25 years ago – Spice Girls Released Spice & I Started My Exec Search Career!

I share an anniversary with the Spice Girls

Today is my 25th birthday. Yes, on 4th November 1996, the same day that the Spice Girls released Spice,  I started my Executive Search career for a company called Hall Kinion, a Silicon Valley based startup that for some reason saw something in me and decided that I’d make a good junior recruiter in the software sector.

Hall Kinion was a super high growth Technology Services and Recruitment firm with HQ in San Jose and the UK business was set up to support, predominantly US software companies to start up in the UK and Europe.



I was 23 years old and I had wanted to get into recruitment for a while.  For several years after I started, I would pinch myself that I was working for such an amazing company at 23. I look back at those years with passion, fun & excitement.  I was able to develop my technology career in a remarkable company that was at the cutting edge of Technology with offices in most US tech hubs as well as going through a successful IPO soon after I joined.

The company had many progressive and groundbreaking ways to support their staff and clients. It was a breath of fresh air and at the time I sense people I knew thought it was not real. I literally went to work for the fun of it. Club trip every year (I qualified for all apart from my 1st year) wonderful offices, working conditions, great compensation – all the ingredients were there and I excelled.  But the most important aspect….The People. You know who you are. Thank you!



Here comes Intrinsic!

The experience of working in that international tech environment for almost 8 years shaped and developed me into what I am today. When it came to an end, I really had no choice but to start my own Executive Search firm and Intrinsic Executive Search was born alongside Ben Watkins who also joined Hall Kinion in the early days.

I’m still working with clients and candidates that I worked with then!


OK, lets have some fun and look at how the world of work in Tech Executive Search has changed since I started in 1996

  • CV’s and offer letters were sent using a fax machine
  • Even though we had a rudimentary CRM, all my CVs were held in hanging files and I’d write all my notes in files. These CVs were held in a hanging file system on castors at my desk
  • Piles and piles of business cards
  • Using a pseudonym name to navigate switchboards 
  • Candidates nearly always came for a formal/semi formal interview to the office before we scheduled an interview
  • Company phone lists were gold dust. No idea how we came by them?
  • Never once did I work from home, always went to the office
  • I always wore a suit and tie, apart from Friday’s where we could dress down, unless we were interviewing or meeting clients
  • In fact, on occasion, we’d book a tailor to come to the office to measure us up for shirts and suits
  • Very few men sported a beard
  • Software was all On Prem, no one had heard of SaaS
  • New start ups were far less prevalent that they are today. The barriers to entry were huge
  • We used video conferencing in each office which consisted of 2 huge bandwidth ISDN lines, a giant TV screen, a large computer box, a large camera unit. It worked sometimes
  • One computer in the office had access to the web. This changed to all computers by 1997 though
  • We’d ask new clients to send us their product collateral in the post
  • Interview conformations were confirmed by letter in the post
  • The Nokia 3310 with the snake game
  • Recalling how my mind was blown when on my first club trip, the whole itinerary was scheduled as an eTicket and emailed to me. I recall asking the american travel agent to talk me through this as I thought it was some sort of futuristic sourcery
  • Our leads list consisted of a CD-Rom with a list of all the software and services companies listed in the UK
  • We had our own direct dial number and voicemail
  • Remembering how totally cool it was for one of my candidates to provide me a demo of their company’s BI software. It came on 3.5 inch floppy disk. Looking back now it was so rudimentary but at the time it was so cool
  • One of my clients telling me that software was the best industry to be in as, and I quote,” We sell CD’s for millions of dollars!”
  • Christmas parties and company socials….hmm. Nope, definitely not the same as we have now – Enough said!
  • Millennium Bug – The late 1990’s that’s all we could think about. How much money was made from a problem that never really was a problem


Digital Economy

BUT , if you have taken the time to read this and you are all the way down to here, the one thing that stands out about the  late 1990’s was the rise of the internet and the creation of the digital economy. The rate of change that we saw in the years 1996 to 2000 was incredible and laid the path to the digital economy that we have today. Being part of that is a privilege.

Here is to another 25 years!..Well maybe not all in tech as I do plan to go sailing at some stage!

Thanks to you all – Clients, Candidates, Partners, Colleagues and Friends for making the ride as exciting as it has been.


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