You’ve been at Hydrogen for 10 years now which is an incredible achievement. If we go back to the very beginning, what made you choose to go into recruitment?
I started at Hydrogen fresh out of university and like most people, I didn’t have a plan to get into recruitment.
I began my career working in the Finance space and after almost two years, I was asked to look at a new market for us in Oil & Gas. This was an industry on the up and Hydrogen gave me the perfect opportunity to catch the right market at the right time. I was promoted and started to build multiple teams focused on international recruitment. We partnered with some great clients across Europe, Middle East and Africa allowing me to learn from different cultures and travel across EMEA.
Have there been any curve balls along the way?
Within a month of joining Hydrogen, Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial services market crashed so I moved my focus into Industry & Commerce. While it was a really difficult time, this taught me a lot in terms of how to adapt quickly to market conditions, which is something I've been able to do again and again.
You’re now based in Singapore. What inspired you to make the move?
As oil prices started to decrease, the opportunity to move to Singapore came along and I knew that more international experience would help progress my career. The contract market in Asia was growing and it was another great opportunity to get in early and take advantage.
What do you love most about life in Singapore?
The lifestyle and travel is great. In our first two years we visited Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan and the Maldives.
Condo accommodation is great, you can live within walking distance to work and have an amazing city skyline view, swimming pool and tennis courts. The city is immaculate and modern but also very green, so great for outdoor activities too. It’s also hot 365 days of the year and the low tax makes it a very attractive place to work.
How has Hydrogen changed over the 10 years that you've been here?
When I started we had multiple brands including Finance Professionals, Project Partners and Darwin Park before we all re-branded as Hydrogen Group. In Asia now, with the Argyll Scott partnership last year, we have multiple brands again and in Singapore our office doubled in size so it has been great to work with and learn from some new people.
We are now also more flexible in the way we work and can be smart with how we spend our time. Whether it’s responding to emails on the way to a client meeting or collaborating with colleagues on a shared document in the cloud at the same time.
Using smarter MI and BI has improved our efficiency, which in turn means we’re spending less time in the office and more time out building relationships with clients and candidates.
And how have you changed over the 10 years?
When I started my career, my focus was certainly more on myself. Since then I have really enjoyed helping members of my teams achieve both their personal and professional goals. Some of them have been global top billers, made similar international moves of their own and been able to buy their first homes from the commission they have earned.
Any tips for people wanting to get into recruitment now?
Recruitment is one of the most transparent and rewarding careers I think you can get into. If you’re willing to learn and have the right proposition for both candidates and clients, you can make a real success of your career.
After a record-breaking year so far, we are growing the team in Asia so if you’d like to find out more about working at Hydrogen, then please reach out to me on LinkedIn. And before you know it, you might also be celebrating 10 years at Hydrogen!
What's next for you? What are your goals and aims for the future?
My wife and I had our first child last year and we’d like to be in Singapore for a few more years. We also just received our permanent residency here which is very exciting!
In the future, we may decide to move back to the UK so that we’re closer to our families. London is our head office and I’m sure there will always be opportunities there. Otherwise, Hydrogen is continuously growing and opening new offices, so I wouldn’t rule out another international move as well!
Managing Executive, Hydrogen Group
James Murueta is a Senior Manager at Hydrogen Group in Singapore responsible for delivering Contract and Consulting solutions to our clients across Technology, Business Transformation and Corporate Governance.