In the spotlight: an interview with Anthony Stuart

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It's Director of Hayward Hawk, Anthony Stuart's turn in the spotlight. Based in Belfast, technology specialists Hayward Hawk launched with Recruitment Entrepreneur in 2016. Anthony became a Director earlier this year, alongside founders Richard Waterson and Stephen McDowell. We ask him about his progression path, his goals for this year, and how he relaxes after a long day at the office.


How has your role at Hayward Hawk progressed since starting?

When Hayward Hawk launched in 2016, I joined as an Associate Director and was promoted to Director this year. I've seen the company grow from just me, Richard and Stephen to a team of 18.  As we've scaled our operations, I’ve been focusing more on team management and strategy, as well as establishing our brand in the market, on top of the day-to-day recruitment. I look after the contract team within the business, which is currently a team of five with the intention of hiring two more consultants this year.


Do you have any secret talents?

I play the drums. Before I joined Hayward Hawk I was a professional musician, touring around UK, Ireland and Canada. I’ve played everywhere from local bars and weddings to the Royal Albert Hall.


How did you get into recruitment?

I was working as a musician when I got a bad shoulder injury, meaning I couldn’t play the drums. I thought it was time to get a ‘real job’; I was friends with Richard at the time and saw the success he was having in recruitment. I worked at a recruitment agency for just under four years before Richard and Stephen approached me about coming on board to help launch Hayward Hawk. I’d always wanted to join a new business and I believed there was space in the market for a recruitment agency like Hayward Hawk that was a bit fresher and more creative.


What’s your key piece of advice to those early in their recruitment career?

Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed in recruitment.


What was your very first job?

I peeled potatoes in a fish and chip shop when I was 14. I was promoted twice while there – first to dishwasher, and then to pasty-maker. I quit when I could no longer stand the smell of it!


In your opinion, what sets Hayward Hawk apart from its competitors?

On the candidate side of things, we emphasise candidate courtship. We always take them out and get to know them and exactly what they’re looking for; we think long-term. To our clients, we are focused on the right candidate, not the ‘right now’ candidate. One client recently told us that they always feel like they’re our number one client, which isn’t usually the case. Of course we don't have number one clients, but anytime they need us, we’re there.


What do you do to relax?

The healthy side of me goes for a run or to the gym…the other side goes to the pub.


How would you describe your company’s culture?

It’s a fun, energetic environment, full of entrepreneurs, where everyone roots for each other and hard work is rewarded. Nobody takes themselves too seriously but everyone is exceptionally good at what they do. I think our willingness to challenge things and be different is key to the success we have with our clients.


What has been the biggest milestone in your career so far?

Getting the directorship; I’m only 29 and it was always a goal to be a director before I was 30. The path to directorship was laid out from day one, with established targets. It was meant to be after three years, but I ended up being promoted six months early!


[caption id="attachment_62551" align="alignleft" width="478"] Anthony (right) with founding directors Stephen and Richard[/caption]

What do you most enjoy about being a director?

As a start-up, we have a really strong brand but we don’t adhere to strict guidelines. We have the freedom to play about and take risks and as director, I have the autonomy to make key decisions and implement different ideas. There’s a really dynamic feel in the office; we’re constantly evolving and thinking about scalability.

I really enjoy working alongside Richard and Stephen. We're all passionate and opinionated, and having each other to bounce ideas off as a soundboard means we make less mistakes; we're not afraid to say when we think something's wrong.

Also, the fact we were friends beforehand has definitely helped us foster the right culture as we're all on the same wavelength (most of the time...).



Which person, living or dead, would be your dream dinner guest?

My wife’s grandmother. Unfortunately she passed away before I got to meet her but I have heard so many amazing stories about her. My wife and her family always say how well we would have got on.


What have you found most challenging about working in recruitment?

It’s the only sales job where your product can say no. When candidates let you down, it’s heartbreaking.


What have you found most rewarding about working in recruitment?

The buzz of the wins. As well as the commission, the reward of securing the dream job for someone you believe in is always a nice bonus.


What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Apart from the alarm? I genuinely love being at Hayward Hawk. It’s so fast-paced and we see tangible success every day. At the very beginning we probably didn’t celebrate success enough – we were all very driven and once we achieved a monthly target, we immediately went about making the next one. Now we take a step back, recognise our efforts, and celebrate them. Last year we went on a team trip to London, where we visited LinkedIn’s HQ and then went out for dinner and played crazy golf. Next quarter’s incentive is £1000 to either spend on a custom suit or a personal shopper.


[caption id="attachment_62574" align="alignright" width="439"] The Hayward Hawk team[/caption]

What characteristic do you look for when hiring?

Someone who is ambitious and who wants to come in and be a part of something. It’s not a distinct characteristic as such, but someone who’s not just along for the ride. You gain a real identity working at Hayward Hawk, rather than simply being an employee.


What is your goal for 2019?

I want to elevate my personal profile by speaking at more industry and career events. I recently spoke at Specialisterne, an organisation that helps autistic people to navigate interviews and be confident in their business strengths.

Richard recently did his first deal in America, placing our first trans-Atlantic candidate in Boston. We’re hoping to build that side of the business more, working with our clients who have US offices. We also want to increase our headcount; we aim to be 30 consultants strong by the end of the year.


Do you work in the technology sector in Northern Ireland and/or mainland UK? Get in touch to see how Hayward Hawk can help you at