As the CEO of an executive search firm, and an ‘old-timer’ in the industry I’ve seen and heard most tips and advice over the years, on how to secure that dream job. Much of that advice centres around how you can tailor your pitch and truly ‘connect’ with your interviewer. Do your research, find out their hobbies, likes and interests and use that information in your interview. At face value that makes some sense, human nature is that we are flattered when someone pays an interest in us, it’s also true that we love hearing (and talking) about ourselves. 

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But as this research referenced in the Harvard Business Review shows, and which is also validated by my 25 years in the industry, a false or faked interest has many issues. Not least of which when you are trying to fake interest, and remember ‘stuff’ to impress, you are not able to perform well. You are off kilter, and even if you have researched well, it still sounds fake and comes over as obsequious. Unless of course you have in front of you a vain and shallow potential boss who lacks self-esteem and strength, but is that the boss you want? (Full article from HBR )

Be yourself, be curious. As the great Dale Carnegie said, ‘To be interesting, be interested.’  If you really want to stand out from the crowd, ask great questions and listen. Really listen, with curiosity, and genuine interest.

Of course the other issue is, do you want to work somewhere, or for someone, where you can’t be yourself, and you’re not recognised for yourself and what you and only you can bring to the job or company?  I appreciate that I, like most if not all of you reading this, are fortunate enough to not have to take any job just to put food on the table. Something we should be grateful for. But also something we should not forget, or fail to take advantage of. Your career is important. You are important. Life is too short to not be inspired by, let alone to like your job. You spend more time at or thinking about work than any other part of your life.

You have a responsibility to yourself and your family and loved ones to align your work and your values, for them to be congruent.

And that means being authentic, being truly yourself, and working hard to find an employer, or an opportunity to be you. To find a place where you, your values, skills, experience, personality and energy are valued and sort. Don’t sell yourself short.

At Hyperion Executive Search we work hard to find clients that inspire us, and that value us, and the people they hire. Sometimes that means walking away from ‘business’, but that’s OK. It’s better than OK, it’s great. It means as a team and as individuals we can all be inspired, and do our best work, because our values, interests and goals are aligned with our clients. We help our clients to find the exceptional talent they need to grow, and quite often who they hire, isn’t who or what they first thought they wanted. Because we can see through the ‘song and dance’ routines, just as those in the research examples could. We find the authentic person inside. Do yourself a favour, just be the best version of you.


Most good things in life are driven by passion. Passion and purpose. These twin Ps are what caused me to create my company Hyperion Executive Search. Hyperion have become a global leader in executive search in the cleantech sector. And it gives the whole team a huge buzz that we are helping some of the most innovative and promising cleantech companies the help they need to scale. Vicariously we make our impact on climate change and air-pollution, as well as helping entrepreneurs succeed, and awesome candidates find their perfect ‘home’. But the P’s kept pushing. What more could I do to both learn more about what makes cleantech companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs succeed, and how could I share that learning to benefit others, and to inspire them to go on a journey of their own?

Because of my day job, I speak with leading figures in the cleantech industry day in and day out. I have to find out everything that makes my clients tick, what makes them a great place to work, what makes them succeed. I also have to keep on top of industry and technology developments, and because of this I have a network of industry insiders with whom I regularly speak and share our mutual insights and learning. So a podcast seemed a logical way to sate those twin P’s. I could feed my passion and expand my purpose.

I thought at first I could do it as a hobby, the occasional episode, a ‘fireside chat’ with some clients, friends and colleagues. If you hear the very first episode with eMobility legend and friend Roger Atkins you’ll get the picture. The problem was I really enjoyed it, and I got plenty of positive feedback. In hindsight I think at first they we’re just being nice! All the same, those twin P’s kept pushing, surely one episode a week wouldn’t be difficult, after all, I know so many people in the sector!?

The truth is I loved every conversation on every episode, just as I love every conversation I have with every client and contact, whether one to one, on the phone, or at trade shows and conferences. I think it is also true that at first I loved having the conversations, and thought a little less about the audience, and my ‘purpose’ to share and to inspire others to succeed in the cleantech sector. But the more downloads, follows and feedback I got the more I realised it wasn’t just me enjoying the conversations. The one piece of negative feedback I got though was over the audio quality at times. So I’ve invested in new microphones, software, production and editing etc. Now, I still don’t expect it to be radio quality, it’s not my day job, or what pays the bills, but I do hope you’ll notice the improvement, and that the better audio makes it easier to listen to and learn from the amazing people I’m fortunate to interview.

I’m now 7 months, and 25 episodes into my podcasting ‘career’. Almost one a week, missing some over Christmas, and a few whilst travelling. But travelling I’ve also been able to record face to face with some awesome client CEO’s, in the US, Germany and Netherlands in particular.

I know that I have had some truly inspirational CEOs share their stories, from bootstrapping to major investment or acquisition. Christoph Ostermann, CEO of Sonnen and Kristof Vereenooghe, CEO of EVBox stand out. Both had local companies when I met them, 30-40 employees, and now are both global entities acquired by Shell and ENGIE respectively. How did that work? Take a listen and hear! There have also been some brilliant CEOs at the start of their journey, like Dr Fabian Lemke of Noventura. We’ve also had some great industry insiders like energy storage expert at BNEF Logan Goldie-Scott and Forbes under 30 alumni Marek Kubik. We’ve also had some awesome investor tips from Petr Mikovec of Inven Capital, and Jan Michael Hess of Ecosummit. I’m going to force myself to stop now as I genuinely feel all 25 guests have been great. I would though love to know which you’ve enjoyed best and why.

I guess the pressure is now on, to continue to improve the production quality and keep the highest standards of guests. I really hope that the podcast does inspire some of the listeners and give them valuable insights to learn and put to good use. If just one person is inspired to make a difference and to start or accelerate their cleantech journey, it’s worthwhile. From some of the feedback I get I’m confident that many more are finding my guests stories and insights useful and inspiring. Please do let me know your feedback, in comments or directly. Please do share with friends and colleagues if you enjoy it. Maybe go crazy and write a review on iTunes or your platform of choice!! If you have any ideas for guests let me know. Yes, Elon Musk is on my list!!

Thank you for all of your support so far.





With LinkedIn currently running its #ParentsAtWork campaign to highlight the challenges many parents at work, I thought this the perfect opportunity to share why I think providing flexible working, and being flexible, are a huge benefit to both employer and employee.

I speak as a father, as an employer and owner of a business, and as someone that has worked for over 20 years in talent acquisition. Yes, for a living I help companies to recruit and retain key talent, and I do so in very niche markets with small talent pools.

The working world, fortunately, is very different now than it was when I had my first two children, now 19 and 15 years old. At that time, as an ambitious and career focused young man I was forced to make sacrifices that I wouldn’t now make. I had a long commute, rigid and long office hours, and much time working away. It was tough. I justified the sacrifices by the money I earned and the house and comforts I was able to provide my family. I’m now the father of a 5-year-old, and this time, despite having greater responsibility, and starting my company as my daughter was born, I’ve not had to make anywhere near as many sacrifices. You may say, ‘that’s fine if you run your own business, you can do what you want’. Anyone that is the founder of a start-up will tell you the demands are as great, if not greater than any ‘job’ or career role. I’d say the difference is in technology, mentality and enlightenment, also (let’s be honest, we all operate as people and as businesses) in enlightened self-interest.

In my own business I’m not the only father with young children. Two of our Liverpool based team have children under 3 years of age. Both men. They are important to the team and to the success of the business. So, for both moral reasons, and for the good of the business, they are allowed to be flexible with their working hours. Not only can they never miss a school assembly, sports day or parents evening, they can also flex their hours to support their partners and childcare providers. Of course, children are often unwell. Giving them the flexibility to alter their hours, take time off, and work from home means they can be there for their children and partners when needed. It’s not just some hippy idealism though, it means they are happier, less stressed and more productive as employees (not less as old school thinking might have you think). So as a business owner I win. I have more loyal, productive, committed and happy employees. I benefit, our customers benefit, they benefit, their family benefit.  By providing laptops rather than desktop PC’s there is no reason for this flexibility not to work. It does work.

Trust is important in the employer/employee relationship, as it is in any relationship. If you don’t trust your employees to do what is needed to be done, and to not take advantage of this flexibility, you either have the wrong attitude, or the wrong employee. Whichever it is you need to deal with it for the benefit of your business or team.

Staff attraction and staff retention

As I specialise in talent acquisition, I see and hear daily what attracts an employee to a company, but also what leads to them to leave a company. There are of course many factors, but flexibility is very important, regardless of parenting requirements. Great people want to be trusted and given the tools to get the job done, they don’t want to be tied to a desk 8 or more hours a day, they don’t want to spend 2 hours commuting every day, and they don’t want to sacrifice their family life for their job. They DO want to make a big impact for their employer, they DO want to demonstrate their skills and abilities, and they DO want to be successful.

Companies that recognise that this is not binary, that being ever present and working long hours doesn’t by itself make someone a good employee, and needing flexibility and time out doesn’t make someone a bad or unproductive employee. I would argue that very often the exact opposite is true.

The huge untapped talent pool of mothers returning to work

Let’s be honest, the vast majority of early months and years parenting is carried out by mothers. It’s women that more often than not put their jobs and careers on hold for the benefit of their child and their partner, if they have one.  Not only is it grossly unfair then that as a society and as businesses we make it difficult for mothers to return to work at the level of their competence, it’s also a huge wasted opportunity. If someone is a bright, talented, career minded person prior to having a child, what makes us think they won’t be those things after having a child? Childcare arrangements can be difficult, and expensive, but it seems that childcare is an easier problem to solve than our perception, as a society, that a mother returning to work is only an option for less interesting, less challenging, or even menial tasks. What a waste of talent, and what a pathetic, unjustified and undeserved way of rewarding the mothers of our children for the efforts and commitments they have made to care for our children.

We live in a time of unprecedented connectivity. Technology gives us the ability to connect, communicate, work and perform without the constraints of location and fixed office hours.

Companies would benefit enormously by being flexible in how they treat their employees, not just parents, through better recruitment, retention and productivity. They also open up a new talent pool, by finding ways to utilise, support and welcome returning mothers (and fathers), or those that need childcare flexibility, or have other caring responsibilities, to their company.

I’d love to hear your views on this topic. Have you implemented flexible working practices at your business? Do you consider this as a staff retention or talent attraction tool?