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.


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