To get to know the HR Heads team better, we’ve launched an internal Big Interview series! The first in the series features Chris Pestell, Senior Recruitment Manager across London & the Thames Valley.
Tell us about the professional journey that led you to your current role as Senior Manager for HR Heads.
I got into recruitment quite late in my career having spent time travelling and living in Cornwall. Starting in London recruiting finance professionals with a FTSE 250 business, I rose through the ranks to Senior Manager over the space of 6 years before relocating to Manchester in 2012. I joined a business with the remit to develop their interim finance division, growing the team to 5 consultants and once successful, I took on the management of their permanent team as well.
I was then offered the opportunity to lead a team focusing on Senior HR recruitment which I gladly accepted because I was keen to try a different sector. I loved the HR sector, and I found there was more emphasis on building relationships – an aspect of the role I both enjoyed and excelled at. I had a great few years working across the North and London, but the family and I craved to be closer to the coast (more my decision as I am a keen Surfer) and we decided to relocate to Poole.
After relocating, I worked locally on the South Coast initially focusing on HR recruitment before accepting an opportunity to focus on HR Executive and Retained Search assignments with Executives Online. I had a great 5 months at EO and won Consultant of the Quarter. Unfortunately, the UK team was made redundant in January 2019 – which came as a bit of a shock! I knew I was keen to continue in the HR space, I’m passionate about recruiting senior HR leaders across London, Bristol and the South Coast. I had several offers on the table, but chose HR Heads; Jen and I have similar ideas on how we want to shape the senior HR/Exec Search offering and I am excited for what is to come.
What does the average working week in the life of Chris look like?
The primary focus of my role is to grow and develop the London and Thames Valley market for HR Heads and my time is split between Winchester, London, Reading and working from home. We believe to truly understand the people we represent we have to meet them; so I am out of the office attending those meetings as much as possible.
What is your favourite thing about working at HR Heads?
I love being given the opportunity to do a really great job, to meet exciting HR professionals and provide a truly value-add service. Being able to do this within the very grown-up environment that HR Heads is, gives me the flexibility to be there for my young family through the week as well – and this is really important to me.
Describe your personal self in 3 words.
Passionate, Driven, approachable
What does success mean to you?
I’d consider myself really successful if I was known as the leading HR recruiter and trusted advisor across the London and Thames Valley regions.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Play the long game, and the grass isn’t always greener! I’d also tell myself to move to the coast much sooner than I did!
How do you achieve work / life balance?
Personally, my goal is to blend work and life together so that they complement each other.
9-5 hours do not really work in recruitment and I believe if you find a job you love, it becomes part of your life. HR Heads gives me great flexibility as I tend to work later in the evenings when the kids are in bed. If I need to go to the gym or event surf at lunchtime I can because I can make up the hours later. I also love meeting people and building relationships and I don’t see as work but more about meeting great and interesting people.
What qualities do you value most in people?
Honesty and Trust.
The best place you’ve ever visited?
Two places; Hossegor in south west France, and the Maldives – I enjoyed a surfing boat trip there!
What’s your greatest professional success?
Winning an award for Top Team whilst also being the second most successful consultant during my first ever Recruitment role.
What are you currently reading?
Barbarian: Days a surfing life by Will Finnegan and Heroes by Stephen Fry.
What’s your hidden talent?
My not so hidden talent is surfing, but I do cook a good curry!
If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes, whose would they be?
Kelly Slater – 11 time world surf champion and still competing at 46! Failing that…Theresa May – I might be able to move the Brexit negotiations forward!
What’s your signature drink?
Who or what always makes you laugh?
My kids, Harley and Seren.
WWE and the Rock.