SME Magazine catches up with Anouska Mond and Judy Ingber, childhood friends from Manchester who changed careers to set up recruitment company The Office Club. Anouska spent 12 years as an actress until realising her dreams weren’t being fulfilled while Judy moved back to London from Australia to work in recruitment after ten years in PR and communications.
What is The Office Club?
Judy: The Office Club offer a bespoke recruitment service, specialising in Office Support, HR, finance and sales search, across a variety of industries. We operate across the UK with our primary markets being in London and Manchester and we provide a personalised recruitment service which is hands on, focused and efficient. The team have over 20 years combined professional experience in other areas – me in PR and Anouska in acting and so, as the two co-founders, we do not have a typical recruitment background which we see as an advantage. We have a different approach to other recruitment agencies, focusing on using emotional intelligence, an agile approach and a tailored service where we really get to know each client and candidate in depth.
How did the decision to start The Office Club come about?
Judy: There is a lengthy back story involved but to keep it succinct … Anouska and I found ourselves living together and both working in new recruitment roles for different companies. After working in these roles for a few years we felt that there was something missing for both of us and we believed there was an opportunity for us to create our own company, that brought to life our untraditional recruitment backgrounds and our fresh approach.
This was all rather unexpected as we had both undertaken a career change at the same time, but clearly it was meant to be, some might say serendipity. Recruitment was a new career for both of us, Judy had a 10-year career history working in PR agencies and Anouska was a successful actress, this combined with the recent years we had both spent in recruitment agencies meant we had so many transferable skills between us which we know are perfect for the industry. Essentially we had a lot of energy, drive and ideas to create a business for ourselves where we could help people every day.
What have you found the biggest challenge to changing careers and setting up a business?
Anouska: The biggest challenge has been learning how to be patient. In the beginning, we wanted everything to be immediately set-up and organised, such as finding the perfect new office and deciding which suppliers to use for various company needs. Everything was rush, rush, rush and for the first six months we found ourselves completely exhausted. Now that we are established, we have realised that not everything needs to be achieved by tomorrow and we can take our time when deciding on bigger organisational decisions. Our business is so important to us and yes, we have to work to tight deadlines to meet our clients’ needs but equally it’s about taking the time to think clearly, to reflect and to not act on immediate instinct. I think the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
Why do you feel there was a gap in the market for a new kind of recruitment agency?
Judy: We set up The Office Club after seeing a gap in the market for an agency that uses emotional intelligence at its core. Our team pride themselves on genuinely listening to what clients and candidates are looking for with their job searches. Our motivation is to run a consultancy that focuses on helping people. We are on the opposite path to so many other recruitment agencies who treat the job as a ‘numbers game’, with little care or real attention to the people they are servicing. We also focus on being innovative in our methods and believe that personality fit is just as (and often more) important than technical skills and industry experience.
How do you manage working with a close friend?
Anouska: It honestly is an amazing experience. We depend on one another and are going through this journey together which makes it so much more enjoyable. What is great is that no two days are the same. Sometimes we are in the office together, or one of us is out at client meetings for the day and the other is focusing on meeting candidates or attending a network event. There is always diversity which keeps the dynamic interesting for us both. Obviously as best friends we can sometimes “butt heads” but we know that if that happens it’s usually soon forgotten. We are dedicated to making this a long term success and we feel lucky to be partners in our venture.
How are you planning to grow the business?
Anouska: We have some exciting plans coming up and we are celebrating milestones too. We have just celebrated our first anniversary and moved into our fantastic new office in May. At the moment, we have two consultants working with us and we have just hired our third team member. We envisage having a team of 15 in three years’ time. We want this business for life, so we will never stop trying to make it flourish. Like other small businesses we like to believe that the world is our oyster, and there are incredible opportunities to be had as long as you believe in yourself and have the ability to work hard, which is exactly what we are doing. The best part is that we are enjoying every single second of it together.