Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Meet Tom Johnson, the CEO of high-end technology and engineering specialists, Hernshead Group

Driven by an unwavering belief in the importance of partnerships over placements, Hernshead Recruitment was initially established by experienced recruiter Tom Johnson in 2019, with a clear niche in the technology, manufacturing, and engineering sectors.

With ambitious plans to scale the business, Tom approached Lord Sugar for investment in 2019, and secured substantial backing via the business tycoon’s private investment vehicle, Amsvest.

Since this time, Tom has worked closely with Lord Sugar and his team to establish the Hernshead brand, while building out an overarching group structure to support its expansion into wider markets. We sat down with Tom to find out more.

Give us the Hernshead elevator pitch. What do you specialise in? How many people do you employ? Anything our readers should be aware of?

Hernshead Group is a specialist recruitment group, comprising of an advanced engineering recruitment agency, sales & marketing recruitment agency and a data science/AI focused recruitment agency. The group employs over 20 people across the three brands and was launched with backing from Lord Sugar.

How did you get started in recruitment?

I started in recruitment at Matchtech (now Gattaca) in 2012 having finished my university degree in psychology with a focus on economics. A great place to start and a fantastic place to learn all about recruitment.

Tells us about the Hernshead approach to recruitment?

All our brands have the same core approach – support a specific niche, provide a high-quality service (quantity over quality) and be more than just recruitment by putting the focus on helping to grow your clients’ businesses. As a group, we help specialised recruiters who are looking to launch their own agency by investing in their business from day one, while providing a salary and all the infrastructure and support to get their business off the ground.

Do you have any plans to expand?

We plan to expand our existing brands into new core markets, with a particular focus on the US market. Within the group, we’re looking to invest in and help launch 10 new recruitment agencies in the UK, and we’re already speaking to a number of experienced recruiters looking to make that jump.

What exciting new trends are you noticing in the engineering and tech sectors?

It’s been a tough year within recruitment and industry in general, but we’re seeing the importance being placed on niche specialist agencies and companies placing great scrutiny on the quality of recruiters they use. I can only see this increasing over the coming years.

What makes a recruitment professional in your eyes?

Resilience, commitment and tenacity are all crucial skills for a good recruiter to have. However, the most important skill remains being consultative – especially in tough markets. The ability to consult, open a role and guide your client is the difference between a good recruiter and a great recruiter.

How do you think the recruitment industry will evolve over the next decade?

No doubt the rise of AI & machine learning will play a huge role as the recruitment industry evolves. However, it’s crucial that we use it in the right way, to automate and speed up manual, time consuming tasks to free up more time to have conversations with clients and candidates.

What has been the high point of your recruitment career and also the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

The high point so far has been launching Hernshead Group and convincing Lord Sugar to become a 50/50 business partner and provide investment from day one – that was a real statement of belief in what we wanted to do. In terms of the greatest challenge, running and leading your own business, and juggling everything that comes with that is always challenging, but that’s what makes it so fun.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

To always take risks and be brave, as you’ll make it work.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

Outside of my young family and spending time with them, mostly football and my newfound love for golf.