International start up case study

Client profile

    • Client: Chris Tawney 
    • Job title: Chief Financial Officer 
    • Company name: Nexwell Power 
    • Industry: Renewable energy 
    • Client aim: Recruit a financial controller comfortable working in an international business 

Background

Nexwell Power acquires, develops and operates solar panel plants, with the aim of combating climate change. A start-up with operations in Spain and a head office in the UK, the business is unusual in its need for staff that have a good understanding of both cultures. Chris Tawney is the company CFO and engaged Artemis Clarke to recruit a financial controller. Chris had previously been through Artemis Clarke’s unique candidate vetting process so knew what to expect from the individuals put forward for the role. The candidate assessment gives a good insight into technical ability meaning Artemis Clarke could go beyond the written CV and personality traits to give Nexwell a rounded picture of each candidate’s suitability.  

We spoke to Chris Tawney, to hear his take on the experience of working with Artemis ClarkeHere’s how placing the right candidate has made a difference to his life, and the business:

The challenge: recruit a capable finance professional for an international business

What was the problem you needed to resolve with Artemis Clarke’s help?  “I was looking to recruit a financial controller for a business operating in Spain. It was key that the individual was comfortable working in a start-up, as well as having all of the skills you would expect.” How has working with Artemis Clarke changed your business or improved it? “The process was very successful. All the candidates I met were good and all of them could have done the role. The guy I hired has found his feet and is doing well. It’s made a big difference to my life, as I’ve handed over the systems implementation and accounting. In that respect, freeing my time has moved the business forward. “When I talked through the job spec with Artemis Clarke, I mentioned that a Spanish-speaking candidate would be a bonus but it wasn’t a must-have. In the end, the long list was six candidates and three were Spanish-speaking. The candidate who got the job is a Spanish national based in London, which has been extremely helpful. Even though I hadn’t stipulated this as a ‘must-have’, Artemis Clarke made sure a significant proportion of the long list were Spanish speaking. This was a value-add; Artemis Clarke contributed without my specifically asking for it and it’s made a big difference.”

Financial recruitment for start-ups: a challenging proposition?

What’s unique about recruiting for start-ups, in your experience?  

“Start-ups are hard to recruit for. If candidates haven’t been informed properly by the recruiter, there’s a big risk. When the candidate discovers what the role entails and that there won’t be the big company or corporate infrastructure that they’re perhaps used to – an IT department or a travel department for example – they step away. That’s why it’s so important to work with a recruiter that ‘gets it’ and can find suitable candidates.” 

How was your experience of the start-up recruitment market? 

“Mixed! I could have gone to a national ‘high-street’ finance recruiter. I have done so before, and they will do a job for you. To be honest, they are more high-volume operators and as a result you don’t feel particularly valued or that the recruiter is particularly interested – they only want to fill the role.” 

The benefit of working with a specialist financial recruiter who understands start-ups

How was your experience of working with Artemis Clarke?  

“It’s been great. I was looking for a recruiter who would understand the start-up market, how growing businesses work – someone who wouldn’t treat the process like a sausage machine! In a start-up, every head counts. Each team member has a vital role to play and so I needed someone who would take the trouble to think about it and compile a long list accordingly. Artemis Clarke delivered in spades.” 

What did Artemis Clarke do that was particularly helpful?  

“When I was ready to recruit, we had a specific conversation about the company and role – all very straightforward. ‘Fit’ is very important – for most roles there will be a number of candidates who could do the role, but they’ve got to like me and I’ve got to like them. Artemis Clarke took the time to know me, in order to understand the type of person I’d like to work with, so fit is important. 

“The vetting process and tests were helpful too. I felt I was recruiting a fairly specific and unusual role and wanted someone who would understand that and proceed accordingly. The testing was evidence that Artemis Clarke put in that extra effort.” 

How important is the personal touch? 

“Very. I can’t fault Artemis Clarke. I’ve always preferred the personal touch and I think it’s important to deal with someone who knows me and the business so the process will be much more targeted. A general recruiter would have simply fired a load of CVs at me and at least some of them would have been unsuitable. With Artemis Clarke I was sent a very restricted and targeted CV collection – all of which I interviewed. I think it was six candidates, and they were all good candidates, showing that Artemis Clarke really had understood the role I was recruiting for.” 

Artemis Clarke’s take on recruiting finance professionals

The right person in the right business is key to financial recruitment 

It’s been wonderful working with Chris and Nexwell. The company is doing some really innovative things in the green energy space, work that is having a genuinely positive impact on the planet. We’re thrilled we can support people who aren’t only entrepreneurial but who want to make a difference.  

It’s great to hear that hiring a financial controller has made a tangible difference. As Chris explains, the right person in such a role stops a senior finance professional, like a CFO, having to worry about the day-to-day. This frees them up to focus on strategy, decision making, and innovation. In fact, since successfully placing a financial controller with them, we have also sourced a Head of FP&A, a good sign that the focus on strategy is working. 

The unusual footprint of the business – operating in Spain via London – is exciting and posed a new challenge for us. Chris’ surprise that half of the long list was Spanish speaking is an excellent advertisement for bespoke recruitment. An independent business that gets to know clients and candidates can seek out skills you aren’t wholly sure you need.  

The start-up challenge 

Start-ups are notoriously difficult to recruit for; it takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur and a certain kind of person to work in a start-up! Personality is key, as well as having the financial skills you would expect. Someone who comes from a corporate background might be great on paper, though they may not necessarily understand the culture of a start-up business. The advantage of working with an independent recruiter such as Artemis Clarke, is that we are uniquely placed to consider personality, technical ability and cultural fit

Fast-growing start-ups, take your business to the next level with the support of a skilled finance professional. We’re on 0117 244 1891 and happy to help.