We sat down with Andrew Harvey to discuss his background in marketing and communications and how that enabled his successful career in recruitment, ultimately taking him to the very top position of CEO at VMA GROUP.
Andrew studied Business at Bournemouth University, which sparked his interest in marketing and communications. After graduation, he worked as a Marketing and Communications Executive within the financial sector. While he enjoyed his role, he decided he wanted to take on new challenges, develop commercial relationships with clients and run a successful business. Five years later, Andrew took the opportunity to become a Marketing and Communications Recruitment Consultant. With a deep understanding of the discipline, he excelled at his new role, and eventually started on the path to develop his career as a manager, director and ultimately a CEO.
Why did you move into recruitment, and why VMA GROUP in particular?
A lot of people working in communications and marketing talk about becoming CEOs one day, but not a lot of them are able to achieve that. In my experience, when you’re working in marketing and communications, you are often in a support role to the leaders of the business. After five years, I no longer wanted to just support the leaders – I wanted to be a business leader myself. Moving into recruitment has given me this opportunity.
For me, VMA GROUP is the frontrunner in the communications recruitment market. It had the heritage, strong brand recognition and respect from people in the industry. Now 43 years on, VMA GROUP still remains a leader in the field.
How did your experience in communications and marketing help you to prepare for your role in recruitment?
My background in communications and marketing gave me an instant understanding of the roles that I would be recruiting for. When a client briefed me on a specific role, even before discussing the job description, I already knew the skills that may be required for the job. That gave me a strong start in the industry and allowed me to become a better consultant more quickly.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a Chief Executive?
You are faced with so many challenges every day because everything in the organisation is within your remit – from technology and legal, through to marketing, hiring, and facilities management. The breadth of the role is a big challenge.
However, I cannot be a good CEO without great people on my team. My biggest challenge therefore is to make sure that I hire and retain great talent for VMA GROUP. Ultimately, if we’re a business populated with brilliant people, we will deliver brilliant results for our clients and customers.
What do you wish that you knew 15 years ago?
For me, it’s about continued learning. The world that we live in and the jobs that we do are constantly changing and evolving.
So, I would give this advice to my younger self, as well as anyone looking to further their career - keep learning and developing to stay ahead of the challenges that you will face. To truly develop, you often need to put yourself outside of your comfort zone – even if it may be tough or unenjoyable for a period of time.
How do you manage work/life balance and how do you unwind?
Recruitment is a busy, fast-paced environment that can be very demanding. Therefore, it’s important to create space to relax, destress and unwind and ensure you have a life outside of work.
During evenings and weekends, I switch off my work phone. When I turn off my phone on Friday evening, I don’t check my emails again until Monday morning. This allows me to be more productive and focused during the work week.
If you could retire to anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose?
Right where I live. I was born and bred in the North Cotswolds, so if I could retire tomorrow, it would be right here. I consider myself incredibly lucky to say that I have a career that I enjoy, working with fantastic people that I respect, whilst at the same time, enjoying my personal and home life in a beautiful part of the world.
Finally, do you have any advice for anyone who might be considering a career move, from marketing or communications into recruitment?
Firstly, it can be a great career move and I highly recommend it! Having made the move myself 15 years ago, I have no regrets.
For those thinking about making the move, consider your reasons carefully and make sure you’re aware of both the opportunities and challenges of working in the recruitment sector – because the highs can be fantastic, but the lows can be very demanding. Doing your research first is the key. I would welcome the opportunity, to speak to anyone currently working in communications or marketing that is interested in considering a career move into recruitment.
VMA GROUP is a leading international interim and permanent communications, digital and marketing recruitment and executive search specialist. Specialist practices cover corporate communications, internal communications, change communications, PR, media relations, CSR, public affairs, investor relations, marketing, digital and agency services.
We have a reputation for providing leading consultancy services and advice supported by in-depth knowledge of the professions we recruit for. Our thought leadership and benchmarking studies have become go-to resources for the communications and marketing industry supporting planning and decision-making.
VMA GROUP has offices in London, Manchester, Amsterdam and Brussels, but we work with organisations and individuals on a global basis.