years in. What is it? Are you looking for an event, are you looking to make this a three hundred and fifty people company? You said the first Cornell when you did it the economic engine was the driver. Now you’ve got something else, you’ve got purpose, you’ve got culture, you’ve also got a great powerful economic engine. What does success look like for you personally? I don’t mean the business, I mean but for you, what makes you happy? What will make you happy about the next few years story of your business?

Logan Naidu
I would like, obviously like the business to grow. I’d like it to be global so as you mentioned we have gone to Frankfurt, we will look to go to other geography’s in the next few years. I would like it to have a great reputation with all the people that we interact with, so people know that if you come and talk to us you will be treated differently to talking to our peers or competitors and having that reputation that’s ingrained, when we started out I often used to talk about being the McKinsey of recruitment and you know not losing sight of that, that’s the aspiration you know, people know whether you like them or don’t like them, or use them or don’t like to use them, McKinsey have a great reputation and building that. You build it person by person, every phone call and every email you send is marketing, either good marketing or bad marketing and I believe that and so you know we were talking earlier on about treating people with respect and dignity you know, going back to this, it might mean a bit more money in your pocket but you really are dealing with people’s lives and whether they are happy at work or not happy at work, that impacts their family life and that has way more meaning ultimately than, than you putting a bit more money in your bank account.

Elliot Moss
Now and talking about money, obviously money is a bi-product of being in a successful business or creating a successful business but for you again just thinking about what really matters in your life, what is it now because you’ve come through the illness, you’ve got your family, you’ve got this business which is really growing. At the end of the day though, what for you really matters?

Logan Naidu
I do think you know, who knows how long I have got left on this planet and you do think about that having had cancer, you know, you go for your check-ups and at those points you never know which way they are going to go and so ensuring that we have a business that is lasting, that lasts beyond me. So do I think I will do this forever, no I don’t think I will do it forever, you know I think I have got more things to come. One of the things I am really passionate about is we have just helped launch a charity called OPERA which is helping teenagers who are not in education, employment or training become employed and there are a million in this country, seventy million globally and I am really keen that we can use our skills that we’ve got and acquired to get that million number down in this country so you know, not just helping successful people become more successful or great businesses become even better. I think this is about having greater impact in society at large.

Elliot Moss
It’s been really good to talk to you and thank you for being so candid as well. Good luck with everything.

Logan Naidu
Thank you.

Elliot Moss
I think it’s fantastic to hear someone who has come back from an illness like that and really made use of it without that sounding a strange thing to say. Just before I let you go though Logan, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it.

Logan Naidu
I have chosen Nina Simone’s version of Sinnerman partly because it’s a fantastic song and I really like it and but the words have meaning, she is singing about the day of judgment and looking for a place of refuge on that day and you know, you’ve interviewed two hundred and fifty CEOs and entrepreneurs and we spend so much of our time being judged by our staff, our peers, our clients and I am not perfect, I get a lot wrong and I guess on my ultimate day of judgment which could come at any time, you know, as a Christian I know that I won’t be like the man in the song running around, that I am safe in the hands of Jesus.

Elliot Moss
Here it is just for you.

Logan Naidu
Thank you.

Elliot Moss
That was Nina Simone with Sinnerman, the song choice of my Business Shaper today Logan Naidu. Fantastic stuff around creating a purpose for a business and in his business as he said it was the power to change people’s lives. I haven’t heard recruitment talked about like that – phenomenal stuff. And also finally very interesting he talked about his legacy being about building a reputation for the name of his business. All absolutely phenomenal. Do join me again, same time, same place. That’s next Saturday, 9.00am here on Jazz FM for another edition of Jazz Shapers. Meantime stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

Logan Naidu

Logan is the founder and CEO of Dartmouth Partners, an award winning recruitment firm. With a unique “Classroom to Boardroom” business model, Dartmouth identifies future leaders and rising stars on campus and tracks continues to work with them throughout their career.  In doing so they help leading companies find and hire the best professional talent.

After three years working in the City for JPMorgan and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Logan co-founded his first business, The Cornell Partnership, at the age of 26. Whilst the business grew successfully, he found that his ambitions differed from those of his co-founders. After a battle with cancer in 2010 which coincided with the birth of his first child, he decided to take the plunge again and Dartmouth Partners was born. The objective was to create a recruitment firm that would operate less like a transactional fee-based business and more like a talent management agency, with the aim of building the most powerful black book in London. With the launch of a Frankfurt office earlier this year, the aim is now widening to encompass major cities globally.

In 2016 Logan was listed in The Sunday Times as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people, having previously been listed in the Growing Business “Young Gun” Awards in 2013.

Follow Logan on Tiwtter @mr_logannaidu.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

I think like lots of entrepreneurs you learn more about yourself as you get a bit older and, fortunately for me, I learnt quite early on that I wasn’t cut out for corporate life

I was thinking at the time about potentially going to work for the Church, I flirted with the idea of being a dancer – we won’t go into that…

The good thing about setting up your first business when you are twenty six is you don’t have a lot to lose

One of the big lessons learnt …we had built a business that was reasonably successful but didn’t have a plan and therefore to some extent there was no heart to it

Recruitment has a bad reputation, sometimes rightly so, but you know I really do believe this: we have the power to change lives

…the cancer probably accelerated that decision making process because you realise how short a time you’ve got on this planet

We want to build that kind of network from the ground upwards, so we focus initially on graduate recruitments and the brightest and the best coming out of university

One thing that I really detest about the industry is, you know, really trying to force people into jobs that they don’t want

You are dealing with people’s lives and whether they are happy at work or not happy at work impacts their family life and that has way more meaning than you putting a bit more money in your bank account.