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The Autumn Huddle 2018 Roundup

The Autumn Huddle 2018 Roundup

Written by James Osborne

Last edited May 8, 2023

The Autumn Huddle 2018 Roundup

With most of us spending an average of over 90,000 hours at work in our lifetime it is no wonder that a poor work environment can affect our mental health. Work-related mental ill-health is estimated to be costing businesses up to £26 billion every year, so we need to make sure we take care of our employees’ mental health.

‘A ship in harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for’

On Wednesday 17 October, we welcomed members of The Recruitment Network to our Autumn Huddle, hosted at Gibson Hall in Bishopsgate, London.

As one of our quarterly Huddles, this event focused on leadership and employee engagement and featured sailing as the backdrop to the event. We designed this event to inspire members to sail through upcoming adversity such as the economic uncertainty which Brexit brings.

Brendan Hall – Trust Learning Lessons and Creating Ownership

After a quick introduction from TRN Co-Founder, James Osborne, we began our Autumn Huddle with our first speaker, Brendan Hall.

In 2009, Brendan skippered a racing yacht in the ultimate long-distance challenge which was a 35,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe where amateur crews race in identical yachts.

Although he was the youngest and least experienced skipper, he managed to win, by creating an engaged and empowered crew with a compelling vision, strong values, and an even stronger mindset.

Brendan spoke about his trust learning lessons & creating ownership in a team, stressing the importance that this was a race of ten teams, and not of ten boats.  In order to succeed, Brendan knew that he had to transform his crew and change their attitudes because they lacked training in how to sail. Brendan quickly learnt that whoever could manage to change the best would be the most successful and became set on instilling trust, credibility, reliability and intimacy.

Discussing his three wins for trust, Brendan emphasised to members the importance of creating a culture where people take ownership and aren’t afraid to admit and grow from mistakes.

 ‘We can hope it gets better next time… or we can see it as an opportunity to grow’.

Brendan’s three key areas that are essential when building a management team were:

1). Trust

2). Growth Mindset

3). Ownership


Natalie Adams – Riding the Wave

After a short break, we introduced Natalie Adams to the stage, who is Head of Talent & Organisational Development at Holiday Extras. Consistently ranked for 12 years as one of the top 100 companies to work for, Holiday Extras manages to attract extraordinary talent despite its location.

Natalie gave members a walkthrough of the Holiday Extras story and how their value-led approach to everything they do helps to inspire and engage their staff.

With over 4 million bookings in 2017/18 and offices in the UK and Germany, the Holiday Extras group has managed to maintain its values and create an engaged workforce which consists of over 900 employees.

After hearing how to integrate values and create an engaging culture, members were challenged to discuss their own methods and ways they can improve their own companies.


Graham Palfrey-Smith Interviews Finlay James’s John Gaughan

TRN board member Graham Palfrey-Smith took to the stage next, interviewing Finlay James’s John Gaughan, who with the help of The Recruitment Network has seen extraordinary growth. John shared his vision for Finlay James and how they found their purpose. After 2 years of change and reflection on his business, Finlay James grew their profits and employees, now with two branches; one in London and one in San Francisco.

One of the most significant changes John spoke about was the introduction of Project Freedom. This idea started for him before he got into recruitment as he realized most people were concentrating on what they would do when they got home. Project Freedom was John’s answer to increasing engagement and ownership within Finlay James and has been an incredibly successful scheme which allows his employees to decide their working hours and set targets.


Mark Essex – Calm Seas or Stormy Waters

After lunch and in keeping with the theme of sailing through adversity, we introduced Mark Essex to the stage. Mark is an expert advisor on the potential impact of Brexit and presented to members how they could navigate the calm seas or stormy waters that Brexit could bring.

Mark predicted that the UK would leave the European Union and has since spent his time closely monitoring the potential economic impact on businesses. Starting with dispelling the six myths that surround Brexit, Mark then hosted a live Q and A session with members. Interesting questions from members included, ‘how will Brexit affect immigration policies and work permits?’ and ‘Is there a possibility of the deadline being extended, or even a second referendum vote?’.

After members had asked their most important questions, they were set an interactive challenge where they had to collaborate and come up with ways to prepare in their businesses for the different potential Brexit outcomes.


Nigel Risner – How to Create Impact & Communicate like a ZooKeeper

To bring a close to the day and leave a lasting impact, we invited Nigel Risner to the stage. Nigel offered a different speaker experience and opened by questioning whether members could expect their staff to be “in the room” when they struggle to be at times.

‘Feedback is not the breakfast of champions – feedforward is’

Nigel provoked discussion by questioning the difference between the managers and leaders in the room, suggesting that you need to be a leader if you’re working with people and a manager if you have to manage processes/products as well.

After this, Nigel challenged the members’ communication skills and asked them to decide which of the four animal personality types they were; Lion, Dolphin, Elephant or Monkey.  Nigel demonstrated different ways of communicating with the four types and gave advice on how to be a zookeeper – a leader who can talk and lead the different types of employees in their business.


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