Catherine Kennard: Managing Director, Lovework
Could you give us a brief background into your career before starting Lovework?
After graduating from University, I joined a FTSE 200 recruitment business on their graduate scheme. I worked there for a couple of enjoyable years, which provided a super commercial grounding to my career. After this time, I begun to feel frustrated in a big company environment. Still not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and not having even considered avenues in start-ups at this stage, I decided to pursue my academic interests by becoming a secondary school science teacher. I loved this role but still did not feel totally fulfilled… this time I was itching for something more commercial. It was then that I was approached by the CEO of a start-up social network, who wanted me to come on-board and head up the recruitment arm of that business, which monetized the network.
From there, I developed the bug for working in a small, high-growth, agile environment. I loved my new found autonomy and responsibility as well as the buzz of working in an environment where the priorities continuously change. I relished the challenge of driving my own work-flow each day as opposed to being closely managed and for being directly accountable for the outcome of that.
Catherine wears Le Marais Jacket in Grey
Tell us a bit about Lovework and what inspired you to start the business?
Lovework is an entrepreneurial recruitment business with one simple goal: to connect the most exceptional people to the most exceptional roles.
I set up Lovework after identifying a need both from a bright candidate’s perspective, to find a more fulfilling role with greater responsibility and accountability, and from a fledgling start-up’s perspective to have the very best team of people in place to help them become tomorrow’s success story.
We spend a lot of time proactively sourcing high-quality candidates. Most of the time these candidates are in employment and not actively looking to move roles. However, the opportunity to join a start-up business piques their interest. We select candidates on the basis of academic results, commercial experience, drive, passion, energy, as well as some core competencies we believe are essential to survive in a start-up, for example, adaptability, flexibility and proactivity. We then connect them to genuinely rewarding opportunities within the exciting entrepreneurial businesses we work with.
What has been the most exciting moment for you since starting your own business?
Gosh.. an awful lot has been exciting!
I love working with business that span a diverse range of sectors, form: organic baby food, to extreme sporting events! I feel like I learn so much about so many different businesses, all of them extremely exciting, innovative and cutting edge.
I have also helped three hot-off-the press start-ups, which have not even launched yet, to recruit their founding teams. This is a huge responsibility and is so exciting as I feel like I am assisting at a stage where it really counts. I also cannot wait to watch these businesses take off with my candidates at the helm!
How do you approach building your network amongst interesting companies that you want to work with?
We are very fortunate in that a lot of entrepreneurial businesses come to us when they have a need. In fact, all roles we are recruiting currently are as a result of clients approaching us, which is super. In the earlier stages, we did more direct business development, mainly by emailing leaders of exciting, high-growth businesses and introducing Lovework and our approach. We have also benefited from the fact that the entrepreneurial community in London is small and that word spreads quickly. A lot of clients have been referred to us by other clients, which is something we really pride ourselves on.
Catherine wears The Draycott Dress in Midnight Navy
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own business?
You need an enormous amount of passion for what you are doing. If you are passionate about your proposition, passionate about creating a brand, culture and vision, then that’s a good place to start. The business will not always go according to plan and, without that passion, obstacles will be tricky to over-come.
What are your key tips for someone interviewing for their new role?
Research the company you are interviewing with inside out.. it is not sufficient to have a brief scan of their website. If applicable, read recent press articles on both the company and founders, research the people who are interviewing you, sample the product, view product positioning in store etc. Use the research you have done to present the interviewer with some genuine and passionate examples of why you are so interested in joining their business.
Use clear and structured examples to support your assertions and to bring your experience alive for the interviewer.
Be positive. Businesses will want to know why you are keen to join them and not why you are desperate to leave your current role.
Do you have a mentor or role model that you talk to about your career? If so, what key advice have they given you?
I don’t have one key mentor but I take a lot of advice from diverse sources, particularly in relation to ad-hoc issues that arise. For example, I might speak to my website designer, my clients and, most of all, my husband. I think it is really important to keep an open mind and to gain alternative perspectives. I also find a good brainstorm an extremely useful source of innovation.
Catherine wears Le Marais Jacket in Grey
What would you advise women to wear to an interview?
I would strongly advise being mindful of the culture of the business you are interviewing with and dressing accordingly. I would also always air on the side of smartness.. whether that is jeans, jacket and heels for a more laid back business, or a suit/ dress for a more corporate environment.
Which item from The Fold would feature in your working wardrobe?
There are far too many items by The Fold that I would like to feature in my working wardrobe. However, I have my heart firmly set on the Draycott for my next purchase!