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Brechin Businesswoman’s Firm Plans to Double in Size

An Angus woman whose recruitment agency employs 200 staff worldwide has plans to double its headcount in the next year.

Katrina Hutchinson-O’Neill set up Join Talent in 2019 and the firm now has staff across the UK, Dubai and the USA.

After more than 15 years in recruitment, she decided to turn her back on comfortable salaries and company cars to set up her own firm.

Now, her business has clients in 23 countries across the world, with staff based everywhere from Scotland to Sri Lanka.

Ms Hutchinson-O’Neill, who lives in Brechin, explained how she fell into a career in recruitment.

“I was the first member of my family to go to university and the first to drop out.

“It wasn’t for me.

“I was head of recruitment for Ulster Bank and then RBS offered me a job. I had to move to Scotland, so I moved across nearly 10 years ago.

“A couple of years back, I decided I was going to give up my job with Nationwide Building Society and my really comfortable salary, and have no money to see if our idea was right.”

She admits 2019 and 2020 were “frugal” as she and husband Gareth adjusted.

The mum-of-three said: “The business has just taken off. I’ve spent my career in the industry so people trust me.

“We’re on a growth trajectory – we’re growing 10% month on month and on track to double by the end of the year.

“We’re looking to hire another 200 or so people over the next 12 months.”

Ms Hutchinson-O’Neill said having staff based worldwide can be useful when dealing with clients in all four corners of the globe.

“We don’t mind where someone is based. If they’ve got the right skills and they are the right culture fit, we’ll get them in.

“Because clients are spread across 23 countries, having that geographic spread across time zones is quite helpful.”

She said 45% of the firm’s staff are based in the UK, with 25% based in South Africa.

Join Talent will, early in 2022, open offices in the USA.

It has also completed an acquisition of Stonehaven-based DigiSource, with founder Tom Brown joining the Join Talent staff.

Ms Hutchinson-O’Neill said: “The reason we acquired it was there was a lot of synergy in terms of culture between us and Tom’s team.

“It was hard for us to provide support to some of the smaller clients, so DigiSource specialise in that area.

“It allows us to have an offering for smaller clients.”

When she gave up her job to set out on her own, never could the Brechin resident have imagined she’d be so successful in such a short space of time.

“Some of the things we get to be involved in is pretty crazy,” she said.

“I had a real longing to see if we could do it. I thought ‘if I fall on my face, it’ll be embarrassing but it’ll be OK’.

“We broke even at the end of year one and then even with Covid, we still grew in 2020.

“I never dreamt we would be so successful so quickly.”

Recently, she won Scottish start-up entrepreneur of the year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Ms Hutchinson-O’Neill said: “I was not expecting that. It was such an amazing shortlist so it was a great surprise.”

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