Quick Fire 10: Jonny Plews

The second in our series on Recruitment leaders sees Jonny Plews tell us about his recruitment past, and what the future has in store for himself and Oliver James Associates.

Jonny joined Oliver James Associates in 2003 as associate consultant. He is now a Board Director and has been leading the business’s APAC operation since its inception in 2011.

1. How and why did you get in recruitment? 

After studying Maths at university, I took the natural and rather uninventive route of becoming an accountant. After 6 months in the job, I quickly realised that it just wasn’t for me.

Thankfully, I was given a mini project outside of accountancy which involved phoning up a selection of the firm’s clients to communicate a new business proposition. It was at that point that I discovered I was much better speaking with people rather than labouring over numbers.

Through a mutual connection I met with Oliver Castle (our group MD) about a recruitment role. I knew immediately that I’d found both a business and role that connected my skills and ambitions.

2. What motivates you to get up in the morning?

Any recruiter would be lying if they said that they weren’t motivated by money . However, as I’ve matured and my responsibilities within the business have grown, my viewpoints on this have actually changed somewhat.

These days, I’m motivated by the opportunities of growing our APAC business, the challenges that opening offices in new locations brings and hiring great talent to succeed with us on our OJ journey.

3. What’s one thing that’ll keep you up at night?

Apart from my toddler, it would be the ‘politics’ of business. I’m a straight forward, transparent person though unfortunately the world of business does not always follow that pattern.

4. What are the key differences between recruiting in the UK and HK?

There are multiple differences between the two markets. The UK is very transactional whereas Hong Kong (and East Asia in general) is far more relationship driven.

The recruitment sector is more advanced in the UK. This has its benefits but also has its downsides.

The benefit in Hong Kong is that the quality of competition is typically much lower because there hasn’t been a comprehensive training programme in place for most recruiters throughout their career. One downside however is that companies may not understand the extent of the service that we, as a recruitment firm, can offer.

5. What do you love most about recruitment?

Just like any sales job, recruitment has its highs and lows. The highs? Finding that needle in a haystack candidate, helping people find their dream job and doing great deals.

6. What’s your favourite thing about living in HK?

Hong Kong is a great place to live and work so it’s hard to give just one favourite thing! If I was going to mention just a few I’d say the weather, convenience, travel, tax and constant buzz in the city.

7. What would you be doing if you weren’t a recruiter?

I’d like to say a golfer… but I’m not good enough!

8. What’s your 5 year plan?

To continue to grow the Asia Pacific presence of Oliver James Associates and if I do my job well enough – to play golf!

9. What do think will be the biggest challenges to your business in the future?

The trickiest challenge in the APAC market is staff retention. Very few firms in Hong Kong ever make it past the 30 to 40 staff stage. With Oliver James Associates, I really believe our foundations are strong enough to easily pass that number.

10. What productivity hacks do you use and what do you promote?

I’m all for anything that increases productivity, but I’m a big believer in attitude. If you’re coming in to the office with energy, enthusiasm and a decent plan for the day, every day, you’ll definitely have a highly successful career in recruitment.

Thanks to Jonny Plews from Oliver James Associates for his time. Check out their Hunted profile now for live worldwide opportunities.