S01E04 – Peter Gillingwater

Looking for the secrets to international expansion, building culture alongside recruitment and the ups and downs of the journey from launch to exit? Look no further

With more than 25 years in technology recruitment and leadership as both a business owner, innovator and investor, Peter Gillingwater joins Brendon and Zoe in the studio to share his secrets for building winning teams and a few recruitment horror stories, of course.

Peter also reveals his top advice for expanding internationally and entering new markets; talks candidly about ambition and work life balance; the importance of culture for expanding businesses and why only around 8% of founders do the whole journey to an exit.

Peter Gillingwater is CEO of Radi8, Managing Director of Nexec Leaders, Business Mentor at London and Partners and UK Chairman and global board member of Kea: New Zealand’s Borderless Nation.


Zoe Clark: Hi. I’m Zoe Clark and this is Without Borders. Today, we’re speaking to Peter Gillingwater, the CEO of Radiate and Managing Director of Nexec Leaders.

Brendon Craigie: Hi, and I’m Brendon Craigie and on this episode, Peter’s going to be sharing his secrets to building winning teams. He’s going to be talking about his top advice for expanding internationally. And finally, what makes Peter run a mile when interviewing.

Peter Gillingwater: My son just turned 18 so he can take me to the pub now.

Brendon Craigie: Nice.

Peter Gillingwater: Hasn’t yet. But I’ve got 20 of his friends turning up on Friday nights to drink my alcohol.

Brendon Craigie: Nice.

Peter Gillingwater: That’s fun. Amy’s, apparently she’s got a about to win another advertising Instagram pitch with a retail brand. I mean she’s just flying, so that’s-

Zoe Clark: What does she do?

Peter Gillingwater: She’s a Semi-pro Skateboarding Model on Instagram.

Zoe Clark: Wow, cool.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: Okay.

Peter Gillingwater: Her handle is Skate Middleton.

Zoe Clark: Skate, brilliant.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: Skate Middleton.

Brendon Craigie: Nice.

Peter Gillingwater: And she’s now got 25,000 followers.

Brendon Craigie: Wow!

Peter Gillingwater: I mean that’s … Yeah she’s the face of Boohoo.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:01:18]

Peter Gillingwater: And the Crescent campaign.

Brendon Craigie: Did you teacher her how to skate?

Peter Gillingwater: Do you know what, I’ve had nothing to do with that. With what’s happened the last four, five years. I’ve just watched back.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Stepped back and watched, yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. Excellent.

Peter Gillingwater: We don’t have a quiet house.

Brendon Craigie: No, brilliant.

Zoe Clark: Less you talk about today.

Brendon Craigie: Wait, I guess Peter you know one of the things you’re heavily involved in is helping people to go international. What are your main bits of advice for any entrepreneurs thinking about going international?

Peter Gillingwater: I think it’s first of all being prepared to work incredibly hard. And realize that it’s gonna be very difficult. And you know you’ve gotta really pay attention to detail. You gotta have the right team around you. You’ve got to have the right resources around you. You know and then you may have a chance.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: But it’s certainly not for the faint hearted. And you’ve also gotta have a global outlook. You got to start thinking internationally. You can’t think like a Brit going on tour or a kiwi coming up for a summer in London.

Peter Gillingwater: This is about being a global citizen.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, no I mean as someone who went to the States to work on a previous business there and grow that, it’s totally, you know like roughly speak the same language. But just in terms of understanding how business works in a different country, it took me like 12 to 18 months to get up to speed. You know and then even then I probably, when I say up to speed, probably still at a massive [crosstalk 00:02:53] disadvantage to anyone else that was there.

Brendon Craigie: That was my biggest learning was actually you needed senior people around you that new the local market. And didn’t matter whatever genius you were in the place that you came from. If you’re up writing in a different market, you know you’re not gonna be able to navigate that by yourself.

Peter Gillingwater: You know there’s cultural nuances as well. You know and those sort of things. What happens in Germany may be offensive in another location, so you have to be very careful.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: You’ve got a lot of experience doing this. I mean how have you seen things change? What is the market like at the moment? Give us a bit of a sense of how things are for companies wanting to come over to the UK in Europe.

Peter Gillingwater: Well certainly you know with the certain US President in place, you know throwing bombs into trade agreements, I think it’s actually a very good thing. Because what it is doing is stirring up people’s mentalities around doing international trade and expansion.

Peter Gillingwater: In fact, I was at an even this morning and their report, this is a US focused event. They are seeing more activity of UK companies looking to enter into the US to do business, and vice versa. And obviously there’s a Brexit effect as well.

Peter Gillingwater: And I think you know what is happening is that people are beginning to sit up and say actually things are changing. It’s not gonna be the same old, same old norm. It’s now a time to maybe be brave. And I think all this chaos and uncertainty is actually causing people to actually think, well actually now it’s time to do it.

Peter Gillingwater: [inaudible 00:04:29] It’s actually bizarrely really quite a good thing.

Zoe Clark: Yeah, interesting.

Brendon Craigie: I mean I guess if you’re trying to build a successful and you can see a lot of runway for your business in a particular market, I mean do you ever encounter business do you think actually why on earth are you thinking about going international? Why don’t you just actually focus on what you’re doing and do a really good job in that local market? And fulfill the full potential of where you are as opposed to going international.

Brendon Craigie: Is there not sometimes the argument just to think this is a distraction?

Peter Gillingwater: Of course. I mean you know that’s what I’m seeing in talking with Australian companies at the moment. You know there was a period of time where they were very comfortable doing stuff on their own markets. Twenty-five million people pretty close in terms of geography and a few time zones.

Peter Gillingwater: And of course, you know they’re getting lots of trade with China. And so you know the economy was very good. And it hasn’t had a recession for more than 30 years. People were living the lifestyle you know, so working pretty hard, going to the beach, having barbecues, but you know things have changed.

Peter Gillingwater: And I think you know individuals are beginning to realize that you can’t necessarily just think locally. And it comes a bit down to ambition, you know what you want to try and achieve. And some businesses should not export. Some businesses should always focus on local markets.

Peter Gillingwater: But if you got something that has global potential, then I question why you’re doing it. If you don’t think that actually let’s do it globally, as opposed to locally.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, I find it … What I find quite interesting is how much you touch on it, ambition. How much people’s personal appetite for life is also tied up with the business expansion.

Brendon Craigie: I mean just thinking about some of the entrepreneurs that we both know, you know recently into the UK market. There is also a bit of a life journey going on as well in terms of people wanting to experience living in another market. Try and taking on a different experience.

Brendon Craigie: And I know certainly for my only experience wanting to live in the States. That was very much tied up with you know just wanting to try living in a different world. It was as much like a personal life challenge as it was a career challenge.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah man, some people you know never have any ambition at all and that’s fine. And other people have tons of ambition til the day they die. And I think certainly you know individuals that I know should be even thinking about slowing down or you know, even semi-retiring.

Peter Gillingwater: I’m seeing more of a trend actually. You know I’ve got a longer runway of life expectancy, so you know whereas maybe your parents definitely retired before they were 70. And then you know you had those initial thinking when you into the workforce.

Peter Gillingwater: Now people are living very actively until 80 and 90 plus. You know just think about retirement in your mid 50’s, you know you may have another 35 years of active fit life to use. [crosstalk 00:07:39]

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And that’s a lot of rounds of gulf.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And so no, I mean you know if you’re still active, healthy, fit and your brain’s still good, use it properly. And that to me is not just about you know a good life or family life, but it’s also your business life.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, yeah. I think through the years that you’ve worked, you always see ambition as a good thing? Like as in do you … Is ambition integral to having a happy life? Or do you think that sometimes, I wonder, I think some psychologists have said that sometimes the secret to happiness is having no expectations.

Zoe Clark: It’s that element of being happy with what you’ve got right?

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Zoe Clark: It could be a struggle if you’re constantly striving.

Brendon Craigie: I like personally, [crosstalk 00:08:30] I am, like my wife has told me, “You’re never happy. You know like you are always wanting to do the next thing.” You know?

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Whether it be buying a house, renovating a house or you know-

Zoe Clark: Moving countries.

Brendon Craigie: Moving country. She’s like, “You know you’re never happy. You always want to do something else.” I’m not quite sure I figured out how to deal with that. [inaudible 00:08:54]

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, I’ve not figured out how to deal with my wife. But I’ve also not quite figured out how to deal with myself.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah, maybe ambition is not necessarily the right word here. I mean it’s really I suppose having a sense of purpose.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah and feeling that you’re doing the best you can.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And achieving you know I suppose the optimal output of your life.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know whether that’s a high work ethos, you know I mean you know my dad was world class at getting us boys jobs at every school holiday. You know I did paper routes at the age of nine, so I’ve always worked.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And therefore I can’t not work.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And so if I am gonna work, I might as well do something that’s fun and meaningful, worthwhile.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: If it makes a ton of money that helps.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: But that’s not what drives me.

Brendon Craigie: No.

Peter Gillingwater: I mean I know I’m not driven really by money, whether I use it.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: It’s more about achievement. And you know having fun, but also the challenge.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And sometimes the challenge is not easy.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And it in fact can be painful and in fact, it could be really quite destructive at times.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: See up and down piece.

Zoe Clark: Is that one of the things that you tell your businesses in advance that when they’re beginning to think about this? Just gonna think, where do they start? What are the top pieces of advice you’d be thinking to give someone?

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah, I mean you don’t wanna tell them it’s gonna be too hard, too early.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Otherwise they’ll put them off.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: But I mean I think you have to keep the expectations real. You know and you know if I tell [inaudible 00:10:16] about this, not just on the way here but over recent days and weeks. You now companies I’m quite close to and you know I can see that they have so much more potential then they’re achieving. And partly down to the fact that they have issues around decision making. Issues around trust. Issues around just getting on with it.

Peter Gillingwater: And that’s quite a common problem, so you know I think what I do is you know founders and leaders of businesses to try and think about here is alignment to all the team. You know making sure that you communicate really well. And that’s hard, even the best of times. But also making sure that you try and avoid things like conflict. Most conflicts are unhealthy, some is good.

Peter Gillingwater: But you know you really got to start a business with as much intent as possible as well. And realize it’s not gonna be an easy journey.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: When you start thinking about expanding a business internationally, I presume there’s a huge amount of planning and thought that would need to go in before you obviously take that step? But for businesses maybe you’ve done that, they’ve jumped in. They now find themselves having growing quite quickly. And maybe they now operate in multiple geographies. Whereas you know they started out just as one and they maybe need to catch up a little bit in terms of you know, they’ve become something bigger than they thought they would be.

Zoe Clark: Do you find that’s something you ever find or you ever encounter?

Peter Gillingwater: Of course, I mean you know I’ve been lucky enough to work with some pretty amazing companies that have done extremely well. There’s not many of them to be fair. I mean you know you hear about the unicorns.

Zoe Clark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Gillingwater: You know the billion dollar plus evaluations. I mean there’s a relatively small number of those. And the companies that have done over a hundred million revenue in their store, you know revenue small numbers as well.

Peter Gillingwater: You know you don’t have to measure up by revenue, but I think you know companies do have to adjust a lot to go truly international. You know things do change around the way organizations are structures. Roles change continuously. You know the way that businesses are run operationally change and evolve.

Peter Gillingwater: And so you know what is quite common is that the teams normally have to change. The evolution of the team. The founding team invariably is not the same team you know halfway down the track, you know as they go really large internationally. Because it’s a different kind of skillset.

Peter Gillingwater: Some founders do the whole trip. In fat, we did some research probably about eight, nine years ago now. And only around 8% of founders do the whole journey to an exit. And not even a CEO, you know they stay in the business.

Peter Gillingwater: The risk you know leave for whatever reason. Sometimes you know positively, sometimes not during that journey. It is you know, it’s rare for someone to make the whole journey by themselves.

Brendon Craigie: What do you think the fun years? When are the fun years in the growth thing? Versus when does it start to become you know-

Zoe Clark: Tough.

Brendon Craigie: Bureaucratic and stale? I don’t know. If you could be part of any business at the beginning, what would you say are the most exciting years for a company?

Peter Gillingwater: Well you know certainly comes a little bit down to numbers of people as well. I mean if you can remember everyone’s name and you know, their background. And family life and so forth, but once you get up to about 20 plus people, then it starts getting harder.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And then 25, 30, so I think it depends also whether you’re in the same unit or you’re spread around the world a little bit as well. But you know the fun shouldn’t stop whilst you’re growing or indeed shrinking. Sometimes shrinking’s not a bad thing.

Peter Gillingwater: But the fun element you need to try and keep that in there. And that’s cultural thing, but also it’s a mindset thing as well.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And yeah you could be having a terrible day, but you know it could still be fun.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. Obviously you’re involved in helping companies to build teams. To use the football analogy, ’cause obviously that’s important to get in a football analogy. People talk about winning teams in football or soccer for the Americans. It’s about having the spine of the team.

Brendon Craigie: You know the spine of the team is what allows you to win cups and championships. You know having the great goal keeper, great central defender, the great central mid-fielder, great striker. You know like running through the team, the spine of the team.

Brendon Craigie: When you think about companies growing, what does the spine of the team need to look like for a successful technology company? Not necessarily in terms of role positions, but just what do you look … What does a successful business need in terms of characteristics from that leadership team to be successful?

Peter Gillingwater: Of course the greatest sporting team in history is the All backs. [crosstalk 00:15:05]

Brendon Craigie: Right.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know I look at them as actually a good metaphor for business and a lot of things they do work very well in business too. And in the spine I suppose is really around leadership. And that’s not necessarily about how many caps you have or how new you are to the business. Or indeed how long you been there as well, but it’s taking on responsibility.

Peter Gillingwater: You know and sharing the load, so I think you know a successful business is best served by having leaders. And it doesn’t necessarily mean role titles or seniority, but actually showing leadership across the business. You know sharing ideas, collaboration, not undermining hot colleagues. You know really just showing the way forward.

Brendon Craigie: Yes.

Peter Gillingwater: And that could be the person on your front reception.

Brendon Craigie: Yes.

Peter Gillingwater: It could be anyone.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: But leadership to me is really important as the proper spine of any organization.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. No I think that’s a really good point actually. You know to use another football analogy, my team that I support, they have captain. But actually if you look through the rest of the team, a lot of the people that they’ve acquired you know to strengthen that team have all been captained in their previous clubs. You’ve almost got like a team of captains. You know?

Brendon Craigie: And I think that’s in a way what you need isn’t it? Like a thing, a successful team. Everyone takes the same, feels entitled to and encouraged to and does take the same level of responsibility. And you know like leadership.

Peter Gillingwater: Absolutely and you know it’s not about egos.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: You know in fact, hopping back again to the All Backs, I mean they’ve got a phrase called cleaning the shed.

Peter Gillingwater: After each match, you know after all the players including the captain and the senior players to make sure that the dressing room is cleared out and the captain is last person to leave. You know, so there’s no egos. You’re not too big for the team.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: That will be you know, [inaudible 00:17:05] stomped upon. And I think companies, yeah you can have your characters. And you know some companies obviously have their flamboyancy. Obviously founders that are great in front of the press and you know, we know that some of them can be quite destructive as well.

Peter Gillingwater: But I think if you’ve got you know, this blend of leadership and also just without the big egos, then once again your prep’s reducing the risk of conflict. Which once again is disruptive.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: Yeah. That’s the strengths of a team and what’s absolutely necessary. What are some of the pitfalls that you’ve witnessed?

Peter Gillingwater: Of teams?

Zoe Clark: Yeah, companies trying to grow and expand. [crosstalk 00:17:42]

Peter Gillingwater: I mean it’s a trust thing you know. And I think knowing that someone will be there when they say they will be. And you know they’re not out to replace you or indeed, you know … I mean I’ve been through myself personally and I have some battle scars. And I know what it’s like to have difficult times around that team breaking up.

Peter Gillingwater: You know you have to be very aware that there are gonna be some political elements going on. There are gonna be some cultural things that are gonna destroy a company potentially. And so you just have to be on the lookout for these things. Look for signs you know.

Peter Gillingwater: Whether it’s around the water cooler or someone’s thrown [inaudible 00:18:22] in your ear that in fact there’s things going on. You just have to be tuned into the noise of the business and making sure that if there are potential issues, you know you manage them. You deal with them. You know you don’t necessarily have to destroy them. You just have to work out how to fix it.

Zoe Clark: Yeah, yeah. Is that speaking from experience of businesses you’ve been in?

Peter Gillingwater: Absolutely.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: I mean it’s you know, most companies would experience this in their lifetime in terms of you know the way that teams could break up and cultural mismatches. And you know sometimes it’s down to new people coming in, you know so their preps almost like a virus. Because they haven’t been chosen correctly.

Peter Gillingwater: They haven’t been selected properly. There’s a cultural mismatch. Or indeed, you know you get people that have been in the business for a while. And they go through a life event, or something happens and suddenly they change.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know that could also be a viral effect to a business.

Zoe Clark: Yeah, definitely. You’re a big believer in being really open and what’s in all in work are you? And sharing lots about what’s going on person life as well as [crosstalk 00:19:23]

Peter Gillingwater: We only have one life.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: I mean you don’t wanna burden your colleagues with everything that’s going on. But at the same time, you need to keep it real. And you know if you do have a problem at home with a member of the family or if something is going on that’s distracting you or causing you issues, if you don’t tell them, they don’t know.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And they wonder why you’re a grumpy bugger.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Or they wonder why you’re not so here.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: You know by being more open and you don’t have to publish it online to everyone.

Zoe Clark: Sure.

Peter Gillingwater: But you tell a few key people that in fact, you know I’m having a tough time you know for whatever reason. Then people are gonna be much more understanding. And not so much forgiving, but they can accept that today’s not a good day for you.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. No I think that’s something that is when you said someone who, I always looked quite young and obviously was quite young … Well I am still relatively young. But when I was in a leadership position quite young, I was always determined to … I was always like, you know can’t measure experience in years. Which I think is true.

Brendon Craigie: But ultimately, there is something about life experience that makes you a more rounded person. And I think as you get a bit older, you realize that people do have crappy life events that happen. You know not throughout, not necessarily of their own. They know they’re in causing, you know whether it be bereavement or you know relationships.

Brendon Craigie: And I think having a level of empathy and understanding around that is something you only really learn from encountering yourself I think.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah and I can wholeheartedly say that there’s been times where I’ve been impatient and intolerant, and actually said the wrong thing. And it’s quite a few times I’ve said the wrong thing. But you know and I suppose an older me would not have done that.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: How to part on those life messages to the younger up and coming staff, I know it’s not simple as that. But you know certainly I’ve definitely mellowed and got better I think in terms of how I deal with stuff. But you know I think perhaps cultures and businesses have changed a lot over the last 25 years.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: They’re no longer hierarchical.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Much flatter, you know [crosstalk 00:21:33] obviously with new generations coming in, the millennials have a very different viewpoint to how they work.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And in fact, I’ve even got a generation Z member of the team at the moment that’s-

Zoe Clark: What year were they born? When is their date?

Peter Gillingwater: Will was born in 2000.

Zoe Clark: Wow.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know he’s quite a phenomenal young man who has a big career ahead of him. You know he’s about to go to university in America. He’s another kiwi. But he’s over here doing a few months work experience. And in fact, he’s teaching me stuff.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know he comes in at half eleven in the morning. I don’t complain. You know, ’cause he needs his sleep in.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: But he works late and he does stuff that I couldn’t even hope to do.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. Music I find is a very dating thing. You know? I was listening to music and someone would say, “Oh I think I recognize this band. Who is it?” I was like, “You are kidding me aren’t you?” You know it was U2. And that’s like probably one of the greatest rock bands of the last, you know.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Last few decades. And I was look on it and I started looking at when this particular track was first released. It’s like 1991 and I was just saying, “Oh, you were 11 then.” Then they’ll say, “Oh no, I was one.” I was getting my decades mixed up. You forget how time passes by so quickly.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, it’s quite scary.

Zoe Clark: I mean clearly the tech industry’s constantly evolving. There’s always new things going on. But do you think that the industry is doing enough to harness that amazing talent that generation Z, et cetera have to get them involved in the industry for work, for jobs, as customers?

Peter Gillingwater: I mean there’s no doubt that the tech industry has done extremely well in evolution and continues to push boundaries.

Zoe Clark: Sure.

Peter Gillingwater: And change the world and innovate. You know there’s no doubt that roles will change and the size of companies I’m sure will change. And you know the hybrid type situations involving tech and what you do are gonna certainly happen.

Peter Gillingwater: But if you look at say the average 18 year old, I mean their mobile phones actually never leave within one inch of their body, even in bed or even in the shower comes to my kids. Yeah, so you know I certainly didn’t grow up anywhere near that kind of attachment to a device. Didn’t have devices back then.

Peter Gillingwater: But you know certainly it means that they will be more productive in a different kind of way.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know that’s just what humans are very good at doing.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Although I do question how fast they can adapt to the acceleration of change.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And I think some people do it very well and will continue to evolve. But you know, studies are showing us that a proportion of humanity are struggling with keeping up with that change.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: There may be, I’m no suggesting a split in the way that homo sapiens are evolving. But you know it’s something to consider here is that technology will create a divide in places.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Some you know, by and large it’s gonna be positive.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: I think there is this always an obsession with youth you know. I think in tech you know there is a focus on youth, a lot of young founders and so on. I just wonder do you think that the industry is guilty of writing people off at a relatively early age? You know, I think as in you know is there a stigma associated with being old in the tech sector? You know, do you know what I mean?

Brendon Craigie: Do you think we actually don’t value experience enough?

Peter Gillingwater: I think certainly it’s an issue that will always be there. You know and depends also what kind of business you are. You know if you’re a social media or an online play around gaming and so forth, you know that’s not normally a place where you find a 55 year old hanging out.

Peter Gillingwater: However, if it’s enterprise software setting into senior people in a bank, then that’s absolutely tailor made. But I do find you know, there is definitely ages amount there. Just like you know there’s diversity issues, sexism still exists. It’s improving for sure, but you know what I always say to a company is you know has judged someone on their, not necessarily experience, but also their motivations and their energy.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: You know, and you know I’ve met some 55 year olds that are just phenomenally energetic. You know they’ll come in with the goods and they’ll overachieve and do it serenely. You know certainly given my vintage years, I’m not aged it at all.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Quite the opposite. And I think it’s fit for purpose. You’ve got to figure out cultural, it’s gotta fair you know, so the person’s gotta fit into the team. And I mean I’m working with a young company down in court at the moment. Then the average age is probably 24, 25. They’re in the enterprise space.

Peter Gillingwater: They’re trying the hire someone quite senior and I get it. You know a 55 year old probably wouldn’t fit in there. We just have to figure out what’s gonna be the right fit. But you know you just have to realize that the match has to be good.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. UFC, we talked about how a lot of companies build teams and identify talent. You’ve been involved in countless processes like that. What are your … What are the things that you really look for in talent? And you know, from a positive sense. And what are the things that make you run a mile?

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah man I think you know it’s an authentic communication style. You know and having done, gone having these thousands interviews and you know, and assess people and so forth. You get an intuition and you can’t help it. And you know literally within a few minutes I can tell whether someone’s being authentic and a good person.

Peter Gillingwater: You know in other words quality in terms of capability and experience. Doesn’t always work, but it’s pretty close to being a good way of judging these things. But I think certainly you know you need to assess someone based upon their story. You know what they’ve done. How they tell it.

Peter Gillingwater: But also to be I suppose also show their weaknesses and you know where there are fails. And you know just make them come across in a natural way where you know you’re having a conversation almost like this. As opposed to an interview. And I think some companies still maintain a very rigid interview approach. And have you know ways and means of testing something.

Peter Gillingwater: But you know my approach is if someone really interviews well, then I’ll just validate that by doing some background checks and just making sure my judgment’s what it seems to be.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah. And what about maybe that’s tied up in the same answer that you’ve first given. What makes you run a mile?

Peter Gillingwater: When quite quickly I can figure out there’s a strong smell of beer. And in fact, you know they’re talking about someone else. You know they’re telling a story about someone else either they know or the person they wanna be.

Peter Gillingwater: And that comes across, very few people are good liars. I mean really it’s the eye movement and-

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: It’s their hand gestures and you know. Certainly you know that puts me off very very quickly you know.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: I’ll tend to close down a conversation quite quickly.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: I suppose it’s also that body language thing as well.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: You know the handshake and that physical interaction, the eye contact and you know it’s an event.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: You know, so you know every meeting I try and you know I’m not funny. But I try and talk about what happened yesterday, you know just trivial parts of life to see how they react and see how they respond and how they interact. And if you don’t get anything back, you go well there’s something odd here.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Zoe Clark: You spend a lot of time with these people right? You got to actually get them.

Peter Gillingwater: You gotta like them. It really helps.

Brendon Craigie: I mean it sounds like from what you’re saying, that it’s those social skills are often the difference between people.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: I mean it’s a big big factor.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: Having said that, even the most popular person might not be very good at their jobs.

Brendon Craigie: No.

Peter Gillingwater: In fact, some people excel at being social. When in fact, that’s where they are superb at being social.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And their job is secondary.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: You know, so you have to be [inaudible 00:30:12] someone that perhaps plans parties for them and their friends all the time.

Brendon Craigie: And obviously without giving any details or names or anything or companies, have you ever had any … Did you have any anecdotes of any incredible things which you’ve witnessed? You know like I don’t know, any funny stories?

Peter Gillingwater: Plenty, plenty over the years. I mean one actually involves a business I was a Director of a long time ago. And we were doing a lot of business in America. And the US client said, “You guys will do really well over here. Come and set up and we’ll help you. You can use some of our office space.”

Peter Gillingwater: This was in Dallas and so off we went. And you know we found what seemed to be the ideal guy, guy called Brett. Won’t say anymore than that ’cause it was a long time ago. And you know he joined us and it was fantastic.

Peter Gillingwater: And then you know within a few weeks the pipeline of business was looking amazing. And after three months it was like, wow this guy is just a rockstar. And then four months came in and revenues weren’t coming in. And then five months and the pipeline got bigger and bigger, but no revenues. And so we knew there was something wrong.

Peter Gillingwater: And we asked a few friends to just monitor his activities. And over that five month period it turned out his gulf handicap went from 12 to 2. And in fact, was making it all up. And you know that’s once again a good lesson learned around proper monitoring.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: In giving too much trust.

Brendon Craigie: Wow.

Zoe Clark: I had a somewhat similar experience and I use to actually work in recruitment consulting myself many years ago. And worked for quite a large firm and a guy joined on the same day I did. I’d say within the first few, the main task, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, but name collecting. Where you have to build up this bank of people who might be interested in switching jobs. Which is quite a hard code calling task that you have to do for a few months.

Zoe Clark: And this guy and I carried on daily persevering, plugging away. I wasn’t really enjoying it but getting on with it, etcetera, etcetera. And it turned out ultimately after a few months that he was actually still employed by his previous employer, a much smaller head hunting firm. And he was basically scraping our database and stealing lists and lists and lists of names.

Peter Gillingwater: Yep.

Brendon Craigie: Wow.

Zoe Clark: Went back to his previous much smaller firm and gave them all our company’s intel.

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah, I remember one amazing story. It wasn’t amazing actually really for anyone at the time. But you know it was during the opening up of the Central European marketplaces to new technologies and new companies. And so therefore the number of people that you really knew what they were doing was quite limited.

Peter Gillingwater: And there was one individual that you know we got to know and we thought, he’s good you know. And we put him into a role and you know, off he went. The company seemed pretty happy. I mean he was doing okay.

Peter Gillingwater: And then we found out about a year later he had taken on four jobs at the same time. Employed by four different companies getting four salaries. And you know effectively was not really doing much work at all. Or trying to divide his time.

Brendon Craigie: Wow.

Peter Gillingwater: Once again, you got to be careful about that.

Zoe Clark: People are genius aren’t they? When you think-

Brendon Craigie: Yeah, that’s quite impressive. [crosstalk 00:33:26]

Peter Gillingwater: Yeah.

Brendon Craigie: [crosstalk 00:33:28] towards the end of her time and try that one out.

Zoe Clark: Gosh. We want to ask you about your ideal working environment. Because as you know at Tyto we worked with quite a different model. And we’re all over the place and we can work from anywhere we like. We’re not constrained to particular boundaries of a desk or of a particular office.

Zoe Clark: We have an ingenious little segment called desert island desks. And we would like to know where your desert island desk would be if you could work anywhere in the world with any setup or process. What would it look like?

Peter Gillingwater: That’s good. That’s a great question because you know I’ve worked in so many different environments.

Zoe Clark: Exactly.

Peter Gillingwater: I’ve seen so many people environments.

Zoe Clark: Pick and choose the best.

Peter Gillingwater: I remember going to a US company box in the valley and they had a slide from the second or first floor. But I would never slide, but you know just you know, seen quite a few. And I think you know for me what works best, I mean location wise I think you know if it’s we’re talking about successful business as opposed to lifestyle, yeah?

Zoe Clark: Well, whatever you want.

Peter Gillingwater: I mean, yeah let’s talk about successful business. Yeah, you need to be close to your customers. Close enough. You need to have access to your team, that’s really important.

Peter Gillingwater: Doesn’t mean everyone has to be in the office. But you have to be able to communicate and so I think what works is a bit of blend of things. You know, so you know open plan. I love it apart from when I hate it.

Peter Gillingwater: You know sometimes it’s too noisy and you know therefore you’re gonna have access to private space as well. And you know you also need to be able to communicate on a regular basis. And I think it’s just having an environment where people feel natural and feel that they can do, just get on with their stuff.

Peter Gillingwater: And you know, whether it’s six hours in a day or whether it’s one hour in the day. I mean I’ve … You know I’ve once again over the years it’s not how many hours you work, it’s how effective you are.

Peter Gillingwater: Unfortunately, I still work long hours. But you know it’s-

Zoe Clark: Have you not got around that one yet?

Peter Gillingwater: I just like working. No I don’t like working. I just, you know it works for me. Getting up going to the office. I don’t have to but I do. And it’s partly around being part of that tribe. You know it’s a team thing.

Peter Gillingwater: You know, so I’m terrible working by myself. I have done it for about six months and I watched a lot of test trigger on TV. And yeah, I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Peter Gillingwater: I need to be around people. And I think also having good coffee. That’s really really important. I’m not talking about Nespresso capsules. I mean we’re talking about proper coffee. And a barista of course on site. Four restaurant facilities, I mean there’s some.

Peter Gillingwater: You know sadly I’ve not necessarily had that, but you know close to good food.

Zoe Clark: Absolutely.

Peter Gillingwater: You gotta have once again, around the office. You know just great food, you know. You know maybe not retail therapy.

Zoe Clark: Sounding great. We’ll come and work at your place.

Peter Gillingwater: And of course the climate. You know just the thought of working in the Nautics, you know, where-

Zoe Clark: And winter.

Peter Gillingwater: And winter you know, where you leave it’s dark.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: When you get home it’s dark and you know there’s a few hours of what could be sunshine. Give me at least 12 hours of sunshine. You know a bit of rain occasionally is fine. But temperate weather and also I wanna see the ocean.

Zoe Clark: You don’t ask for much do you?

Peter Gillingwater: No, no now that you’re asking me the question, it’s opening up quite nicely.

Zoe Clark: Yeah.

Peter Gillingwater: And of course the ability to teleport anywhere I want to.

Zoe Clark: Yeah, of course.

Peter Gillingwater: Helicopter of course would be useful. The list goes on. But yeah there’s so many elements that should work but it’s very hard to bring them all together.

Zoe Clark: Yeah, great. Peter thanks so much for joining us. It was great to speak to you.

Peter Gillingwater: A real pleasure, I’ve enjoyed it.

Brendon Craigie: Thank you.

Zoe Clark: Thanks for listening to Without Borders. If you like what you’ve heard, why not subscribe? And if you want to find out more about Tyto and what we’re up to, you can find us at tytopr.com. That’s T-Y-T-O-P-R.com.

Tyto brings you Without Borders, a regular dose of inspiration for passionate communicators, courageous creatives and entrepreneurial business brains. Expect candid chats with the wisest old hands, bleeding edge innovators and left field thinkers and doers.