In this business Interview we speak with Rob McKay who is the managing director of Sherrington Associates which is a high end executive recruitment company and chair at the Institute of Directors for Cheshire. He also is very active in the wider Cheshire business community whether that is through being a judge for Cheshire’s High Sheriff Awards for Enterprise or helping the general economy of Cheshire by working with other business leaders in Cheshire through groups like Cheshire Business Leaders.
Why have you taken the Chair role at the Institute of Directors?
Having been a member of the IoD for many years, I’ve enjoyed huge value both in terms of professional development and connectivity. For me this is chance to really drive the value for members in Cheshire based my own experiences of being a member and wider feedback from the membership community, but also to focus on the broader issues affecting directors and businesses in the region such as tourism, transport and infrastructure, health and wellbeing, skills, diversity and equality, trade and export, climate and environment.
Who in your life has influenced you most and why?
Other than the usual answers of parents and teachers, I’d have to say my business influences have been a mix of old bosses, clients I’ve recruited for and some of the directors I’ve placed over the years. I try to treat every experience as a learning which isn’t always easy, but I think you can find inspiration anywhere if you look for it.
What do you do for fun?
I’d describe myself as an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to sports, but hobbies include triathlon and travel. I’m also involved with my daughter’s karate club which is hugely rewarding to see her and the other kids develop.
What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given?
Focus on the ‘why’ before deciding on the ‘how’. People undervalue the power of purpose so often. The temptation to rush into big decisions without having taken the time to check if your decision aligns with your core purpose means you can stray dangerously off-path if you’re not careful. Making checking for alignment habitual makes it so much easier to achieve your longer-term goals and objectives.
What is the biggest challenge in your industry right now?
Working in executive search, there are a number of variables right now. The advent of new technologies is changing how search firms look for talent and how they manage the candidate experience, but ultimately the need for interpersonal judgement will never be replaced. More broadly speaking, ongoing market uncertainty makes candidates more risk-adverse when it comes to moving roles but that can also have advantages for search firms when employers need a more proactive approach to engage the best passive directors.
How is Brexit affecting/going to affect your business?
No one really knows. From a recruitment perspective it depends what sector you work in, but organisations always need good leaders so executive search typically does well in times of uncertainty. I worry for the wider economy though. Government needs to make some decisions and quick. The IoD have issued general advice to it’s members which I know has been helpful for some of the businesses I talk to involved in exporting to the EU.
Where do you believe are the biggest opportunities right now the IoD?
The IoD has changed a lot in recent years and continues to evolve to the needs of it’s members. Cheshire is a polycentric county made up of towns and cities with very different identities and individual social and economic challenges. The IoD Cheshire committee is currently working with a number of other business groups and institutions in the county to use our collective influence to improve conditions for businesses located in Cheshire and the people who work here. If we collaborate effectively rather than compete then we’ve got a real chance to do some good.
What do you most enjoy about running your business?
The freedom. Running a business means you have a blank canvass to create whatever you want and being instinctively creative that’s something I thrive on. That and the amazing people I work with every day!