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    It feels crazy to say it, but here we are, celebrating 4 years of Apsida Life Science. We’ve been on an incredible journey the past few years, and as cliché as it sounds, we truly wouldn’t have it any other way. 

    2023 has been an interesting year for the recruitment industry, and it challenged us as Co-founders as well as every single layer of our business. We’re proud to be finishing this year on a high, and will look back on 2023 as the year that tested us, but ultimately allowed us to grow and develop even more, to come back better and stronger in 2024.

    We sat down with our three Co-Founders to reflect on this year, and get under the hood of 2023 as well as talk about the future of Apsida Life Science.

     
    How does it feel to be in business for four years, and what has surprised you the most over the last four years? 
    Ben Pearce, Director & Co-Founder

    Firstly, it feels amazing. The number of things we’ve achieved and seen over that four-year period is insane, especially during COVID which was a tough time. For us, we saw it as a challenge and enjoyed that period as we could be “the underdog” having only incepted the business 6 months prior. We’d also committed to hiring 3 people, and we had a moral obligation where we didn’t want to let those people down. We didn’t know what was going to happen with the market, but we weren’t scared or phased or worried – we just got on with it. 

    Although 2023 has been challenging, we have stabilised in that period. We will make a profit this year which, I think, is an incredible achievement given the number of people that we’ve still got, as we voted against a mass lay-off. We adapted to the change and we adapted our process and our clients, which has paid off.

    The second part of the question of what surprised me the most over the last four years is, that I don’t think you can go day-to-day and not be surprised by something. However, the most surprising thing has been just how difficult it is to build a brand and build a company – even with a decade’s worth of experience.

    What has been the biggest learning as a Co-founder?

    Honestly, where do I start? 

    There’s been so many lessons. I’ve personally learned and developed a lot in this period, and I’d probably say the biggest learning is falling back on our process. When we started our business, we had a “trusted circle”.  We knew what we were going to get with our managers and what they were capable of. We didn’t need to handhold or direct them or tell them what to do because we already had the foundations built!

    However, when we started hiring inexperienced consultants or associate consultants, it was tough. We realised that we had to impart a lot of wisdom to people in a short space of time and get them billing and profitable. So, going back to process – which sounds like a simple thing – we had to ensure that there was a process to ensure the success of those consultants.

    It was also much easier to convey a message to a smaller group of people. So when there were 8, 10, maybe even 15 of us – getting a message out and having everybody on the same page was relatively straightforward. When you get to 30 or even 40 people, it’s more difficult for that message to be continually drip-fed because you’re relying on so many other people to stick to it.

     
     
    How have you managed having 3 Co-Founders?

    You can’t have one person that does it all and is brilliant at all. It just doesn’t work. You need to have aces in places! You need your best people in your best positions. 

    We’ve learned to understand that there can’t be three voices. It has to be one voice from three people. So, focusing and distributing jobs and responsibilities knowing that it’s going to get done is the most important thing.

    How have you maintained morale and motivation from a billing perspective?
    Michael Georgiadis, Director & Co-Founder

    It’s something that has been ongoing for us, but it was different for every individual. I think it’s keeping the message super clear, such as daily, weekly and monthly activities so everybody knows what they need to do to achieve results. 

    This year has been different to last year, where placements came a lot easier for consultants – even juniors with no experience. However, this year it’s been the complete opposite, so maintaining morale using the same methods from the previous year wouldn’t have made sense. 

    Instead, we focussed on setting clear expectations on what they need to be successful in this job, rather than getting bogged down on making a placement. I guess in a way it’s been more holistic and balanced, especially when you go through a period where people are struggling. 

    Recruitment is results-driven, so we’ve taken a step back and assessed how we can measure those results in a tougher market. For example, softer KPIs or metrics, and still looking to reward hard work are just a couple of things that we’ve done. Our KPIs are still as granular as they need to be, they’ve just been adapted to work with the current climate. You have to celebrate the small stuff, it’s imperative from a morale and motivation standpoint. 

    We’ve also leaned into speaking more openly when things aren’t “OK” – whether that’s work-related or in someone’s personal life. Despite the market being tough I think we’ve been able to take a lot of positives from this and come together as a team. It’s been freeing to be able to open up as leaders to the rest of our sales floor instead of pretending that things are ok, and through showing that vulnerability we’ve been able to finish on a high!

    PROMOTIONS AND INTERNAL TRANSITIONS 2023

    PROMOTIONS:

    George Wickington | Promoted to Consultant

    Gareth Stephens | Promoted to Consultant 

    INTERNAL TRANSITIONS:

    Collette Cardy | Transitioned to our Talent Acquisition Team

    How would you sum up the market change over the past year?
    Michael Georgiadis | Director & Co-Founder

    There has been a huge shift in the market, and not just in Life Sciences. A lot of companies have tried to stay afloat rather than grow, which is the opposite of previous years – so requirements have drastically changed. 

    We’ve found that clients are coming to us with questions about the market, which are less about active recruitment and more about retention and their actual talent strategy, whereas before it was about hiring and hiring only. It’s given us the opportunity to consult and offer more than just a typical recruitment service, and the by-product has enabled us to build better-quality relationships.

    Talk about your experience as a billing Director this year.

    I stepped away from billing over the past few months, which was a natural progression so that I could offer more support to the teams, and this will become permanent from next year.

    I’ve always taken the approach of leading from the front and getting the team to learn via osmosis, rather than dictating what people should do – we have a phrase “Do as I say, not as I do”. However, the team does need more of my time so we’ve tried to create a working model which still enables me to be involved with clients. It also ensures that I’ve got a big portion of my time available for coaching and training.

    I’m biased, but if I look at the skill sets that we have as Directors, we have a world-class team who all complement each other. We have strengths in different areas which has enabled us to naturally progress our roles to support the business’ growth. My 

    experience as a billing director, despite it coming to an “end” has been amazing. Of course, it’s been challenging, but I’ve loved it so much. It’ll be strange to step back and be less hands-on with clients, but it also opens up a lot more opportunities for myself and the rest of the team in 2024.

    What are you looking forward to in Year 5?
    Jamie Salmon | Director & Co-Founder

    I think it’s crazy to say year 5, just saying that out loud blows my mind! I’m excited to have more structure internally, which will enable us to maximise all 9 key pillars of success that we need to focus on. 

    I’m also really excited about our growth in the USA. Jon is moving over there soon and we will start making headway with our academy and offering global opportunities internally. We’ll spend some time in Boston training our academy when that’s up and running, so seeing the growth out there will be incredible. This year has been a year of learning what we’re good at, what we need to improve on, and ultimately maximising all of our skill sets. It’s a really exciting time ahead!

     

    How has the culture changed this year?

    Culture change has been a big part of 2023. I think all recruitment leaders would agree that across all markets it’s been a challenging year. We’ve seen a lot of redundancies in our industry, and we changed models within our business so that we didn’t have to lay people off. 

    The by-product of this is that we’ve created even more of a family environment – as we’ve all had to work together to essentially keep the business performing well. It’s a testament to everyone’s character, we’ve got such a supportive team – and that’s enabled our culture (and our people) to come out on top.

    Marketing and internal recruitment efforts for year 4
    What changes were made, what have been the successes and what have been the learnings?

    We’ve invested a lot of time into our marketing and internal talent acquisition efforts, and as a business, we’re learning more and more about the importance of both functions. We’re viewing marketing as a function that supports sales, rather than something that sits separately from the sales floor – which is what we’ve been used to in previous years. 

    From an internal recruitment perspective, we’ve learned that in this market a lot of people have been let go – but that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to “snap them up” immediately.

    Just because you have the capacity to hire doesn’t mean that you should, so instead we’ve focussed on honing our interview techniques as well as drilling down on specifics that we need. In previous years it has been about quantity – because we had a big focus on our academy and building Senior Consultants and Consultants abilities. Now that we have established layers within our organisation, it’s less about how many juniors we can upskill and more about strategic hires that will enable us to take the business to the next level.

    Jamie Salmon, Director & Co-Founder 

    We are thrilled with what we’ve been able to achieve over the past four years. Despite 2023 being our toughest year yet, we’re looking to the future and can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for us.

    The entire Apsida team would also like to extend their gratitude to our invaluable Clients and Candidates. Your support and collaboration over the past 4 years have helped guide our success story to where it is today and something we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the trust that you have instilled in Apsida. Thank you for being an integral part of our journey. 

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