Matt Nicholls

Managing Director

Career Path to Your Current Position

I had my own recruiting business in the UK and sold that and took two years off. I came to Japan and was Director of contracting at one of the larger companies and have also been MD of a very large Japan business. The time felt right to start something new and fresh with a modern outlook and approach to the recruiting business in 2020.

Years in Recruitment

18 years total in the UK and Japan

Industries Covered/Worked

In the UK: Sales and Marketing. In Japan: nearly every job sector and function, contract work, the full range

Specialties / Skills

Sales and Marketing is a core strength and helping teams grow rapidly

Achievement/s You`re Most Proud of

Setting up a new startup company in the current climate and hitting first year targets. Obtaining financing from Morgan Stanley to help with its growth targets is something I am proud of.

Company Culture/DNA

We are a very modern business that is not encumbered with rules and expectations that can be the case with the larger more established brands. We have an excellent blend of high-achieving experienced recruiters and senior managers, with a modern forward looking approach. More importantly, we have big ambition, we are not starting this to stay small, we intend to grow rapidly, and that is why we have a big investor.

Tell us something unique about how you (or your company) operate

We have very ambitious growth plans, but wish to retain the integrity of our core culture and personality, as above. There is no company, to my knowledge, in the Tokyo market that has these sort of exciting growth plans. To reflect this, we offer one of the best commission structures in this market.

What is the most important attribute you typically look for in a candidate when hiring for your team/company?

We look for two essential things, one is someone who is resilient and who has the skills to build relationships. Having interviewed thousands of people over the years, I have a series of questions that I use to tease out information on these two attributes. Intuition also pays a large part of it, after 18 years in the industry, you get a good sense to know who will work for you. We tend to hire people that we like on a social level, nice people. We are not looking for a ‘lone wolf’ character, they have to be able to work in our team and be a likeable employee.

What has been your biggest career challenge?

The Current one!

What is most gratifying about your role?

It is watching staff develop in the business from day one, being inexperienced, perhaps scared of clients to seeing them three years later, with a super confident personality, different clothes, earning a lot of money. That is what I get a kick out of, its amazing to see.

What goals do you have for the coming year?

It is very much headcount related, so we are aiming for a total headcount of between 40 – 50 people, from its current 15. We have signed a lease of a much larger A-Grade office in Marunouchi which we are due to move into in the next few weeks. Essentially, we are looking to make the market aware of our presence a little bit, and treat us a serious competitors, we are not there yet, but aim to be so in 12-months time.

Tell us one change you would be very happy to see happen related to recruitment in Japan?

I would like to see clients concentrate less on the volume of CVs that they require, but more on getting the person to fill the role. Spend less time comparing CVs but more on the quality of the CV. They could be a bit more decisive in this regard.

Any random thoughts you`d like to share about the Japan TA/Recruitment market?

Its a really unique market, but in many ways its straightforward. I would like to see more consultants coming in from other markets to Japan. I have had some great success in the past recruiting staff into Japan from other markets. Many don’t realise that you can do the job and not have to be fluent in Japanese. That is more thing I would like to see, recruiters coming into Japan from more competitive markets.

Hobbies: How do you unwind outside of the job?

Everything to do with sport, I am a huge Everton Football fan. Spending time with my kids, and watching my son play football takes up a lot of my time. I am also interested in boxing and MMA.

Any Pet Peeves?

People looking for shortcuts. Unless you are really naturally talented, most people improve at something through hard work, repetition and experience.

Most Memorable Placement/Hiring Story

It was back in the UK, I had a position for a senior marketing role in a large Italian brand. I had to go down to London to meet with the client, which was quite a tough meeting as I didn’t have any suitable candidates to fill the role and they were having no luck.

I came out of the meeting and was walking into the train station carrying this Italian brand’s brochures and a lady approached me looking at the brochure. She asked me if I worked for them as she would be interested to work for them. I said no, but I was recruiting for them. She happened to be marketing director for one of their minor competitors, and I ended up placing her in the job. It was my biggest ever deal!

If you hadn`t gone into recruitment what would you have been?

Probably a lawyer.

Your last meal on earth, what would it be?

A bacon sandwich, comprising of Danish bacon, wholemeal bread with HP brown sauce. (I am not averse to using ketchup, but this is my last meal after all)

Tell us an unusual fact about yourself that your friends might not already know.

Some people may find this hard to believe these days, but when I was 17, I ran the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds.

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