Recruiting & Hiring with Chief Executive Officer of Engage PSG Search, Kevin Cruickshank

Steve interviews Kevin Cruickshank of Engage PSG Search

FEATURING: Kevin Cruickshank, CEO of Engage PSG Search

I’m very pleased to present this special edition of the PEAK IDV EXECUTIVE SERIES announcing Engage PSG Search as the podcast’s Season 2 SPONSOR!

In this episode, I speak with CEO of Engage PSG Search, Kevin Cruickshank.

Kevin has worked in the Reg Tech industry for over 30 years and leads a team of specialists in Executive Search, Go-To-Market, Sales, Marketing, and Product Search.

Kevin shares the origin story of Engage PSG Search, his outlook on 2024, and how leaders and executives can best scale their organization by recruiting and hiring the best talent possible.

RESOURCES:

Connecting with Kevin Cruickshank

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-cruickshank-a0a2b92/

Kevin Cruickshank Email: kevin.cruickshank@engagepsg.com

Engage PSG Search: https://engagepsg.com/contact

Companies & Resources Discussed

Engage PSG Search: https://engagepsg.com/

Dun & Bradstreet: https://www.dnb.com/

Compello Staffing Group: https://www.fpsg.com/compello-t-38

John Lord: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnmichaellord/

GBG: https://www.gbgplc.com/en/

Acuant: https://store.acuant.com/

Idology: https://www.idology.com/

TruNarrative: https://risk.lexisnexis.com/about-us/press-room/press-release/20210825-trunarrative

LexisNexis Risk Solutions: https://risk.lexisnexis.com/

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Announcer: The PEAK IDV EXECUTIVE SERIES with host Steve Craig is about to start. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Engage PSG Search, specialists in executive search, go-to-market, sales, marketing, and product search for digital identity, identity verification, transaction monitoring, fraud, and authentication companies.

Engage PSG Search provides a comprehensive search service to help you find the best leaders and to build out high performing teams. With Engage PSG Search, it's advisory first, then search and now onto the podcast.

Steve Craig: Welcome to the PEAK IDV EXECUTIVE SERIES video podcast where I speak with executives, leaders, founders and change makers in the digital identity space. I'm your host, Steve Craig, Founder and Chief Enablement Officer at PEAK IDV. For our audience, this is a video first series, so if you're enjoying this audio version, please check out the video recording on executiveseries.peakidv.com where you can watch the full episode, read through the transcript and access any of the resources from today's conversation.

I'm very pleased to present this special edition of EXECUTIVE SERIES announcing Engage PSG Search as the Season 2 Sponsor. Today I'm speaking with Engage's CEO, Kevin Cruikshank.

Kevin has worked in the RegTech industry for over 30 years and leads a team of specialists in executive search, go-to-market, sales, marketing, product search, working specifically for digital identity, identity verification, transaction monitoring, fraud, and authentication companies. Kevin has been tremendously supportive of me and PEAK IDV.

And the team at Engage even helped place me as a candidate in my career where I was placed into one of the identity verification companies. Kevin's team was also one of the first teams in my PEAK IDV bootcamp. And now I'm super excited to have them sponsor the podcast. Welcome, Kevin. I'm thrilled to have you here.

Kevin Cruickshank: Ah, great to be here. How are you doing? Happy New Year.

Steve: Happy New Year to you as well! Well, if we can kick off, maybe you can share a little bit more about Engage PSG Search?

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, with pleasure. So, I'm the CEO Engage PSG Search. We are a boutique search firm that specializes, as you said, in very, very tight sectors. We don't just do digital identity and broad and authentication. We also transcend over to the data and insights side. And that all goes back to leveraging my own personal background, which I'm sure we'll go into it a bit. A bit more detail, but fundamentally we work on go-to-market hiring, sales, marketing product and the executive leadership teams that would oversee those, kinds of areas.

And we operate, as you know, in the US, UK serving EMEA and also, we have a presence in Sydney covering the APAC region.

Steve: Excellent. Excellent. That's great background on Engage. When I was studying your personal background prior to the podcast, I see you got started at D&B back in the early nineties. Can you take me back to like 1995, when you were working there and what you were working on?

Kevin: I can, I can. I'm glad you missed out on the first nine years. Because I actually started at D&B in 1984. That's how old I am. But ‘95 is a good time because at that moment I was leading a sales team for D&B.

I was managing the banking and financial services team. It's quite relevant for this kind of audience that may see this in that I've been kind of in and around the risk and compliance space before digital identity or technologies that supported onboarding ever existed.

So I used to work with the compliance teams, the money laundering reporting officers way back looking at their counterparty risk, looking at their customers from a very early anti-money laundering, KYC kind of perspective. So it's kind of been something I've been involved in even before a lot of the digital identity companies actually were formed.

Steve: That's fascinating. You know, a lot of the companies today focused on that digital experience, but these regulations and these processes have existed even back when physical was the only way to do these transactions. When did you make the transition, Kevin, into the recruitment and search and placement space? That was that connected to D&B?

Kevin: No, it wasn't. I mean the first inspiration for it was my best pal from school, actually, set up a recruitment business as it was then. And I got to the point in my career at D&B where I didn't want to become a corporate lifer, you know and if you look at the big, the big sort of data bureaus, the credit bureaus, a lot of people are, and there's nothing wrong with this, but a lot of people are there for life, you know, they start in a junior position and kind of work their way through, but they just stay there.

I hit 30. I didn't really want to be like that. I wanted to do something a bit different. So I actually left D&B and went to a technology business, technology and telco business called Cable and Wireless. And I ran a couple of big, large teams for them. After a couple of years, I wasn't really enjoying that space.

And my pal said to me, look, you'd be fantastic at search. You've got the personality for it. You’ve got the sales ability, you've got the structure, the process. And so I gave it a go. And what I actually did start off with, I set up on my own, I set up a small business on my own, made one placement.

And the one placement was with a company called Vocalis. I will mention that because they're not around anymore, but believe it or not, they were a voice recognition company. So even right back then, I had this sort of connection into, into the sort of biometric space.

But I joined John, my business partner at the time, we built up business, which is still around now, they're called Compello Staffing Group. And then we built that to 160 odd people. So it was a recruitment business of some scale in the UK, probably one of the top, one of the five top privately owned recruitment companies outside of the very big, the very big organizations.

And basically I did an MBO from part of part of that business. In 2019 and so the business that you see now are the very top people that I had in the Engage brand that was sitting within a larger group at that time. And I picked them up and the idea was to have some real specialty within some very tight sort of areas.

Steve:

That's a great history. I didn't realize that a journey that we're on. Let's talk a little bit more about Engage PSG Search as it is today. How is the company set up and structured? You mentioned your locations, but can you describe how you operate?

Kevin: Yeah. So we recognize that the whole regulatory technology kind of area, the regulatory space transcends geography.

So very deliberately set up our business in such a way that we could have reach across the globe. Now, I was in a fortunate situation where I had a London-based guy that wanted to go and work in the US, you know him. We also had a London-based guy that wanted to go to Australia.

So we effectively, what we did was we set up a couple of entities. So we have a US entity. We have an Australian entity and we have a UK entity, which is the, just the main sort of parent business. You know, quite a complex structure for a for a relatively small business. But it's just the way that you have to set things up.

And so we've now got seven year’s experience of actually doing US business. Although we did the MBO in 2019, we actually started trading in the US way before that. So our network is not new. So it's very well established, very mature. As is our client base.

And similarly, we've been in the APAC markets for four years. So all the clients that we tend to deal with, fast growth Series A, B type businesses. And some of the more established businesses that everybody would be aware of as well. They all have that desire to work in and operate in different areas.

So we wanted to make sure we had that coverage and also go where some of the opportunities. I describe my businesses as very mature. I was looking before we jumped on this to see what the average tenure is of the people that work for me.

And it's years, and that's very unusual in a lot of businesses. And that's because I've hired people that I knew from the old business. We have hired some additional people in as well, particularly in the U S but we've always hired people with expertise and a good network. And that's mainly because know that the market needs, needs the expertise.

It doesn't need. Generalist recruitment businesses. We have to be specialists because we need to be able to source the kind of people that our clients can't do directly. And sometimes that takes that takes that deep sort of expertise. So we've got a team of about 12 people right now.

They're kind of split, mainly, UK from London and LA, we've got a team, team of people in LA, and then we've got that small presence in, uh, in, in APAC. Um. Which has been really good for us because the clients also look for that end to end type that type provider that can that can that can recruit those same roles in those different, uh, different regions.

Steve: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I I've personally seen firsthand your team and not to over flatter you. You have a phenomenal group of people who are not just experienced but experts and still hungry. And one of the things that was really great in this last year was your team participated in one of my first training programs.

So I thank you for your support of me and of education. But one of the things that was really exciting about that is your team members were passionate about it. They really wanted to learn more to be able to support not just their clients, but candidates. Can you speak how you see that continual evolution of expertise playing into your work with your clients and your candidates?

How that becomes important to your model?

Kevin: Definitely, definitely. There's a couple of things I'll say. You know, and I, and, and I want, I'll, you know, I'll point this at you, Steve, right? It takes a lot of guts to set up your own, your own business and do something from scratch. So, I've said to you privately, you know, I admire the entrepreneurship, you know, the having, having the guts to actually to step out of corporate and do it.

I've been on that journey. I was 15 years in the corporate world. I threw all that away get into, get into the search game. And I've really enjoyed it. So, but first of all, when we heard that you, that you'd set this up, we wanted to be supporting you because I, you know, admire any, any entrepreneur.

So that's point one. Secondly, expertise is everything for us. So another example, going back to the structure, our chair, the chair of our group is somebody I've known for many years. We used to work together at D&B. But more importantly, he was the Group Managing Director of GBG, who acquired Acuanat and Ideology to give some context for anybody that doesn't actually know who GBG are.

And then he founded and sold True Narrative to LexisNexis Risk Solutions. That's a guy called John Lord. So that we brought John in to give us that expertise in house. And we used the PEAK IDV process to also give the people that are working in the teams that are attached to the digital identity and the regulatory technology space, that depth of understanding, because our view is when you're talking to clients if they think we really know their sector and we really get it, they actually admire the, the knowledge that we, that we tend to have. Secondly, the candidates, and this is really key, when you want to try and attract candidates to, to sometimes, what I would call an underdog brand, somebody that's, you know, in a market where perhaps they, they don't really know who that company is.

They want to talk to somebody, in the search game that actually knows the landscape and can tell those candidates how well those companies stack up, because we know the market very well, we know all the different technologies and we know what platforms perform the best and are the most effective.

We know who white label other people's tech. We know that the organizations that have got their own, the fact that we've got all that knowledge and expertise makes it a lot easier to have that instant credibility with the with the candidate base. The benefit to the clients is that that means we can attract people that otherwise ordinarily might not be able to be attractive. So that that's a key.

That's really a key thing and having this additional sort of training and qualification was excellent. I also did it because I want my team to know that I'm investing in them. And, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, I think they scored, they all scored pretty well. Because they all had pretty good knowledge base level knowledge anyway.

But what, what PEAK IDV did was it made it much more specific? And you went into lots of the technical terms and I think everybody benefited really well out of that.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. And you're, you're absolutely right. Very high marks. Several perfect scores in there really put it, they put in the effort because there's they're showing up, but then there's also really taking the content and putting in the effort for the final exam.

So I really appreciated that. And to be able to take those and apply them, the, the one thing you and I had talked about was, was KYC, but, but for candidates, Know Your Candidate, because if you're going to place them in an organization, you should know how to walk in their shoes and you should know what they're up against in terms of the market dynamic, etc. So that's, that's phenomenal. I couldn't agree more. Well, let's, let's talk a little bit about, uh, the geographies you're in. You mentioned you have offices in London, Los Angeles, Sydney. It gives you really good global coverage, Europe and Americas, APAC. What are some of the differences that you're seeing when it comes to building out teams and, and like personnel in those different regions?

Kevin:

Yeah, I think this is obviously it's a challenge for me being mainly based in London, but I do spend a lot of time in the US as well though. And I've been out to Australia several times. But if I talk about it from the digital identity provider perspective, I would say that as a recruiter, search firms are much more respected in the U S.

I think a lot of that comes from, perhaps the labor laws, you know? So if for example, if I had hunted you, Steve, and said, I've got a great role for you, it's with this particular business. And I asked you for your resume, you'd have your resume ready in the UK. That doesn't tend to happen because most people are on much longer notice period.

So some of the differences around the fluidity of the search market center around the need for search firms being equal with the clients and the candidates. So candidates in the US, we think, we feel tend to respect somebody in a certain capacity more than perhaps in the UK. And I think that's because one of the differences in the UK. There are a lot of these kind of mass market global type recruitment businesses that do everything they do a bit of everything and they don't necessarily have the same expertise and approach that we have. And we often hear from candidates, particularly that their experience with us is very different, but that's because we know that we know the differences in each of the geographies, you know, and, and having a one week, two week at will contract in the States is very different to having a three month or even a six month notice period. You know, in Germany they have this very strange notice period, which is two months, but you can resign at certain parts of the month and make that just one month and one day because the idiosyncrasy is that if you, if you resign at the beginning of the month, you have to work the rest of that month and the whole of the following month.

So having that knowledge and knowing that make means that means that it creates a bit of an edge for us. Having that expertise, you have to have that, but the main parts are around volumes. So, I've said the volumes would be a lot greater in the US, so for every two to three vacancies that you might have in certain discipline in in the UK. You probably got 15 or 20 vacancies of the same in the US, just because of the sheer size and sheer size, the scale. But when you're running a search firm, the sales cycle can be a lot shorter in the US. Longer in the UK. Longer in some parts of some parts of Europe. There are definitely some key differences.

But fundamentally, the headhunting approach, and the management of candidates and the client relationship building and really getting under the hood of our clients and understanding, understanding their own DNA is the same, no matter what the geography is. You just might have to adapt your approach slightly to some of the cultural differences in each of those regions.

But I fundamentally, I really enjoy it because what we're doing is we're taking our expertise in specific sectors to those different geographies. So we have the expertise regardless of the geography, if that makes sense.

Steve: It does. It does. And as you were describing those differences and the similarities, I was thinking about the consultative approach, because I imagine there are CEOs that might be US-based that are growing globally and they see a candidate and they have great interviews and they want to hire them and you tell them, great. Okay. They'll start in three months and three months. Like wait, they're so used to the U S where they can give two weeks notice and they're going to start. So I imagine you've had lots of really good conversations about how you scale and how you plan these roles and the timeline.

Kevin: And what we tend to do, we like to think we've got a bit of advisory in, in what we do. So when we're working on a project or an assignment, we will always start with the end in mind and ask the client when they would like that person in position, in role, and then we'll take the steps back from there.

And then we'll factor in all of the elements such as notice periods and you'd be surprised how many customers just don't understand, particularly US ones, you know, three months notice. Well, three months notice, plus the two months it might take to sort, to actually identify and source and interview the candidates.

You could be looking at five or six months. So you know, one of the things that I always say to the clients is that if you want, if you're thinking about next year's hiring, you need to start sourcing now, you need to start with sourcing now. But of course we were having these conversations three months ago.

And we did see a lot of a lot of our customers starting to come out of the woodwork a little bit and be aware of that because they've all got budgets and targets to hit from Jan 1st. Well, if you leave it until January to start looking for the people where you could be, you could be three, four, five, six months down the line, depending on the geography before that person, starts, let alone starts producing.

Steve: Well, you're in a very unique position in that you see a lot of different scaling cycles at different companies and different stages. It’s almost as if based on what we were just discussing, you need to start recruiting prior to closing your next funding round. You don't close it and then start and there are companies that I know are working on fresh investment.

We've seen in the last quarter, some companies that pulled in more money. What are you seeing coming up in 2024 or what are the beginnings of this year ahead?

Kevin: Yeah. So. Reflecting on that, you know, I can't help but repeat my journey, the last sort of four years, you know, when I think about the moment that we decided that we were going to split off from this group that we were in and the comfort and security of the group to do the MBO with Engage, that was September 2019. And in September 2019, we started off on a journey and then March 2020, COVID hit. And as soon as COVID hit, we thought, well, this is going to really kill the business. This could really have a massive impact and for a month, everything went a bit quiet.

But if you think about it, everyone then went online. So there were more transactions happening online. People were moving their bank accounts around because they suddenly had time to think about where they were putting their money. And therefore more accounts were being opened, more onboarding was happening.

And so what we saw in ‘21 and ‘22 was a lot of investment, a huge PE, VC investment within the digital identity space. We all saw it. High valuations, huge hiring levels. Unicorns popping up left, right and center. And then last year, there was, there was a kind of stalling of that process, you know, with, with much more difficult to get the funding.

So we saw last year as a bit of a sort of holding period. Almost a period where the investors had said, well, you're going to have to have a long runway to your next, to your next round of funding. So you need to make your money last and, and you need to have a look at your roster and have you got the people that are, that are really going to perform take you where you need to be.

And so, 2024, we believe that what's happened in ‘23 is there's been a bit of rightsizing of some organizations also. There’s been definitely a rationalization of salaries. Salaries were kind of out of control. So we've now got a market that it's probably full of organizations that have maybe valued at a more realistic level, but they've laid a lot of people off and they've got some gaps.

What we're finding at the moment is that 2024, I think is going to be about rebuilding those teams and building those teams back up again. We're seeing a lot more optimism, as you mentioned, there have been quite a number of investments announced. I think some of those investments may have been pipelined quite a long time ago but they've done the deals at the right time.

And a lot of organizations also have been sitting on funding as well. They've had funding and they've sat on it longer than they would have done normally. So we think there's going to be growth this year. There will be some consolidation. Some companies are going to disappear. There's no doubt about that as well, sadly.

But we are also seeing some new technologies, new use cases. And so therefore new organizations coming to the fore that are going to need help scaling as well. And you mentioned the point about the hiring piece. You know, what we, what we tend to find is that the last couple of years is all about scale, get as many people on the ground.

Get as many sales guys on the ground, seizing that market share. A lot of the hiring needs at the moment are centered around the boardroom. So have you got the right people in the boardroom to take the company to that 100 million in revenue or three times, 3X, growth per annum, which is what the PE and VC firms look for. So hopefully we've got some optimism in the market, put it that way.

Steve: That's great. And with that correction has occurred and just seeing how the end of 2023 was looking when you look at the different types of companies from a funding level, Series A, Series B, Series C, are there different patterns or modes, like, do you have any observations you could share?

Kevin: Yeah. I mean, I think when you, when you've got those seed, Series A type businesses, what candidates tell us is they're the fun ones, right? And that's the, that's the fun period when companies are at Series A and B. From our perspective, what you tend to find is that when they're very early stage, they're quite product led, engineering led, and therefore most of the roles, are not necessarily in the go-to-market type area.

So when they start moving through those various stages, seeking and securing different levels of funding, obviously there are numbers that these organizations have to have to achieve in order in order to satisfy the investors. And so that's when the growth comes in. So you see some different behaviors at the front end.

Series A, sometimes organizations are trying to find their way there. They're not in, they maybe start to go fast or maybe they hire the wrong people initially. And they have to swap some of those out, and what we find from a recruitment perspective, search perspective is that the in house team, the internal talent teams tend to be less mature.

If they're even there at all. So there's a real need for external support in that, in that early stage. Then you find that they build their own in house team. And then that's when we're still used because you still need specialists because there are crunch times.

There are times when you, you don't have the capacity to be able to hire volume or maybe it could be that there's a discrete search that's needed because you're replacing somebody. As you get through the sort of B and then through to sort of C, D and their IPO, IPO type, you tend to find it's more business as usual.

So, a bit more corporate and a bit more governance around, around what's being what's being done as well. And we enjoy that those kind of early, early stage businesses because often they're bringing in fresh technology as well. Which excites us because we, you know, we're genuinely passionate about the market, not just about finding great sales guys or, or product guys or marketing guys.

We really love the sector that we're in as well. So, so yeah, there are different, definitely some differences, some key, some key differences, some, some obvious, some, some not so obvious.

Steve: It's a great observation. I think as you were describing the differences, about my own career, when I've worked for very large companies, for example, I worked for Hewlett Packard and that recruitment experience was very general, like the person who was recruiting me knew nothing about the role that I was going to take on, that they were just guiding the process.

But then companies that were more early stage, it felt like every single person I spoke with had deep understanding of the role, they knew the space, and so the earlier stage, you need that and oddly enough, I was looking at your LinkedIn profile. I saw a quote in there that really resonated with me.

I'll read it and I want to get your reaction to it. And the quote says, “To be a success in recruitment in the modern era, you have to be able to offer customers deep sector expertise. There is no room for generalist recruiters who do not know what great looks like.” I couldn't agree more. When you're in an early stage role and you're looking at a generalist recruiter, what could happen if you leverage one of those versus someone who has a specialist expertise?

Kevin:

Yeah. I mean, I think it goes back to knowing what good looks like. The way we try and explain our difference to the clients is that we actually know what a good person looks like across the disciplines that we serve within the digital identity space.

And the reason we stay narrow with our focus in go-to-market is because when you are too generalist. You're basically just another in house talent person, right? The real key when you're trying to recruit a salesperson is you need to have that sort of expertise.

If you've got somebody that's, that's managing roles that are outside of sort of core disciplines and they're too general, you then into the in-house teams where they've, they've got 50 roles they need to recruit and you know, five of them at solutions consultants and six of them are sales and some of them are product.

And where's the expertise there? And this is where I think, and this is not aimed at the internal recruitment team, but this is where external generalist recruiters get a bit lazy because they, first of all, they know that they are generalist. They may not have to hire that role again.

So they don't keep the maps going that we do. So we constantly map the market. We know who the movers and shakers are. We hear about things before other people do. It goes for the sort of pulling out of tough markets as well. You know that, we tend to find that as we specialize and we're not generalist, we can speak to the market and give them some confidence.

Or we can get into the pity party with them as well and understand what they're going through it that that particular time and that that does make That does make a big a big difference, you know, if somebody's got a great network and a great understanding, external use by the internal talent teams will happen and we realized years ago that that you there's no point in competing with internal teams who tend to be by nature quite generalist?

We have to work with them and understand that you're not going to get all the hiring, you're going to get part of it. And the part that you want is the area where they can leave it to us. They know they can leave that to us because we've got the expertise. And, and that's, that's really where that where that comment, comment comes from.

Steve: Yeah, I couldn't agree with it more. As I've been on both sides of hiring and being a candidate, like having a partner really understands your space. Whether you'd be the candidate getting hired or being the company hiring is very important. You’ve given a lot of advice and tips as we've had this conversation, but I'm curious if you have any additional notes for CEOs and go-to-market leaders who often are the audience of this podcast and many times the guests about scaling and growing their teams, like a couple of bullets around that.

Kevin: Yeah, I would say the key thing I always think is, is be, be open. You know, I think back to my days at D&B. So I'm going to show my age a little bit here, but I've already given the date I started, but you know, when I was working at D&B, there wasn't any LinkedIn.

So that didn't exist. You couldn't source your own candidates. It was very difficult. So you always had to have an open mind when it came to talent coming to you. And what we tend to find is that the successful businesses are those that are open to receiving a resume of a candidate that's on the market, even when they haven't got a vacancy.

Because so many CEOs believe it or not, but just won't, just won't entertain that rock star that you found, you know, you highlight it to them and you get, and you get the block of we're not hiring at the moment, but what about in six months time? And do you really want that hire to go to go to one of your competitors?

Have you got an opportunity to bring somebody in particularly at the moment? You know, there have quite a number of layoffs as you, as you know, and I think, I think, it's true to say that that, the low hanging fruit is probably gone for organizations that think they can hire themselves.

We've now got people that have started in organizations down, they're building careers. Some people have changed, changed careers completely, but there are some perfectly great candidates, really good candidates through no fault of their own, find themselves on the open market, you know, be open to hearing about those candidates.

I would always say that's the key thing. Don't think about what your gaps are now. Think about what your gaps might be and where you might have some red flags. You know, you might have some, some people in, in the team that aren't quite cutting it and want to give them a bit of time, but particularly in those markets where we talked about already, the notice periods can be longer.

You need to start thinking about that much earlier. Because it might be too late and you missed budget. When you could have done something about the problem, you know, maybe a bit earlier.

Steve: Right. Right. Well, and on the other side of the table for candidates, do you have any advice for those that may not be looking now, or maybe they're looking to change and accelerate their career?

Like what, what would you suggest candidates and go-to-market professionals do?

Kevin: So you've got an interesting time for candidates. Lots of, particularly in the US, tendency to move much quicker much quicker than in other regions, shall we say. Advice to the candidates might be that don't move too early because, you know, on the client side, when they're looking at you having moved after 18 months, we know the sales cycles in this sector can be quite long, especially the big deals.

And especially if you're working with some of the big banks and the larger corporates where the decision-making process is much longer, if you leave after 12 months or 18 months, the perception in the market is that you haven't sold anything. So just be mindful of that. No, it may not be that it may be that you were sold something that you thought was something it isn't.

You're having to move and you can do that once. I wouldn't suggest doing it two, you know, two or two or three times. Generally for the digital identity and data and insight space, in these tough times, people will reach for more data, more analytics. They they want more information before they make decisions.

The regulated markets are not going anywhere. So there's great resilience within the whole digital identity and RegTech space. So I still think it's one of the, one of the top, top areas to be in. And I would, I would encourage anybody that's in the sector to stay in it. And considering the sector to give it, give it a go.

And then maybe get some training from you, maybe to get them up to speed on what it's all about.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. And one thing, again, as you were describing, the candidate experience, I think about my own, when I went from one company to another, in support working with Engage, I changed roles, so I stayed in the space, but, but I tried a different role and it was.

One of the best decisions I've made for myself to be able to have that experience. So I think that's one that I would add in there too, is to be, be open as a candidate to maybe not exactly what you've done before and that's how you grow.

Kevin: I think just to add to that, lots of organizations like people who've done a technical role now.

I'm back in the days at D&B, the best salespeople were the people that had actually done the business analyst type role and had actually written the report, written the content, assessed companies, created credit ratings for those businesses, and then they became salespeople.

Now we're finding a trend at the moment of organizations really liking the solutions consultant that can sell. And that's not how it was when I was at Cable and Wireless, for example, you know, a technical pre-sales person was just that, just a technical pre sales person.

But now, now there's that, that commercial now, so there is that ability to be able to be able to switch roles as well.

Steve: Most definitely. And from the buying side, the practitioners, those that use some of these technologies, they're pretty savvy themselves. They may know more of the solutions than the go-to-market professional that's coming into that organization because they have gone through all of the demo sessions and they've had multiple sales cycles with different companies, so it's like a great point of feedback.

Well, Kevin, we're almost out of time. If you've seen any of these episodes, you know I like to go a little bit beyond just the business side and the LinkedIn profile, can you share with the audience where you like to spend your time outside of work, any passions or hobbies or causes that are important to you?

Kevin: Yeah, I've got some, well, I've got three kids. So they're all girls, three beautiful girls and a wife that I've been married to for 26 years. She says she could have been let out for murder in that period of time, but I'm still standing. What else?

We've got three dogs. We've got three Hungarian Vizslas, so spend a lot of time walking the dogs. Where we live is just 25 miles outside of London and some nice countryside here. So we love going along walks and, and enjoying the countryside. I like to stay fit. I think you have to in business these days. You have you have to make sure, make sure that you fit. That's a nod to Matt Thompson.

Steve: What's your fitness activity of choice, beyond the walking with the dogs?

Kevin: Well, I go to the gym, so I go to the gym most, most mornings.

I tend these days because, because of my age, I tend to, I just try and keep the weight off. So I'm on the cross trainer most of the time, or I run, if I haven't got, if I haven't got an injury. And as I get older, you get more injuries for sure. Hobby-wise, it's difficult.

Difficult for me to not say my hobby is running my business because it is. I really enjoy running the business, but I do have a side passion for the Beatles. I've got more Beatles books than most people, most people have, have got anything else. I've got a real passion. So I've got, I've got three, three Beatles books for Christmas.   I'm working my way through. And a signed poster of John Lennon, which I was really, really happy with.

Steve: Yeah. Very cool. Very cool. Well, we're up at about time to wrap up. What kind of conversations would you or your team be looking to have from the market, Kevin?

Kevin: Yeah. I mean, I would just urge everybody to think about their plans now, you know, if they're looking to, looking to build out the teams, we'd love to. We'd love to hear from anybody that's looking to do exactly that. You know, we've got a great network.

We've got a very passionate, very passionate team. Our passion matches the passion of a lot of our clients at those early stages. You know, we do things with energy, but we do, we also do things properly. From a client side, have you got the right? People in your team to take the organization on the growth path you're looking for?

And on the candidate side, I would say that we're always interested in hearing from those top 10% candidates, right? So that doesn't mean to say we're not interested in anybody else, but, but we want to be seen by our clients as bringing the high-quality candidates to them. We know what good looks like.

So, if anybody's looking for a move or they're considering entering this market, you know, get in touch.

Steve: Right. And what's the best format to get in touch? Is it LinkedIn or through your website? Any specific contact?

Kevin: Yeah, you can connect me to connect with me through LinkedIn or you can, uh, email me directly kevin.cruickshank@engagepsg.com. Or go through the website, but we're quite boutique. So start with me and I'll find the right person for you to connect with and then we can take it from there.

Steve: Great. Well, I'll be sure to include the email address and other links in this podcast episode.

Kevin, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.

Kevin:

I really enjoyed it.

Steve:

I really appreciate your support of PEAK IDV and your sponsorship of Season 2 of the podcast. And I look forward to working with you more in 2024.

Kevin:

Thanks again. Excellent. Excellent. Best of luck.

Steve:

Thank you.

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