Trading finance for technology: Mahesh Dabasia, Team leader and Contracts Manager, Eurostaff Technology
Mahesh came to Staffgroup looking for a more dynamic and progressive career, having previously worked in financial sales at a major UK bank. Today, he manages a team of specialist recruiters and a pool of IT contractors within Staffgroup’s Eurostaff Technology practice.
As a graduate in Economics fresh out of university, Mahesh Dabasia secured his first professional role at a leading UK bank. Working in financial sales, he was there for a couple of years but found the environment quite stale and career opportunities limited to when a space became available, rather than being based on ability.
Having taken the decision to make a change and conducting some initial research into other industries, he identified recruitment as a sector that could offer a more dynamic setting and recognised that working for a smaller firm would provide him with more scope to grow professionally.
“To be honest, I didn’t leave university thinking I wanted to be a recruiter – not many people do!” says Mahesh. “But reading about the career and its prospects, the lifestyle, the rewards and the opportunity for progression, it looked a fast-paced, dynamic and ever-changing industry – all the things that finance and banking didn’t have. I knew that if I could prove myself, I would have the opportunity to grow as part of a team and make decisions that matter.”
Mahesh posted his CV on several job boards and registered with a specialist agency for recruiters – or ‘rec-to-rec’ as it’s known in the trade – and events quickly progressed. “I was introduced to Staffgroup’s founders Mark Znowski and Paul Flynn in early 2005 and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Attitude and aptitude
- Mahesh joined Staffgroup as a recruitment consultant specialising in IT contracts. Known as Eurostaff Group at the time, the company offered him the opportunity to work with some of the biggest banks, consultancies and other Fortune 500 companies throughout the UK and mainland continental Europe. Mark and Paul advised Mahesh that the contractor market was ideally suited to the type of environment he wanted to work in, advice that proved sound because within a year of joining, Mahesh had risen to senior consultant.
“This is not a firm where you have to wait for an opportunity to become available,” he confirms. “If you show the right attitude and aptitude and hit your targets, there’s no limit or timeframe on your progression. There’s no rigid structure here which is great, you can follow the path you want to go down, whether you want to take on management roles, or focus entirely on recruitment.”
Mahesh now manages a team of recruitment consultants focused on IT contracts, as well as his own pool of IT contractors working across Europe. His typical day involves following up with his team on the recruitment pipeline and where they are with their requirements, as well as new leads and how they are being progressed. At interview stage, he needs to know when a decision will be taken and whether the necessary logistics are in place.
“Because we work Europe-wide, we have to check that our candidates have the necessary route to the market – namely that legal requirements are met and whether the contractor is a limited company or needs our assistance with payroll. It’s vital we ensure the logistics are right. And for clients, we need to know whether there is an order of preference in terms of which candidate they want to take on board. We really do act as consultants rather than the ‘paper-shifters’ that the recruitment industry sometimes gets perceived as.”
With targets set on a two-monthly basis, Mahesh liaises with the Contracts Director, John Kittle to assess the overall performance of the contracts division. This means ensuring consultants keep on top of their visits to clients and placed candidates, are meeting their placement targets and are marketing candidates to potential clients. In addition to managing his team and the recruitment lifecycle for candidates and clients, Mahesh must also take a proactive approach to growing the recruitment pipeline and Staffgroup’s business.
“I’m involved in more strategic aspects of the business, not just in terms of assessing whether a certain market has scope for growth and how the opportunities coming through might align with our specialist areas, but also in terms of identifying new areas.
Life at Staffgroup
“It’s young, it’s dynamic and there’s a lot of noise and buzz, there’s lots of banter between the teams, creating friendly competition, but no large egos and that’s largely down to the way we have daily interaction with the owners and the sales directors. If you have any ideas, everyone is open about different ways of doing things. There is not an open door policy here – there’s a no door policy!”
Built on the premise of having a team of hardworking, dedicated and talented individuals, Staffgroup is also committed to equipping staff with the tools to succeed – whether this is through flexibility in working practices, the adoption of new technology or rewarding staff with well-earned down time. Its offices have pool tables, Wiis, PlayStations, Friday beer fridges and also organises regular social activities – although the jewel in the crown is the 3pm finish on a Friday! This approach saw Staffgroup recently placing fifth in the prestigious Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For.
However, what really stands out for Mahesh is the opportunity for professional development.
“Every consultant is given classroom-based training, but also spends time on the ‘shop floor’ with a variety of consultants working in different areas, listening to calls and receiving ‘buddy’ mentoring so that they have direct experience of different styles in terms of the way the job is done. And that’s the way I think it should be done”
“Professionally, this has helped me tremendously. I have the ability to communicate at all levels and styles, as well as to deal with the ups and downs of the job. Personally, it has also made me very strong inside and out. There’s nothing I’m really fazed by and I’m always looking for solutions rather than problems – and this is ingrained in the ethos of Staffgroup.”
Finding solutions and long-term success
Staffgroup has an extensive support structure in place should any issues arise, with managers always on hand to provide advice. There are also additional buffers in place.
“Because it’s a solutions driven company, if something’s not right, then it makes you think – and think independently about how to resolve issues, if consultants don’t hit their targets for example, we look to find out what the challenges are, as well as finding the positives and developing those further.”
It has also been important for Mahesh to be able to progress in the way he wants.
“I always wanted to stay hands on and for now will continue growing my team and managing my own billings. Ultimately, becoming a sales director or practice director would be my long-term goal.”
Indeed, Mahesh is keen to stress that aside from the fantastic financial rewards, recruitment provides a long-term career if you find the right company to work for.
“If you stick at it through both the good and the bad, you can do tremendously well. More importantly however, you can advance your career and there is nothing to say you can’t become a sales director within three years if you wanted to.”