We took ten minutes out of his busy working day to sit down with Operations Manager, Colin Hirst. Here’s what we learnt…
What attracted Appdrawn’s newest team member to the company? How did he go from Rugby Union player to recruitment professional? And what on earth is Rat Jumping? We took ten minutes out of his busy working day to sit down with Operations Manager, Colin Hirst, to discuss all this and more.
Colin has lived in Watford for 30 years, and a desire to work in the local area was a factor that influenced his most recent career move. He was also looking to continue his commitment to only working for business owners ‘who cared about their employees’. This led him to Appdrawn and his joining in June this year as our new Operations Manager, a position in which he is responsible for compliance, HR and recruitment.
Watford may be local for him now, but the area hasn’t always been home – and neither has the UK. Colin moved from Germany at the age of 13, with his family living briefly in Nottingham before settling in Hartlepool. Upon arrival, Colin joined his beloved rugby club Hartlepool Rovers RFC. “I owe a great deal for the love and support awarded to me from the players and club alike. They helped me settle into the UK during a difficult transition,” he says. Interestingly, Colin is not the first professional sportsperson to join Appdrawn: former pro footballer Mayowa Balogun joined the team in 2021 as a Designer and is now a Consultant.
Care and the community
The sense of a caring community is clearly important for Colin. Sport and friends helped with the transition from Germany to the UK, and his “great new colleagues” at Appdrawn have eased the transition from one role to another. Fortunately this has been a smooth one. Reflecting on his initial couple of months in the role, Colin says he felt “fully supported” whilst “getting my head around some of the challenges faced by both consultants and developers alike.”
A caring community and feeling supported seem to be important not only for Colin to experience himself, but also important things for him to foster and create among others. In our ten minutes we chatted about life in and outside the office. He listed some of his interests as “sport, family, dogs, construction and the great outdoors” and says he spends his spare time “helping rehabilitate difficult and unstable dogs.”
Specialists and the city
Colin may value kindness and community, but at the same time – and by his own admission – he is also “always looking for new challenges.” His first job, he explains, was as a trainee manager for what was then the “largest timber importer in the UK, Thompson Eyres & Denny Mott, only to leave 9 years later at the age of 25 for the Big Smoke to begin my new career in recruitment with Reed Insurance in the city.” Five years later, he began working in his home town Watford, managing back to back both the local Manpower and Adecco offices. Next followed business development and operational management stints at Watford Timber, and 40-year-old furniture importing specialist, John Parkins & Co Ltd, respectively.
Lured back to recruitment, Colin then worked as a Management Consultant, “developing new verticals for successful enterprises, namely Sarco Retail, by taking them into the commercial sector and headhunting a team from Randstad.” Impressively, he also launched “a virgin business called BMA Recruitment in Heathrow by headhunting staff, identifying markets and opening doors.”
A demand for business growth
Colin has a wealth and many years of experience (“as you can see by my grey hair and rugged features!”) in growing companies and hiring and retaining the best talent. Yet even with all this industry knowledge under his belt, he is still seeking to learn and be challenged. It was “the demands of the role,” he says, which attracted him to the position of Operations Manager, and “the ambitions of the owner and the business growth potential” that drew him to Appdrawn and our founder and CEO, Tim Kloss.
Colin also has his own ideas for business growth. In the coming months his aims include “doing all I can to develop both the team and the business” and to “get us ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO/IEC 27001 certified in 2023”. These standards, outlined by the International Organization for Standardization, are focussed on improving products and services to better serve customers and the environment; and implementing a holistic approach to cybersecurity.
Go Ape, Rat Jumping and a Tigger onesie
Taking on new challenges is something Colin is also keen to pursue outside of the work environment. He doesn’t shy away from admitting his “dislike” of heights, which came about “after thinking that hanging from a first floor window ledge so as not to be seen when playing hide-and-seek in Germany was a good idea, only to realise I couldn’t get back in…” This dislike persists to this day, as he recalls a recent family trip to Go Ape, an outdoor activity and tree-top rope course centre. His fear, he says, “really got me when I was trying to pluck up the courage to take the last swing to the cargo net: I froze, then began to cry, then simply stood there in a Tigger onesie for ten minutes, before finally taking the leap!” Again, in a sign of his enduring quest to face new challenges and tackle demands, Colin says that despite these experiences, “I can still be found Rat Jumping (face down abseiling) off buildings for charity.”
Appdrawn has led a number of charitable initiatives in the past, so with his skills in people management, organisation and embracing challenges, perhaps the coming months will see Colin spearhead both business growth and charitable gravity-defying stunts!? Watch this space, folks...