When Joshua Dada joined Hydrogen in 2014, he already had several years under his belt working in IT recruitment, so starting as a Regulatory Affairs consultant in our Life Sciences team held no fears.
But he quickly learnt that not only did he have to adapt to a different approach but also to a sector that was completely new to him. “I did find it difficult when I started despite my background in recruitment. But you soon realise that when things don’t go to plan you’re going to have to make changes. And that’s one of the big takeaways for me: learning to take things on board, being open to criticism, learning from others and adapting.”
Despite the initial hiccups, once Josh found his feet the transformation started and the results flowed. Just three years down the line, he is now a senior manager in Regulatory Affairs with five direct reports. The Hydrogen culture has played an integral part in his growth, “I remember asking about career progression at interview and Steph Murtagh [Life Sciences Director] told me that it’s not just about the delivery but also understanding the business and helping people grow. No one will hold you back and they’ve been true to their word.”
“Although we have procedures to follow, everyone is allowed the autonomy to take initiative and encouraged to be entrepreneurial. This is very rare in recruitment, at least in my experience,” continues Josh. “The investment we get in marketing, training, meeting clients in Europe is pretty unique. We encourage everyone to go out and meet their clients and candidates; it’s all about building relationships and developing your own business pipeline.”
Josh’s time is split evenly between his own client work and the development of his team. “From the top down, the message is that we’re in this together – there’s a target for the Life Sciences Practice and then we each have our own numbers, so we’re all working together as one. I see my team more than I do my own family, so it’s important that we all get along and that we can be open with each other.”
This honesty is harnessed by a collegial atmosphere that enables Josh and his team to push each other on to succeed. “We have our own WhatsApp group, we all chat together, we have team lunches, we’re a family. Two-way feedback is very much encouraged at Hydrogen, being open to take constructive criticism allows us to work even closer together and be collaborative. We have ‘stand-ups’ every single day and look at our plan for the day and what we could have done better yesterday.
“But if things aren’t going right then I want to know how we’re going to get out of this position,” Josh stresses. “We’ll do it but you’re going to be accountable if it doesn’t work – everyone needs to shoulder their responsibilities.”
The same transparent approach applies to candidate and client dealings. “To offer a real consulting service you’re giving people advice about what you strongly feel they should be doing. It might not necessarily be what they want to hear but you’ll earn their respect and they’ll be more likely to partner with you for the long term.”
How then does he juggle his own personal targets and having to manage a team? “I’m very different to a lot of people, so I’m already working on my February targets in January. Being a month ahead I already know if I’m going to have a good month. This frees up more time to be hands on with my team. We sit very close to each other, so I can coach them on the job and offer them advice, as we often share the same clients.”
Working at Hydrogen has allowed him to work flexibly, which has helped him hugely. “As a parent herself, Steph understands the challenges of family and work commitments. But she knows that I’m very straightforward and that if I say something will happen it will, so there’s trust there. There needs to be a bit of give and take so I’m very contactable on the phone or via email and you can pretty much reach me at any time. If something needs to be done, it will be.”
So, what makes a top recruiter? “You need to be motivated and goal oriented – your day to day activities must be aligned to your goals as these will spur you on, especially on days when you might be tired and need that extra motivation. There are a lot of things I want to achieve outside of work and money does come into it and keeps me focused.
“But as a manager, I want to see every member of my team get promoted,” he says. “Five individual successes beats my own personal achievement all day long!”
Josh’s top tips
- Be prepared to adapt your style – be open to change and take things on board
- Take advice from everyone around you. Doesn’t matter how experienced you are
- Understand and learn from setbacks. Break down the information and find the positives
- Don’t put anybody on a pedestal. Respect everyone the same whether client or candidate
- Concentrate your efforts on the things that will reap the greatest rewards
- Be honest with both your colleagues and clients – even if it’s not what they want to hear
- Clients will test your expertise but once you’ve passed the test, they will listen!
"It’s extraordinary what Josh has achieved. He has two kids and a one and half hour commute so has to work flexibly, which we encourage here. But he’s always available on email or on the phone and is a fantastic role model for his team. A great example of what you can achieve at Hydrogen." Stephanie Murtagh, Life Sciences Director
Joshua Dada is senior manager of our Regulatory Affairs team. Having joined Hydrogen in 2014, he works extensively with CROs and Consultancies to source 'hard to find' industry specialists.