Cornwallis Elt are thrilled to announce the opening of our second site in Birmingham!
We spoke to three members of the Cornwallis team Eddie Cheadle, Principal Consultant, Russell McIntrye, COO, and Andy Johns, Managing Director about what this next chapter in the Cornwallis story means to them and to the business.
Eddie Cheadle has been with Cornwallis for eight years. He started as a Resourcer and worked his way up through the business. Now a Principal Consultant, he’s part of the leadership team and will be heading up the new Birmingham office.
We spoke to Eddie about what made Birmingham the right fit as the second home for Cornwallis. How the new set up will compare and complement the London office. How his experience as an American football player and coach influences his leadership style and the success of Morson’s acquisition of Cornwallis.
“We've been looking into expansion at Cornwallis for several years now. And the honest answer is we do a lot of recruitment in the Midlands. The clients we work with in financial services and professional services are always looking for good talent in the Midlands and in to the North. So it was a logical next step for us to open up an office in Birmingham. The opportunity for us to grow as a business naturally led us into this area.
With everything going on in the world, and in the UK, with the rising cost of living, there's an increasing drive to hire people in what's considered maybe lower cost locations, without the cost of living in London. But more importantly, it is a recognition of the talent around the UK and our clients in financial services over the years have recognized that there are some great people and companies across the country. Competition for talent is so fierce right now and so, having access to talent pools beyond London is really important.
Cornwallis’ London office has four primary desks: investment banking, fund management, insurance and media and my objective here is to replicate that setup in Birmingham.
We already have banking clients in the Midlands, we also have fund management clients here, and we know of insurance firms in this area. We also have a subsidiary who do quite a lot of work in professional services and consulting. There's a big presence of the Big Four consulting firms in Birmingham. With all that going on it would be silly not to boost our presence in this area.
Before I joined the team here at Cornwallis, I was a professional American Footballer which is always a good conversation starter with clients. It is a minority sport in this country, so, people are always interested to find out about it. I played professionally around Europe for many years, before settling in London. I also played and captained the Great Britain team over the course of eight years. The parallels you can draw between sport and business are endless. The leadership and teamwork skills that I can take from that experience and bring into the workplace has set me up well for projects like setting up this new office. I’m still involved with the game; I coach the GB team and I recently went to Milan as a coach. So even now it’s teaching me new skills. Taking people and supporting them as they develop into successful sports people or business people.
The biggest thing that the sport has taught me is that there's no substitute for hard work. Whether it’s in sport or in business you need to put the effort in. Maybe not immediately sometimes it takes years, months, or even decades. But if you persist, you will eventually achieve success. So that's the main thing I've tried to carry over. Whatever happens, the good days and bad days, if you continue to work hard, success will come.
Another big thing I've learned over recent years is that you need a ‘why’. If you know your ‘why’, you can endure any hardships. This applies in sport, where the ‘why’ might be to become the best team in Europe. It's the same in business, you need to ask yourself ‘why are we doing this?’. My ‘why’ at the moment is to make Cornwallis Birmingham a success. Remembering your ‘why’ helps you get through the hard times.
I think that positive attitude has helped me when came to the acquisition. It’s a big change, but we’ve been welcomed with open arms. People often ask us about the acquisition and I tell them that it doesn't feel like we‘ve been acquired. We're the same business, we’re the same people, we just happen to have another team of people up in Manchester who are there to support us when we need it. The support with things like statement of work and supply has made a huge difference. We’ve had some big wins in that area already and it’s great that we can help clients with it. There are also the supporting group services, support with hiring, new resources from the HR team, support with opening a new office. All these things have made the expansion easier and allow us to focus on what we’re good at, which is good quality customer and client led recruitment.”
Russell McIntyre, Chief Operating Officer at Cornwallis gave us his perspective on the opening, the changing work climate following Covid and the importance of having the right people in the right place.
“Why Birmingham? I think that there are two main reasons behind this. First, from a client perspective, our business is in technology and financial services and our clients are a mixture of investment banks, asset and wealth managers, private banks and insurance firms. Obviously, a lot of those are in London, which is our main base. But one of the things we've seen increasingly over the last decade is a move of some areas such as technology and operations into near shoring centres. Businesses are looking outside of London, whether that’s Milton Keynes, Birmingham or as far as Manchester. This has created an opportunity to target some of our existing client base that have set up centres in those locations, particularly for some of the technology and change roles that we recruit for.
That’s the client demand side of things. The second reason is that recruitment is a people business first and foremost, so any kind of expansion or new products and services needs the right people to spearhead them. We’ve been very fortunate our plans of moving to Birmingham coincided with Eddie Cheadle, making the move here two or three years ago.
What we have in Eddie was someone who's been with the business for, I think nearly ten years. He’s a proven leader, not just in recruitment but outside of work too, he’s a real leader of people. We’re incredibly lucky to have such a talented person who we could build the business around. I think that's important because, you can write a strategic plan to set up in New York or wherever you like, but without the right people in place it’s very hard to achieve your aims. You need to have people who understand how the business works, know the subject matter, clients and candidates. Those people are able to embed the Cornwallis values and ways of working in the new setup, I like to call them ‘culture carriers’. If you were just to recruit someone locally who doesn’t know Cornwallis from any other company, it would be much more difficult to build a new office in a way that fits in with the rest of the business.
Following those points through I think it's exciting to be able to offer our clients a service that goes beyond just London. I think it's important as a business, to expand regionally. There are lots of financial centres in the UK, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol, to name a few. If we're able to offer recruitment services across that entire network, it makes us a higher-value supplier.
This is also an exciting opportunity for people across the business. There are going to be new opportunities as we grow, whether it’s geographical or across different product lines. Birmingham is a centre for areas like risk compliance and anti-money laundering. These are some very specific niche areas of operations within the banking community, and a lot of Cornwallis’ success has been about finding niches. So rather than being a generalist I.T. recruiter, we’re about providing talent for change, or business transformation for specific products. I think Birmingham represents a community within the financial services sector of some of those niche areas. For example, tech businesses and e-commerce platforms have moved a bit further afield. I think there's a neat opportunity to target some of these specific areas relevant to our business, which allows us to continue that specialisation.
My last point is that, from a recruitment perspective London is a very over-broked market. We’ve had challenges in finding experienced recruiters. And so, over the last few years, we’ve focused a lot more on homegrown talent, on academies. This approach has been very successful, but it takes time to get those people to the high levels that we were looking for. I’m excited for us to tap into the recruitment talent in Birmingham where the market is a little less crowded.
Finally, we spoke to Managing Director Andy Johns about the changing climate for businesses post-Covid, support from Morson and the opportunity Birmingham presents for the new Cornwallis office to be a great place to work
This move to Birmingham has been high on our agenda since before Covid. It was obvious to us that our clients were moving away from London. Initially, we saw lots of movement to low-cost centres like India or Eastern Europe. However, there are lots of challenges that come with setting up in a new country, travel time and expense, time zone differences and language barriers. Therefore, we’ve seen a refocusing over the last few years to more secondary hubs in the UK, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, etc. We’ve been presented with an opportunity, which has centred around Eddie moving to Birmingham, but also having the support from Morson. Beforehand it would have been a challenge to find an office, get IT set up, to have marketing that could get the word out. Whereas now it becomes a much easier problem to solve, or actually it's not really a problem, we’re able to tap into the resources available to us. For me, this highlights not only a client's opportunity, an opportunity built into the hub, but also demonstrates the value of being part of Morson Group.
I've also just spent an hour wandering around the city and going out for lunch. There are some beautiful buildings here, I can see this being a great place to work, with the bars and restaurants by the canals. This location is going to be good for us to attract talent into the office. It will be fantastic to get new recruiters coming into the environment, learning their trade, going out for team socials, meeting up with candidates, meeting up with clients for lunch, or drinks after work, or coffee in the morning, whatever it might be. I think Birmingham has some great opportunities for both the business and our people.