“How do you get on?” “Do you two fall out?”, “Who makes the final decisions?”, “Have you had any regrets about going into business together?”, “Bet it’s fireworks sometimes.”
Since setting up our business, these are some of the many comments and questions that Linda and I receive from those who know us.
We’ve been described as alpha females and for those that know a thing or two about psychometric profiling, we are High Ds.
We have similar personalities. We should probably clash – often. Our constant drive could certainly be a positive factor in generating results, but it could also be a recipe for disaster in being able to support each other, compromise and achieve common goals together.
Our recent history is intertwined as supplier and client, boss and employee, business partner and fellow entrepreneur and friend and confidante. I first encountered Linda Walmsley when I was recommended to her as a recruitment supplier over 15 years ago. At the time she was UK resourcing director for a leading engineering services group, and I was a director and shareholder of a recruitment consultancy. She had a reputation for being exacting and setting high expectations for her recruitment suppliers.
I quickly realised Linda was also fair, kind, ethical and respectful; traits that I hope we share. Traits that we live by and form the core principles of our business.
Within a few years I had exited my previous situation and joined Linda to support her in developing an in-house shared recruitment service centre of excellence for a global US-owned corporation. Our working dynamics changed again as she went from being my client to being my line manager.
In those early days we compared our psychometric profiles. They were mirror images – high in drive, high in sociability and lower in compliance and patience ie we are both goal focused, enjoy working at pace to deadlines, comfortable in making decisions and thrive in generating results by working closely with people. Whilst it boded well that we were both in the right profession, it did also raise red flags as we realised that we would probably clash on occasions.
When we took the decision to leave our corporate lives behind and go into partnership together by launching Walmsley Wilkinson, we trusted and liked each other, believing we could build something special together. Despite that trust and our positivity about the future, we still made sure we had a detailed shareholders’ agreement and insurance policies in place; just as any professional partnership should.
As those who have done it before know, building a new business is no easy task. We spent long days including weekends together, debating, agreeing and actioning things. This was initially spent at Linda’s kitchen table before we were able to move into our new office. If we thought we knew each other before, we certainly did after. Not only did we live and breathe our business we also shared our personal lives, navigating the day-to-day and sometimes tough challenges of all that life brings.
Over three years later, we can safely say that we have a successful business. A business we are proud of.
I think the reasons we do work well together are plentiful but at the heart of it we rate each other’s abilities, are self-aware and play to our strengths and weaknesses, we want the best for each other and our families, communicate constantly and share the same values. Ultimately, we respect each other.
Linda and I openly share – our views, our plans, what needs to be done, what needs to change given our rapidly changing world. No subjects are barred, and all conversations are welcomed by both individuals. The knowledge that we both know we can say anything to the other without causing offence is priceless and often hilarious.
Our relationship and our business may not always be perfect, but we work extremely hard to try and be the best team that we can.
So, sorry to disappoint. There is no sensational story here, no fireworks at all. Just us. Working hard together. Enjoying what we do. Doing what we love best, with respect and harmony. Always.
Director, Walmsley Wilkinson