Investors in People

first_imgInvestors in PeopleOn 20 Jun 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. He would do to it what venture capitalists do: they snap up struggling firms for a snip, plump them up, streamline, rationalise, asset strip and, oh yes, sack, before selling on for a very tidy profit a few months later. There was no shortage of voices accusing venture capitalists of being unaccountable, invisible Svengalis, a jaundiced symptom of get-rich-quick spivvery – the very nemesis of good HR practice.Venture capitalists – like their fellow deal-makers in mergers and acquisitions – are simply not seen as being very interested in people. “The financial, legal, and accountancy mafia concentrate on doing the deal – that is par for the course,” says Simon Barrow, chairman of management and recruitment consultancy People in Business. “They do have to check how good the people are they are backing, therefore they ought to be interested in first-class HR planning and the ability to work in a team and so on. “But the truth is that time pressure gets in the way of HR best practice, so I am not really sure how much they do. I don’t think they are terribly interested. You get paid for doing deals, the same as insurance.”Oddly enough, the Rover crisis came at a time when the venture capital industry is going to great lengths to emphasise its positive influence on employment. After all, venture capital is responsible for Madame Tussaud’s, IPC magazines, Tetley Tea, Sock Shop, Dunlop Slazenger, National Express, William Hill, Odeon Cinemas, United Biscuits, Goldsmiths, Umbro and Hozelock. Even the future has been mortgaged to VC: Dolly the Sheep creators PPL Therapeutics is owned by Apax Partners.Some rather tendentious statistics produced by trade body the British Venture Capital Association make the point 50 per cent of venture capital finance is for expansion – £1bn was invested in high technology companies last year. Between 1994 and 1998, venture-backed companies increased their staff levels three times faster than that of FTSE 100 companies. The average number of people employed in VC-backed companies rose by 24 per cent against a national growth rate of 1.3 per cent; sales rose by 40 per cent, profits by 24 per cent, exports by 44 per cent and investment by 34 per cent. Altogether, Britain’s venture capital fraternity (the UK accounts for 49 per cent of the total European investment) invested some £7.8bn in 1,300 companies.“Asset-stripping is really a phrase from the 1970s”, says David Thorp, chairman of the BVCA and managing director of Friends, Ivory and Syme Private Equity. “The ambitious fast-growth firms we have interests in do not really have assets to strip, apart from people, and that would be up to the company’s management, not to us.”While venture capital situations vary widely (the VC firm may have a minority stake on a management buy-out or majority control) venture capitalists are rarely involved in turnaround expeditions, he says. “Rescues happen in the middle of a recession. About one in a hundred are about turnaround at the moment.”So how detailed an interest do they take in people matters? According to Patrick Dunne, director at the largest venture capital house 3i, the composition of the board is the top priority. “The key thing for us is to get the right board in place. We spend a lot of time getting the right CEO. We do need to be convinced of the ability of the top team to be strong on the people issues. If they are not good at leading and motivating a team, that is crucial to the success of the venture.”Dunne says it is rare for HR directors to be on the main board of the companies the venture capitalists are looking at – just below board level is common. But he maintains, “The relationship between the CEO and the HR director tends to be vital. When you look at how a business is doing, if a company is not managing its team well it is not long before you see problems in the marketplace.”In assessing the pedigree of a board, Dunne says on-site visits are useful. “What you hear and see is more important than what you read.” Equally, he says VCs spend a lot of time getting different perspectives of a management team – in the case of 3i drawing on the expertise of some 600 independent directors, made up of former chief executives, chairmen and finance directors.Alasdair Warren, managing director of nCoTec, a specialist communications enabling technology venture capital firm, formed by a team of former investment bankers from Saloman Smith Barney, goes even further. He says in new economy start-ups “you are basically investing in people”.He adds, “There is a big difference in the old economy where you are realising the value of assets by efficiencies and so on. In start-ups, there is so much rapidly changing technology that you are investing in the people not the technology. It is the firms with the best people that win.”Warren agrees that it is the senior positions that venture capitalists worry about, the CEO and CFO. “Typically, ideas are generated by people with a technological background whereas it is the commercialisation of the technology that is the crucial judgement.” Because of the speed of movement, nCoTec has a strategic alliance with executive search firm, Skillcapital, which has a database of potential candidates already identified for new roles. But on the staffing side of investing in start-ups, Warren says there are definite negative consequences attached to having a firm with more than 20 people. “If it [the venture] becomes dependent on people, you have to question their ability to recruit. People can push the business plan back six months and it becomes a concern.”Aside from recruitment, at these senior levels, remuneration and incentives are the main HR area that venture capital companies have to deal with.The bulk of the financial side is straight equity or options (thanks to changes in the last two budgets), but people who move into VC-backed jobs also typically insist on a base salary premium of 25 per cent in order to take on the risk of moving. “If we put a lot of effort into finding people, we do not want them to go,” says Dunne. “The offer of options is an excellent way of aligning people to encourage growth in the value of the business. It is often logistically very difficult to put all-employee share ownership schemes in place, and that is where HR input can be crucial.”But yet, just as the venture capitalists claim to be oiling the wheels of the future economy, one of the interesting facts of the Rover crisis was that venture capital is investing in the old economy with new relish. Because of the fashionable obsession with high technology stocks, the current place to look for good deals is by trawling the chemical, engineering and retail sectors.As Guy Hands, finance principal at Nomura, is on record as saying, “Without private equity and people like Jon Moulton focusing on old economy businesses, we are going to become a country full of unemployed people sitting at home playing computer games on the Internet.”last_img read more

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Poppy appeal: Estate agent remembers fallen heroes on Remembrance Day

first_imgHome » News » Agencies & People » Poppy appeal: Estate agent remembers fallen heroes on Remembrance Day previous nextAgencies & PeoplePoppy appeal: Estate agent remembers fallen heroes on Remembrance DayKerrie Binder of Baker Estates in Hainault, Essex says she wanted to do something after learning that poppy sellers are unable to get out due to Covid.Nigel Lewis30th October 20200611 Views An estate agency in Hainault, Essex has caused a stir locally after dedicating its branch window to Remembrance Day which has been observed in the UK and the Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.The branch window of Baker Estates has been adorned with images of the iconic poppies that have come to symbolise Remembrance Day, and two Union Jack flags.Business owner Kerrie Binder (pictured, below) says she has had lots of people coming into her shop to show their appreciation of her remembrance efforts, particularly older local residents.We will remember them“I wanted to do my bit and decided rather than do a Halloween display, I’d keep the memory of those who gave their lives in combat, particularly as the poppy sellers have been unable to go out this year and collect money for the Poppy Appeal,” she says.“It was really easy to do – my daughter and I went online and found the window transfers which we bought and ordered for around £70.”This year the November 11th Remembrance Day commemorations will be on a Wednesday.Kerrie is also doing more than just a window display. After local Remembrance Day celebrations were cancelled in Hainault, an unofficial event is being organised for the 11th at which her trumpet-playing daughter is to play The Last Post.Putting poppies in a window display is just one of the four ways The British Legion says anyone can help fund raise during the pandemic including raising awareness of the appeal, sending friends and family poppies in the post, getting involved in a ‘Poppy Run’ or buying items from the Legion’s online shop.Baker estates Kerrie Binder Poppy Appeal The British Legion October 30, 2020Nigel LewisAny comments? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021last_img read more

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The Devil reads Vogue

first_imgDeputy Fashion editor of The Guardian (and former editor of Cherwell) Hadley Freeman warns that fashion journalism isn’t all about doing lunch, meeting celebrities and bitching. Hadley Freeman is by no means the kind of journalist we usually associate with the hair-flicking, airbrushed world of Vogue, Tatler, or even the fashion section of the Guardian.  As she walked over to the reception area of 119 Farringdon Road (the Guardian HQ) she immediately struck me as quite a normal person. No ridiculously puffed-up hair, no huge bag stuffed with the entire cosmetics section of Selfridges – not even, it seemed, wearing any make up.  Fashion journalism brings with it images of a champagne sipping, celebrity mingling, Chihuahua-cuddling world. If we take Hadley for our model, so to speak, then this could not be further from the truth.Hadley’s journey to her current position as Deputy Fashion Editor of the Guardian, and a contributing editor of Vogue, started surprisingly close to home. Hadley was an English undergraduate at St. Anne’s, which she descrbies as “that ugly, concrete one”; she also honed her journalistic prowess here at Cherwell, where she was Editor in Michaelmas 1998. “I knew I wanted to do some form of journalism at University, so I went along to Freshers’ Fair and picked up a card for both the student papers. When it came to going along to meetings, I found that Cherwell had been clever enough to put a map on the back of the card. So I ended up there, and started writing film reviews.” Hadley is quick to explain that the world of fashion journalism differs greatly from the stereotypes generated by films such as The Devil Wears Prada. “Most fashion journalists are not calorie counting, champagne guzzling, peroxide-blonde darlings; the fashion world, and in particular fashion journalism, is a highly demanding, highly competitive industry.” Fashion journalism seems to suit Hadley Freeman, both personally and as a journalist: she comes across as someone who, thankfully, does not take herself too seriously. This is apparent from her writing, which is often very tongue in cheek without appearing to be aloof; a balance which is hard to strike when dealing with some of the characters she has to handle on a day to day basis. Her columns and articles on Guardian Unlimited are a testimony to this: topics range from Kanye West and his Derrida-esque linguistic strategies to Paris Hilton’s chihuahua’s latest brush with the law.  In essence, then, Hadley is quick to recognise the fundamental paradox of her trade: “As a fashion journalist you must be aware of the silliness of your subject, but not apologise for it. Fashion has a stigma; nevertheless there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.”The fashion world has a marked relationship with celebrity and Hadley’s blog is filled with insightful, witty comments about celebrities and their ‘love’ for fashion. Our discussion led to the recent activity of Sean ‘P.Diddy’ Combes – ‘rapper’, ‘producer’ and all-round party animal. “I’m convinced that P.Diddy was sent to this planet to make me laugh…he’s like a pseudo-ghetto court jester”, Hadley notes.  Indeed, she has a number of excellent Diddy-related anecdotes, the best of which relates her experience at one of his own fashion shows. The star held it to market his clothing line Sean John, but it seemed little more than a front for nudity. He had a number of women walk out wearing nothing but suede bikini tops and g-strings – resembling what Hadley refers to as “Flintstones go porn.”Any conversation concerning the fashion world these days undoubtedly touches on that media favourite, the body image presented by the industry and its effect on teenage girls.  Hadley’s stance on the subject is interesting; particularly her response to claims that modern fashion overly sexualises women. “The idea that feminism is incompatible with fashion is absurd. Feminism is not about having hairy armpits and wearing frumpy dresses. We have this idea that women’s fashion is designed purely for male gratification. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Moreover women lead the fashion industry wherever you look – it is a supportive industry, where it is quite normal for a woman to be incredibly high powered.”The end of our discussion led us to the future of fashion journalism: where is fashion headed? What does the rise of the internet mean for the press?  First of all, Hadley quite rightly points out that print is very much still the way forward: “You can’t read a Blackberry on the beach – it just wouldn’t be practical; similarly, the fashion press isn’t going anywhere: we are like cockroaches”. Moreover, Hadley predicts a push within the industry towards more sustainable fashion and a move away from the throwaway culture of late.Either way, it is clear that Hadley Freeman is one to watch in the future of fashion media. Whatever the next few years hold, she promises one thing: she will never forget those hours spent cultivating headlines for front pages, rewriting shoddily written features and formulating letters addressed to herself at ‘that little pink building next to Christ Church’.last_img read more

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PBSO: Crowd Burglarized West Palm Medical Marijuana Business, Others

first_imgPalm Beach County sheriff’s deputies say they are looking for about 30 people who allegedly burglarized a medical marijuana business in West Palm Beach on June 1.According to authorities, the group broke into Miracle Leaf on Sansbury’s Way.Surveillance video shows dozens of people breaking the windows of the property with a sledge hammer, and then rushing into the store at about 3 a.m.We are living in weird times full of injustices. We hear you and respect peaceful protests, but this will NOT be taken lightly. We’re seeking to identity this group who burglarized this local business and others in your county. #PalmBeachCounty. pic.twitter.com/jMF1AlIsTr— PBSO (@PBCountySheriff) June 9, 2020 Officials believe the same group has committed other burglaries in the area.Anyone with information is asked to contact Palm Beach County CrimeStoppers at (800) 458-TIPS.last_img read more

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