My First Eight Months at Princedale: From Corporate HR Director to Talent Advisor & Headhunter

By Jamie Homer, Partner at Princedale Partners, July 2017


As you might not know, I’ve just passed the eight month stage as a Partner for a small growth digital leadership executive search and talent advisory firm. Considering you’re reading this right now, one thing you probably do know is that it’s a digital leadership Search & Talent Advisory firm called Princedale Partners, a business set up only a few years ago.
Truth be told, I’m the first Partner to the Founder & Managing Director Rupert Jupp. I met Ru back in my Urban Outfitters days, where I was Group HR & Business Development Director. We did some work together and I always liked his honesty and style. Returning to my executive search roots made perfect sense for me. I grew up in retail initially in executive search way back in the day, and the opportunity of partnership at Princedale was simply too good to pass up. I needed a change, I wanted to do something different anyway.
Since making the switch, I’ve traded weekly visits to Paris, Barcelona & Munich and quarterly trips to New York and Hong Kong for train rides to Redditch, Manchester, Cheltenham and Bath to name a few more local places. Having grown up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, it seems crazy to say but after seven years as the Group HR & Business Development Director for URBN Urban Outfitters Inc with an EMEA remit, I was actually getting bored of visiting Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Munich. I mean, how many times can one person travel on the Eurostar to Paris for work anyway?! It felt like I was neither seeing nor doing much in Paris and the process became repetitive as well: station, hotel, retail, walk, dinner, bed, station, home.
The story of business travel being boring is indeed true. It took me a while, mind you, to bore of travelling for work, a long while… but I finally did. It was also hard to maintain any kind of personal life when I was gone in the week, each week, and then on dad duty each weekend. While I traded a seemingly ‘glamorous’ international travel developing business and interviewing the global retail community, I’ve also traded a big team (who truthfully did most of the work anyway), a large expense account, company credit card and big budget to play with, for now having to be conscious of every penny we spend – I’m talking about printing, ink cartridges, taxis…you name it.
The transition from big corporate into smaller (not quite, but almost) start-up has been a big leap for me. Probably not quite the kind of leap I was expecting, but certainly the kind of leap I needed. It’s a totally different skill-set that is now being asked of me and it’s been wonderful for my day-to-day to become truly hands-on, detailed and grounded. It takes me back to my early days at Urban when I was the standalone Talent Director and even to my first few years building the search capability for the Selfridges Group internally – all by myself.
After ten years of being client side, in-house or corporate (whatever term you fancy), I was ready for something new, something different and something truly more entrepreneurial. And that’s what I have. Now, if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. No more delegating. No more outsourcing. No more passing the ‘corporate’ buck of responsibility down the chain. It’s all on me.
A great example of this is the creation here of a new offering, namely the proactive Digital Talent Pipeline. The concept – one I first built ten years ago running global recruitment for the Selfridges Group – is something I am very proud to have helped create at Princedale Partners so far. We’ve essentially turned a traditional, reactive, outsourced service into a proactive, talent proofing offering – it’s the kind of thing that search firms and talent advisers will need to adapt to moving forward. It’s an evolved and forward thinking talent sourcing model that, in my opinion, represents the future of smart hiring and in fact good business management.
So far I’ve done some pretty cool work too on the executive search side too including with Boohoo, one of the most talked of ecommerce businesses in Europe, recently placing their new Marketing Director in Manchester. We are also now working with another much loved ecommerce business, LoveHoney – helping them to define their technology roadmap for the next few years. A couple of examples of the range of work, amongst other brilliant businesses and clients we have been retained by recently.
Ultimately, I love this space that we work in. How do retailers and consumer-facing businesses evolve and meet the changing needs of the consumer? It’s just fascinating. Being an omni-channel business doesn’t just mean trading in multiple formats; it also means creating an internal structure where the right people own the right remits to adapt and react in an agile and effective way. This convergence of Digital and Customer is the space that we here at Princedale Partners are proudly playing in, and it’s an incredibly exciting and interesting place to be. Things move in dog years here and it’s fun trying to keep up.

Digital People Moves Report – Summer 2017

Since our last report in March, the hottest moves in the industry have been as exciting, unexpected and interesting as ever. Here is our summer report for Digital People Moves – appointments that have taken place across the wider marketplace in the last few months. It has been great to see such high levels of activity before we enter the quieter months of July and August.

If you would like to discuss the digital talent market or you have digital hiring needs we can help with, do get in touch.

Best regards,

Rupert signature

Rupert Jupp
Managing Partner

  • Mary Homer / x Topshop / Joins The White Company as CEO
  • Gavin Williams / x eNova / Joins Joins Farfetch as Product Director, Store of the Future
  • Nicola Huet / x Practicology / Joins Ralph Lauren as Digital Marketing Director EMEA
  • Jerry Dakin / x Carat / Joins Diageo as Head of Digital Media Partnerships
  • Murray Beckett / x Green Man Gaming / Joins Boohoo as Marketing Director
  • Angela Morrison / x Direct Line /Joins Debenhams as IT & Supply Chain Director
  • Jennifer Pasiakos / x Nasty Gal / Joins The Business of Fashion as Head of Marketing
  • Richard Clark / x Boohoo / Joins N Brown as International Director
  • David Buttress / x Just Eat / Joins 83North a General Partner
  • Ray Gammell / Etihad Airways / Moves to Interim CEO
  • James Williams / x Jigsaw / Joins Phase Eight as Director of Marketing and Online Trading
  • Gwynn Milligan / x Jaeger / Joins Jojo Maman Bebe as Commercial Director
  • Alex Williamson / x Goodwood / Joins House of Fraser as CEO
  • Alex Horstmann / Thomas Cook / Moves to Group Digital Director
  • Glyn Williams / Card Factory / Moves to Multichannel and Customer Director
  • Christian Woolfenden / x Lyst / Joins PhotoBox as Managing Director
  • Jason Merron / x Sainsbury’s / Joins Amazon as Director of Inventory Management Automation
  • Sean Foster / x Crowdtap / Joins Coty as SVP Global Ecommerce
  • Sarah Speake / x Clear Channel / Joins Truphone as Interim Global Marketing Director
  • Andy Harding / x HoF / Joins Mothercare as Chief Customer Officer
  • Claire Hennah / x Selfridges / Joins Unilever as Global Ecommerce Director, Personal Care
  • Jason Trout / x Exponential / Joins Unruly as MD EMEA
  • John Veichmanis / Farfetch / Moves to CMO
  • Jonathan Dees / x The Fairtrade Foundation / Joins The Property Software Group as COO
  • Hugh Fahy / x Notonthehighstreet / Joins MYOB in Australia as GM Engineering
  • David Knowles / x 4Finance / Joins Matches Fashion as Interim CTO
  • Mark McClennon / x Unilever / Joins Burberry as Global CIO
  • Rob Silsbury / x Ralph Lauren / Joins Dune as Ecommerce and Marketing Director
  • Robin Philips / x Boots / Joins Kurt Geiger as Director of Digital

Digital Executive, Chris Worle, on his meteoric rise to the Hargreaves Lansdown boardroom

As a search firm which specialises in the digital growth & transformation space, the evolution we’ve seen Hargreaves Lansdown go through over the last decade has been phenomenal to watch. There is no doubt it’s one of the UK’s greatest success stories of a home-grown business, based in Bristol becoming a FTSE100 digital first business and pioneer in online stockbroking and investments.

Chris Worle is the guy behind the last six years of digital transformation and innovation at Hargreaves Lansdown and he has had a meteoric rise to the boardroom after joining the Board as Group Digital Marketing Director in 2015 at the tender age of 32. Chris let us fire some questions at him based around his career as it’s very rare these days to see someone stay for such a long tenure at any one company.

Chris has been driving both the digital marketing agenda and the digital strategy of the business since 2010 and as digital leadership headhunters we are impressed by his meteoric rise, one that has kept up to speed with the impressive growth of the company he joined as a very young man over 10 years ago (aged 21!).

What falls under your remit at Hargreaves Lansdown?

I have two main briefs; I drive all the group digital marketing efforts as well as the overall digital strategy reporting directly to the CEO, Ian Gorham.

When you reflect on being in the driving seat for all things Digital, do you feel that you have been the driving force behind a standout single outcome?

It’s hard to say. I never realised this at the time but when I look back, this business has changed incredibly fast over the years since I joined and at Hargreaves Landsown we are increasingly trying to think of ourselves as a totally digital business and less like an FS company; we’re on that journey where it’s less about being a digital team within the business but the firm as a whole being a digital business.

Can you think of a moment that was catalytic in your career progression at Hargreaves Lansdown?

One of my greatest frustrations back in 2010-2013/14 was there was nobody responsible for digital on the Board driving the agenda. Everyone on the Board knew digital was important but nobody understood it then, as it was so new. Dharmash Mistry (x Balderton VC & NED at Dixons) joined the Board as NED and gave me and the team external validation we needed to get us going firmly in the right direction.

Did you have a career plan when you left university?

I studied business and economics at university and wanted to get into “business” but didn’t know exactly what that meant or how and where I was going to do it. The opportunity with Hargreaves Lansdown came up and it seemed perfect. There was no plan B so I jumped at it.

What was HL like when you joined? Size, population, type of business?

I joined in 2003 when we were around 450 people. Now we’re over 1000 and a proud member of the FTSE100. We’re also based in Bristol where we’ve always had our roots albeit the business I joined was very different to what one might imagine.

When I joined, we were just getting into the pensions side of things. Stock-broking was not digital then of course and we had someone solely dealing with new online capabilities for the first time within the business.

In regards to technology and the website we were nowhere but the environment and culture was young, entrepreneurial and full of grads who were working hard and playing hard. We tried things and it was fast-paced but the young energy very much drove the early digital activities that since totally transformed the business into what it is now.

How was Hargreaves Lansdown different to any other stock broker when you joined in 2003?

We had a culture of putting the client first. HL is built on the belief that we can do it better than any other stock broking firm and in regards to the investment platform, there was no marketplace for it, HL created this market for ourselves.

Is there anyone in particular who you can say helped you personally get to where you are now as a board member of a leading FTSE100 business in your early 30’s?

Peter Hargreaves bought me in and we have always had a strong relation. I’ve been careful not to build my career behind any one person as when that person leaves or moves you can quickly become like a fish out of water.  I’ve always been keen to maintain a wide internal network as there is so much to learn from others and the great thing about my role in digital is that it requires me to speak to lots of people across functions. In the early days, I was involved in the insurance category and it didn’t work out but gave me a chance to work with Stephen Lansdown (one of the founders) and Adam Norris (the firm’s former advisory director). If I had my time again I wouldn’t do anything differently.

What advice would you give digital professionals and subject matter experts who are c5 years into their careers and becoming masters of what they do?

I think it’s harder now. Patience plays a big part. I see some people who aren’t patient enough to build up that experience and knowledge but at the same time you need to be sure in yourself that you’re not treading water, it’s a careful balance. When I’ve been at the point where I’ve thought, my career has plateaued I’ve always made sure I’m learning something. It’s incredibly important to be observant around the business and listen to what’s going on. In digital, there is the opportunity to be the business and not just a small team within the business.

What’s kept me at HL is the culture fit; it works so well and it’s important to find an environment and business that you’re truly happy in. Financial services isn’t an industry I’d ever choose to be in voluntarily but culturally and environmentally HL is a great place to be. It changes so fast and just when you think it’s calming down or settling down something happens and it all changes again – that’s what I love about it.


Chris Worle was interviewed by Rupert Jupp, MD of Princedale Partners in November 2016.