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7 Questions with Ian M. Franklin
7 Questions with Ian M. Franklin
Name: Ian M. Franklin
Current title: Founder/Group CEO
Current organisation: Stickfest Group Ltd
West Yorkshire, UK based Ian M. Franklin, is a 66 year old influential, well connected, passionate entrepreneur and highly experienced International Talent, CEO/CXO-Level Recruitment/Search Industry Leader & a skilled Company Director/Board level Professional, with nearly 40 years experience in the 'people industry'. Founder/Group Chief Executive Officer of the UK based Stickfest Group Ltd AWARDS:- WINNER: Best New International Family Office Talent Search Firm 2020 by SME News UK Enterprise Awards & WINNER (Joint): CEO of the Year 2020 awarded by the CEO Monthly Magazine
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
I think it would be fair to say that I launched the Stickfest Group in 2018 with minimal funding, which in itself, has been one of the biggest challenges. However, growing the Business on an organic basis has allowed us to put in place a business model based on entrepreneurialism, that has proven to allow our brand, story, name and logo to become familiar, especially to the sectors that we serve as well as to place us in a great position for when the global Pandemic lockdowns have been eased. Of course, the Pandemic itself has created new challenges, not just for an SME like Stickfest but for every business. Fortunately, with the very entrepreneurial team at Stickfest Group, and with the great talent, expertise, knowledge and connections that we have as a Company, we have been able to create new partnerships and collaborations with other businesses globally where we may have equal synergies, where we can work with them as much as they can work with us on certain mandates and projects. In some ways, initiatives like our Affiliate Partner Scheme have softened the blow of the Pandemic and will allow us with our Partners to look at other initiatives as well as to come out the other side of the Pandemic intact and with a pre-planned strategy for great growth. From challenges within an SME, positives can be achieved!
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have worked in international recruitment and search & selection since the early 1980's, mainly within investment banking, private banking, finance, family office, HNW/UHNW, retail and logistics. But it wasn't until the 2008/09 recession that made something within me create a new recruitment Business, I saw that recession as a strategic opportunity to start an enterprise when others were failing. There were successes to that Business which culminated in a sale in 2011. After that, I 'jumped over the wall' to become a 'Hirer' rather than a 'Recruiter' by being part of the Leadership Team as a Chief Talent Officer for an international Business. During the early to middle part of 2018, I was being asked (independently) if I could help a medium sized global Firm to source C-Suite candidates for their offices in the US and in Singapore. This planted the seed of Stickfest, which commenced trading on the 1st November 2018 as a Consultancy, when I placed the first of those two roles. I eventually resigned from my main job as a Chief Talent Officer to concentrate on developing Stickfest Ltd., which ultimately became the Stickfest Group.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am an animal of routine! Being a divorcee, I live on my own, so it is just myself who I have to manage. In fact, the Pandemic has allowed me to structure my day even more than usual as I am not travelling anywhere, either on business or leisure. So, every weekday, my alarm wakes me at 7am, I go through the same routine of 'pre-work ' before I sit at my desk at 8.15am. At 1pm I stop for a light lunch whilst watching the News on the TV, back to my desk at 1.30pm and unless I have calls booked, I tend to stop at around 6pm for my evening meal, a glass or two of a decent red wine and relaxation in front of the TV whilst chatting to my Daughter who lives 250 miles away and my close friends on WhatsApp and Messenger, before retiring to bed at somewhere between 10.30pm and 11pm. When we are not in a lockdown, I will often take an extra 45 minutes during the day to go for a drive in my car, one of the advantages of living where I do is that within just a few minutes of getting into my car I can be driving on the moors of The Pennines where the scenery is fantastic and is great therapy for clearing the mind. I am also a keen photographer, so I usually have my camera kit with me, or of course, my iPhone camera is pretty good too.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Although I have been in 'Leadership' for a long time, I can easily say that I am learning leadership lessons continually. You have to learn these lessons to be an effective leader which I believe to be one of my mantras. To identify the most recent significant leadership lesson though is easy; become an inspiration to others by creating a legacy that can live on and ensure that the legacy that you leave has the flexibility to grow and continue to succeed.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can
you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I often see on Linkedin and other media, posts by successful entrepreneurs stating the books that they have read that have inspired them to become who they are. However, it is very rare that I read a book for pleasure, enjoyment or inspiration....it's not something that I enjoy doing. If I am to identify anything or anybody that or who has had a 'profound impact' on my leadership, it is by reading posts and articles on those who have succeeded professionally through their own distinct efforts by maybe being innovative, disruptive or even just by providing a service or product at exactly the right time, for the right reason to exactly the right customer/client base.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I believe that whilst a Leader in an SME does have to have the knowledge, intelligence and opinion of a 'thought leader' for their business to exist, survive and grow, I believe it crucial and critical that the best leaders have others around him/her to advise, assist and in some situations, take on a leadership role themselves. Let me take my Company as an example; no matter how good, or how experienced and skilled a leader you are, I do not believe that one individual, possibly the CEO or MD, has a 360 degree ability to know, understand, comprehend every single thing within his or her business. I am no exception to that and it is as important for me and others to know my weaknesses as a CEO as much as my strengths. Whilst building and constructing Stickfest, I created a Board that includes a selection of the best business minds, all of whom I previously knew professionally, all of whom can advise me on any areas associated to finance, investment, sales, marketing, business development, social media, operations, etc etc., at any time. It is extremely unusual for me to make any unilateral decision, unless extremely urgent, without consulting with my Board Advisories first. I believe it also important that for my Company to grow and succeed, for all of the global Team to have advisory functions to the Board as well. The 'buck' may stop with me at the upper level of the Business and I am ultimately responsible for its success, but at least everyone within Stickfest will have made corporate contributions to its success and will continue to do so.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Again, I will relate this to the Stickfest Group. I have looked at the word; 'meaningful' in the question which has so many definitions. But to pick one story, I am a big fan of defining the answer to 'What is a brand?' My favourite answer is what the story is behind the brand and what the image of that brand is that will stay in peoples minds. Most products (tech, domestic, automotive, aerospace, fashion, etc) have a brand that people can relate to, this being what I hope for 'Stickfest' as it continues to grow, by being the name that our global client and prospect base will think of when they are looking at recruitment and search consultancy. That name; 'Stickfest' then has an image that is relatable, ie; the logo, so we have a logo that is simple but can be remembered. Our logo is also protected in UK law as a Registered Trade Mark so it can't be used elsewhere without our written agreement signed by myself. But the name and the logo has to have a story behind it, Stickfest is no exception. We are often asked as to how the name ‘Stickfest’ originated. In 2011, a Social Enterprise was formed in a small Village called Stainland in West Yorkshire, UK, by a group of young people, co-ordinated by myself. This Enterprise was named ‘Stainland Sticklers’ and the objective was for each of us as individual Members of the Stainland Sticklers, to nominate one UK based charity each, for whom we would raise funds through sponsorship by undertaking certain types of challenges. One of these challenges was to organise an all-weekend music festival in Halifax, West Yorkshire, this event to be known and branded as Stickfest. Eventually, Stickfest and Stainland Sticklers were dissolved due to academic commitments and other work activities of most of the Members. However, I retained the name of Stickfest and ultimately formed and created Stickfest Ltd, then Stickfest Group Ltd as the brand for the global recruitment/search/talent Group that it is today. The result being that the brand; ‘Stickfest’ is becoming synonymous with the Talent/Recruitment/Search Profession with a prime focus in the global Family Office sector as well as a selection of other verticals.