Live and Kicking
Queen’s Award winning specialist recruiter for the audio, music, broadcast and corporate AV technology sectors, Interfacio, discuss the challenges of recruiting in a fast changing market.
Before the pandemic, the international recruitment market was the focus for Interfacio. But as borders closed, the curtain came down on live entertainment, sports and hospitality events were postponed, and the company’s plans for continued growth during 2020 were put on the back burner. Despite the business stalling temporarily last year, the firm has recently been recognised for its pre-pandemic achievements, winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade following six continuous and significant years of growth in its non-UK business which makes up over 80 per cent of the business.
Interfacio was founded by Richard Wear in 2002 as a specialised global recruitment and search service business, serving the media entertainment technology sector. Its early focus was almost entirely on professional audio and music technology, but that expanded into other related areas including the broadcast, lighting, consumer audio and AV markets. Isabelle, a former client of the company, joined the business in 2012 to focus on building the European business and this year she has launched the inTeams suite of Bespoke Performance Coaching Programmes to support individuals and teams in their professional development.
As Richard explains, Interfacio was always intended to be an international-facing enterprise: “We didn’t start with the UK and then branch out,” he says, “we focused on the global market and the need for an international recruitment service that could work in all the main markets around the world. The business was launched at specialist trade shows in California and Frankfurt and our first placements were in Australia for a Chinese owned company and a hiring manager in LA. So providing an international solution has always been our USP.”
In 2015 Interfacio added a specialist research and development engineering capability which focused on critical engineering hiring in Europe and the USA, and most recently in 2018 Interfacio strengthened its Asia Pacific recruitment and search services with the region now making up approximately one fifth of the company’s non-UK business.
Richard is quite clear when it comes to the secret of Interfacio’s success: it’s people. “We are all industry professionals first, who have taught ourselves to be recruiters for the clients we partner with. Every new member of the team has led an evolution of the company.
“We’re not ‘typical’ recruiters,” adds Isabelle. “We all come from the specialist markets we recruit into. We were all part of those industries – understanding the passions and needs of a specialist AV or entertainment technology manufacturer. We have a genuine understanding of the vertical market, the niche, the culture, and what manufacturers and brands are looking for. That makes our whole offering unique.”
Over time, much of the business landscape has changed for Interfacio and the companies it supports. There is now much more focus on investor accountability, longer term strategy and growth and return on investment – particularly when it comes to recruitment. “We’ve grown up in parallel with our industry’s evolution,” says Richard. “When I started, nobody in our market was doing anything like this. The sort of recruitment and executive searches commonplace in large, blue-chip companies didn’t seem to quite gel with the industry we know and serve. So, the idea in the beginning – and it continues to be our ethos today – was to design and deliver our service in a way our customers will appreciate, and to always add value as talent search professionals.”
Richard and Isabelle both acknowledge the difficult issues facing an industry that has had a tough time during the Covid pandemic – particularly in the live entertainment and hospitality sectors. However, the whole team is now seeing the tide turn in business, and there has been a marked increase in recruitment activity over the last few months. Richard continues: “There’s a clear opportunity now for businesses to invest and this means hiring. There is talent around now that might otherwise have been exceedingly difficult to find – that gem of an R&D engineering leader, that star sales director, or that corporate communication specialist.”
While this new energy in the market is a positive sign for the business, it has been the firm’s commitment over the long term to build its reputation as expert recruiters in its niche markets that is behind its recent success. As Richard explains: “Our specialist team of consultants are internationally recognised for their expertise in specific markets and they can often be found touring trade shows, supporting student initiatives, and networking wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.”
With a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade now under its belt, there’s no doubt that Interfacio’s expert-led global approach has been effective. The award pays tribute to a period of strong continuous growth in the company’s international business and Interfacio is one of only 205 organisations nationally – and one of just three recruitment businesses – to be recognised this year. The Queen’s Awards themselves are recognised as the most prestigious business awards in the UK.
“The award is something that is hopefully recognised by our clients around the world as a real testament of our achievements, global reach and capability. It’s also a fabulous badge of honour for new clients who might not even know about or have worked with us yet,” Richard commented.
For Isabelle, the Queen’s Award is not just an achievement for clients to recognise, but a moment to be proud of the work and the creativity that has led to it. “There is a deep pride,” she says. “We’ve all contributed massively to this sustained growth and there is a great sense of achievement. For me, personally, it’s significant because I’m French and though I’ve been living in the UK for nearly 30 years, I’ll always be French. That has not been easy, but I married in the UK and made my career in the UK, and this is a pinnacle that, in many ways, rewards and acknowledges that journey.”
20 years and counting
Richard and Isabelle are rightly proud of Interfacio and its success. The Queen’s Award recognises the business’s recent growth, but the company itself has experienced significant change over the almost 20 years it has been recruiting people into roles around the world. “A lot has changed since we first started, particularly in recruitment itself,” says Richard. “LinkedIn, which didn’t exist in 2002, for example, has gone from being a slightly niche networking tool to a central pillar in the recruiting mix. Larger companies have invested in in-house recruitment teams, and the words ‘talent acquisition’ are everywhere now. I think our sustained growth reflects how we’ve tracked those changes and have remained relevant and valuable.”
Acknowledging the company’s diverse network of clients, Isabelle adds: “As well as our fantastic team, for this award we’d also like to thank the businesses that have worked with us over the years and recognise it as a partnership. We collaborate with the CEO or CTO, with the head of HR, with the hiring manager, and with administrators who often take care for the day-to-day interactions. We’re a voice at the table that’s here to help and we have the insight to think strategically about the right way through any hiring challenge. That’s the formula that seems to have worked so far. Long may it continue!”