Hilary Roberts and HR Consultancy: A Family Business
5 September 2017
What does your family business do?
We are a recruitment company based in Glasgow, recruiting across markets such as Financial Services, Manufacturing & Engineering, HR, Insurance and Accountancy & Finance. We were founded in 1995 and this is a first generation business.
How did you get involved?
I started the business. I was working as a recruiter in the Insurance industry but was often met with stereotypes about women in the industry (particularly when it came to things like maternity leave) so I decided to do it myself.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a vet. Then I wanted to be a teacher. Then I settled on a social worker. So, naturally, I became a recruiter! I think there’s a theme here, though. I feel like my purpose is to help: All of those jobs are designed to help people in particular situations. I really get a kick out of helping people – whether that be helping businesses solve their recruitment problems; getting our candidates a great job or enabling my own staff to realise their potential.
What are you first memories of starting the business?
Asking my dad to borrow the money to start my own business! He agreed, on the proviso that I return the money (with interest) within twelve months’ time. The best part was I was able to pay it all pay within nine months.
What values are important to your family business?
Honesty is the most important; you can’t put enough value on people being honest. Within my family, we are all incredibly honest with each other – sometimes to a fault. Delivering excellence and being passionate about what you do are also important. My parents really held us to a high standard and they always said that if you weren’t going to do something with the right attitude and amount of enthusiasm, you shouldn’t be doing it.
What is the best thing about being a family business?
This is a first generation family business, so it’s hard to answer. I would say that it has allowed me to give opportunities to four family members in terms of work experience. From there, I’ve been able to offer internships to my wider circle of friends and their children.
And the worst?
My husband will tell you that I bring my work home. I never stop talking about the business.
What is the best thing about your working day?
That’s impossible to say. There are so many elements of my job that I love. Each working day is different, anyway.
Is there a next generation waiting in the wings to take over?
The short answer is, I don’t know. If my children were to come in to the business, I would want them to go and earn their stripes elsewhere first. I would want them to get some really vital experience at a high calibre business so that they could understand what makes a company function and how to add value to somewhere. They’d have to earn their position through experience and expertise.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing family businesses?
I think, for many businesses, it’s when you know that they next generation isn’t quite up to picking up the mantle. You have to learn to manage people’s expectations without hurting people’s feelings – especially as, with families, this can have a ripple effect.
What words do you associate with family businesses?
Trustworthy; solid; caring.
What piece of advice would you give someone thinking about joining a family business?
Don’t expect to get a job within a business because you have a family connection. You have to earn your way, arguably more so.
Written By Hilary Roberts