Guest Blog: Nathan Quinn, Associate Director, (Tech Specialisms) London
I’m honoured to take over Bev’s guest blog today.
I’m currently the Associate Director in London (Tech Specialisms) and latest Harvey Nash ‘Boomeranger’. I have a passion for sharing what works and what doesn’t, so I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to share my thoughts around my year so far, and to talk about opportunity which can be found in the middle of adversity.
I live in Wakefield West Yorkshire. I’m a husband, proud father and bang average CrossFit competitor. I started my recruitment journey in 2013. I guess I’m an anomaly, because during my final year of University, I knew that I wanted to be a recruiter, even though I only had a rough understanding of what one actually did. I knew that I wanted to do something important, wear a blue suit and frequent All Bar One three nights a week, so recruitment seemed very appealing. Securing people their dream role? It doesn’t get any more important than that.
Fast forward to 2017, and after cutting my teeth in the Interim Healthcare market, I joined Harvey Nash Leeds. I worked my way up from a consultant,and finished in early 2022 as the Head of Technology Specialisms. Leeds was where I developed my passion for leadership, and I was extremely proud that by the time I left, all my direct reports were leading their own teams and were delivering record results.
The American Dream
For years I’d thought about living and working in the USA. There was something almost romantic about the challenge of moving there with my family and starting again from scratch. I’ve always admired immigrant families who managed to carve out an impressive future from humble beginnings.
Soon the idea grew, and I started to make plans, and my first mistake. Being in a leadership position, I didn’t feel I could speak with anyone internal about my plans. In my head, how could I lead a team if I wasn’t 100% committed? 2021 was a burnout year for many, and I didn’t want to admit that I was looking to do something else, particularly when things were so tough across the team. I’ve always believed that leaders should be resolute islands, unwavering in the face of adversity. I didn’t see how I could be a good leader with my desk by the door. In the end, I moved to NYC with another organisation that didn’t fully understand what was important to me.
So I sold the prized family dairy cow, packed my life into 5 boxes and flew 3,300 miles to New York City. Moving without visiting, was really exciting, but very tough on the family. Prioritising long term reward over short term discomfort was something that had always worked for me in the past, but it didn’t seem to be working now. It quickly became clear that my wife didn’t believe that exchanging the rolling hills of West Yorkshire for the concrete jungle of New York city was a fair swap, so with heavy hearts we decided to move back.
The first thing I did was get in touch with Harvey Nash and was quickly interviewed by Helen. The decision to join the London office felt like fate, as Helen and I had been speaking probably once a week in the year before I left, and I felt our style and approach to recruitment and leadership matched. I also love London, so the opportunity to build a team there sounds like just the challenge I needed.
The offices while very different, have the same Harvey Nash feel running through them which made the transition easy. The biggest challenge for me was that I had become used to leading in an environment where I had relationships dating back over 4 years, so it was a short sharp return to the basics. After a week I felt fully at home again and seemed to receive a warmer welcome around every corner.
The support I received from Harvey Nash was second to none, and everyone seemed to bend over backwards to make my transition as easy as possible. This coupled with the fact I joined a team brimming with potential gave me confidence in my decision.
Here are a few of the key lessons I’d like to share with you all:
1) Don’t assume:
We don’t always see things how they are. Our perception of the world can often create a narrative that doesn’t exist. Had I been open and honest about my plans Harvey Nash would have been fully supportive and would of facilitated a move.
2) You can’t make a bad decision if you do what’s right for the team:
My team in NYC was my family, and coming home was the right thing to do for them. When leading, I try to view problems from the balcony and operate with the same mindset.
3) Break negative patterns with positive action:
Coming back was tough. It felt like the balloons hadn’t even deflated from my leaving party. There were many things I couldn’t change, so I focused exclusively on the things I could. Small wins stacked on top of each other day after day created a significant change in my perspective.
4) Love your fate
The hand your dealt isn’t always going to be great, but the friction that comes from adversity will develop your character, so whatever happens to you, embrace it. It is good for you, even if you can’t see it just yet.
5) Change the person before you change the place:
It’s easy to blame your surroundings for the way you feel. What you really need to do is to become a different person.
If any of you are thinking about internal mobility and would like to speak with me, please reach out.
Finally, I’d like to give a special thank you to Helen Fleming, Andy Heyes, Rhona Carmichael, Natalie Dobson, Melanie Hayes and Bev White for their support.