30 years of growth, surprises and memorable candidates

As part of Brewer Morris’s 30th anniversary celebrations, I sat down and interviewed the man who co-founded the business back in 1987, Mark Brewer, and fondly look back at the last 30 years of the company. Among a whole host of topics we discussed his vision for the company 30 years ago, his predictions for the recruitment industry and my personal favourite his most memorable story about a candidate or client.

Mark Brewer; Tax

Matthew Gravelle: Hi Mark. You stepped down as CEO of the SR Group nearly a year ago, almost 30 years after starting Brewer Morris. When you co-founded Brewer Morris back in 1987 did you ever envisage it would still be around 30 years later?

Mark Brewer: Honestly, no, I didn’t! We just wanted to focus on growing a highly-specialised recruitment business focused solely on the tax market, which was a unique proposition at the time. We wanted to set ourselves apart from the general marketplace by providing a highly knowledgeable, articulate, grown up and relationship driven recruitment service.

Matthew: A lot has changed in the last 30 years, although one can draw parallels to the fact that the UK has a conservative Prime Minister, the US President is a tv star and the UK Chancellor is a former Oxford graduate who studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics, but that aside, in your opinion, what has been the biggest change in the recruitment industry within the last 30 years?

Mark: The internet and email by a very long way! Email, in particular, is both a hindrance and a huge benefit. On the plus side, it makes the delivery of information so much faster than when we first started. We used to hand deliver multiple cv’s around the City of London. Can you imagine attempting to do that now? However, it can also depersonalise the recruitment process and make it so much more mechanistic. Despite how beneficial and vital technology is to the recruitment industry, the personal element will always be paramount, I firmly believe this.

Matthew: I completely agree having been in the industry since the early 2000’s. With that in mind, how do you see the recruitment industry changing in the next 30 years?

Mark: With the increasing popularity of job aggregator websites such as indeed and the increasing importance placed on companies such as LinkedIn, the recruitment industry, as with any service provider, needs to be able to justify its existence through providing a great service at the right price and within the right timescale. Specialist recruiters, if they really know what they are talking about, can absolutely do that. We can provide access to highly qualified individuals faster and more comprehensively than any of our clients because we are doing it all the time.

Matthew: With the SR Group continually growing, I’m interested to know that while you were the Head of Brewer Morris, if you could have launched the company into one region, which country would it have been and why?

Mark: Easy…Asia – because it is a huge, complex market with a population of over 4.5 billion people. It is also an entrepreneurial continent with endless growth opportunities. Hopefully, Brewer Morris will eventually have a presence in that region.

Matthew: Finally, onto a more light hearted topic, in your 30+ years of recruitment you must have come across a variety of interesting scenario’s. If you are at liberty to say, what is your funniest memory of a candidate?

Mark: Indeed. As you can imagine being in the industry for over three decades I’ve come across a number of ‘interesting’ characters. One memory that stands out in particular was a candidate who got into a fight in the pub the night before his final interview and wearing his one and only suit. His mother managed to sew the arm back on his suit but she couldn’t do anything about his black eye! I rang the interviewing tax partner, who I knew quite well, and tried to reassure her that this was not the candidate’s normal behaviour. He turned up on time for his interview and must have been very honest or very charming as he got the job!

Matthew: Thanks, Mark. It’s been great catching up. Here’s to the next 30 years.

Mark: You’re welcome and happy birthday Brewer Morris.