Meet Jon Dugdale - Director of Infrastructure Practice at Halian
06 July 2022
7 min read
Tell me more about yourself and your role within the company.
I joined Halian in June after relocating from Qatar. I was open to exploring new opportunities that gave me the possibility to lead a team that was in an environment focused on growth and development.
Luckily, I was approached by one of the Halian’s recruitment specialists, who contacted me to discuss a potential opportunity within the organisation. In fact, due to the company's rapid growth, there were several positions opened, but one really stood out.
I had extensive conversations with both Stuart Fry and Lloyd Cremer, the driving forces behind the Middle East business. They explained where they would like the company to be in the next few years in terms of growth and development, which really caught my attention. There aren’t many businesses that are as ambitious and dedicated to achieving their growth plans as Halian is, but most importantly, the Management team is keen on making the investments needed to achieve that.
My goal here is to build a high-performing unit of professional and motivated specialists that are well positioned to drive growth in their markets. Currently, my focus is on expanding the Infrastructure LOB and building a bigger team dedicated to that vertical. The plans are that we will triple in size in 3 years.
Also I have agreed with my peers in the Management team that I will support the Halian Academy with our next intake. Given that I am well experienced with all industry lines, I feel that I can be of real help in supporting them to become Recruiters armed with the knowledge needed to cover the entire spectrum of Halian’s services.
Can we speak a bit more about your background? What type of customers and work have you done in your previous roles?
Sure. I’ve been in recruitment for ten years now, during that time, I’ve worked in 3 recruitment companies. One of my previous employers was a large London-based company, which was the drive behind my move from Manchester to London, where I was living, so I could be closer to customers who were primarily based in or close to the capital. I joined the business, moved to London and then the company ironically decided that they would like to expand their operations to Manchester and would like me to move back there so I could open and develop the business in that area. This allowed me to gain more experience of what it is like to start a new business and make it successful when in a start-up mode.
It was an invaluable experience, but to be completely honest, now I’m more excited to be in the position where at Halian, I wouldn't have to do that as I’ve got an established team. I’m here to build and expand on the great foundations that have been laid. I’m here to help the team grow and develop in different areas – get more business in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Tell us more about the Infrastructure sector.
Infrastructure is somewhat new to me. Generally, I do technology recruitment – back-end developers, front-end developers, architects, and anything related to designing websites and e-commerce. To be honest, when I was offered to head the Infrastructure team, I was mindful about taking on the challenge it potentially posed. But when I discovered more about the customer base, Halian has built throughout the years and the large quantities of different opportunities, this all made sense to me. Once you get the chance to work with some of the biggest companies in the world, it’s high-volume, and the scope is really exciting.
What do you think about the level of talent within the Infrastructure vertical in the region?
I'm currently working on contract roles for a new client in Qatar for Infrastructure - 24 contractors project. There is no local talent in terms of what the customer is looking for and what companies are generally willing to pay.
I think you’ll find that if you’re looking for local talent for that kind of job, you’ll be looking at hiring ex-pats at this stage. Currently, the local talent pool within technology, particularly Infrastructure, isn’t huge. However, this will potentially change in the future with the new laws and efforts made in this direction. There is local talent scarcity, and most candidates are already on a good salary, and the company looking to hire them wouldn't be in the position to offer them much more.
How do you see things progressing in the next couple of years? There's much noise around the potential recession. What do you personally anticipate happening?
I feel the Middle East, in general, is going to weather that, and if we look back in time and also analyse the current oil and gas markets, we’ll see that they are well positioned to come out of a potential recession even stronger. The wealth of the Middle East will help, in my opinion.
On another topic - Saudi Arabia is spending billions on building 16 smart cities, from the NEOM and the Red Sea projects to the Trojan project. There will be thousands of people that they would look to bring into the country, and the salaries and opportunities are excellent. I think that is the next big market.
How have you seen the KSA change in the past few years?
I’m pretty curious to see how these new projects might potentially change some of the existing laws and potentially maybe create separate regions within the country, allowing the possibility to enable both traditional values and western expectations to thrive.
It’s incredible what they’re doing – simultaneously creating ambitious, futuristic projects, cities and tourist destinations. If you look at what they have created – I personally am very excited to visit the country. Not only from a business perspective but purely out of interest for the amazing things being made. What an incredible achievement to diversify the country's portfolio with non-oil and gas-related revenues. They also have a great example of what the UAE have done in that area.
Honestly, I’m excited about the things happening in the region. Some of what is being done are just incredible. And the way things are changing is so rapid; I’m really looking forward to seeing where this massive drive will take us in a few years.
You’ve been working at Halian for almost a month; what’s your impression about the team, the Management, and the organisation?
What I was surprised with was how everyone works together. There are no conflicts, the teams work together very well, and the atmosphere is really supportive.
I’ve been in recruitment for a while now, and sometimes, I’ve been in the position where I’ve witnessed the complete opposite. I’ve been in situations where people have been very self-centered and focused on guarding a customer or a specific role.
What I’ve found at Halian is that there's much knowledge sharing, and everyone is included and encouraged to take on active roles in company meetings. Also, I feel that people understand that sharing jobs and relationships only secures the client better. If we can provide a customer with full service in all recruitment areas, then they do not need to go to external recruiters for future projects.
I also love how full of energy and good spirits the general atmosphere is. A real effort is made to create stronger teams, and everybody is encouraged to socialize with the rest of the company’s employees.
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