My First Job - John Pearce, Chief Officers Group
PUBLISHED: 00:33 28 June 2013
Recruitment expert John Pearce, founder of Chief Officers Group, looks back at the lessons he's learned
What was your first job?
I used to do anything I could as a youngster to earn money, from car-washing to selling programmes at the local flower show. My first proper job was at Debenhams in the summer before going to Manchester University to study management sciences. I worked with the lads on the loading bay, shipping goods in and out, and I had a long spell on the sales floor in the menswear and shoe departments.
What lessons did it teach you?
The job was great as it meant I had to quickly get on with all sorts of experienced people doing lots of different jobs around the store and, even more importantly, it put me in direct contact with customers. It taught me the importance of customer service and people skills and I realised that if people like dealing with you, they come back. A can-do approach and some simple courtesies go a long way.
How has your career progressed?
After graduating I decided I needed another qualification (something I’ve subsequently found not to be true) and spent four years attempting to become a chartered accountant at Arthur Andersen. The work was great but the exams weren’t. I learned a lot though as I worked with a group of very high calibre people, and the customer-service ethic continued with a very diverse client base.
I realised I knew a fair bit about finance and was good with people, so I entered the world of financial recruitment. Fast forward through four employers in 15 years and I have now started a business of my own, Chief Officers Group. I have backing from wealthy supporters who I’ve helped along the way and who believe the businesses an exciting proposition with an international growth plan.
What do you enjoy about your job?
My career in recruitment has been fabulous. Over the years I have met and placed a large number of board directors into interesting situations and many of them have gone on to become very wealthy as a result.
I love meeting people, learning from them and helping them out. More than anything, I love the feeling of a job well done. I usually need to move fast as I often work with deal situations when a company’s ownership structure is about to change, so it’s also a very dynamic environment.
What’s next for you?
I love the international aspect of my job and now more than ever the world of business is a global affair. So I’m already looking to hire more staff in London and to open new offices in Germany and Hong Kong, to help connect people across borders.
What advice would you give to others?
Work hard and be genuine. People know if you’re putting on an act and they don’t like it. At the end of the day the customer is king, and they probably know a lot more than you do.
Qualifications are important but the way you deal with people is more important. Relationships are everything, so network in your own field like crazy. I firmly believe that people buy from people they like, and if you can get this right they will do so over the long term.
And finally, in business, think global.