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GLOBAL EXPANSION PLANS FOR HR MAN

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By Richard Szabo 20 Feb, 2012

THE founder of a Milton-based international recruitment agency plans to open offices in nearly a dozen countries and employ thousands of employees in less than a decade.

Employment Office managing director Tudor Marsden-Huggins (pictured) will call on his Zimbabwean fighting spirit to expand his global recruitment consulting domain from five to 10 countries and boost staff numbers from 60 to 2500 by 2020.

The 34-year-old’s ambitious growth strategy involves expanding the business through consolidation.

“We will acquire businesses that operate in employment-related software services, marketing and training anywhere in Australia,” he says.

“When we open up more offices overseas we may buy small-to-medium enterprises with up to 100 staff in Australia or abroad. However, I will not rule out buying a larger business in the future.”

The company’s 2011 financial year revenue was $9.85 million, with 20 per cent growth forecast before the end of FY2012.

Marsden-Huggins considers people management to be his greatest barrier to achieving his long-term objectives.

“We already have the cash to do it but only need the right leaders now. There is a need to develop good leaders internally. It excites me when I take the last 10 to 12 years of my experience to help people develop professionally,” he says.

“We have to double in size every nine to 12 months by appointing sales and account executives, recruitment consultants, human resources staff and marketers. We want people who are bright, energetic and have great communication and corporate presentation skills.”

He began his entrepreneurial journey after fleeing to Australia with his family in the mid-1980s during Zimbabwe’s black majority-rule unrest.

“In those days you were allowed to take US$500 ($467) per adult when leaving the country, while all other cash and assets were frozen. That was not very much to start a new life in Australia,” says Marsden-Huggins.

“Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s socialist and communist dictatorship has little to no (upright) political values. It was not easy living without constant access to petrol, milk and tap water.”

However, it was these conditions that provided the young entrepreneur with enough ingenuity to set up his MBE Business Service Centres printing shops in Milton and Toowong while studying a bachelor of arts at the University of Queensland.

“We had 22 staff and recruitment was difficult since we either advertised and got no one or received 200 resumes. We went to a recruitment agent but found they were really ripping us off, so I started learning about recruitment marketing and sold my 50 per cent share of the printing business for $120,000 during 1999.”

Marsden-Huggins enjoyed his first taste of consolidation in 2007 when travel agents Flight Centre purchased a 50 per cent stake in Employment Office for $1.6 million.

“When they approached us they were not a client, but I believe they acquired us because we went above and beyond brainstorming or improving on existing ideas by learning from company business models,” he says.

“Our partnership with Flight Centre gives us access to equity operations in New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. Asia is interesting because some parts have reasonably similar expatriate and recruitment problems.”

He is a strong believer in fostering equal business partnerships and religiously adheres to a business model built on corporate governance.

“We believe in profit, growth, innovation, incentives and ownership. Transparency at all levels is important to give everyone a sense of accountability and duty,” says Marsden-Huggins.

Working up to 50 hours per week, Marsden-Huggins still finds time for a lunch-time run to set a healthy example for his staff. He also supports the company’s ‘Sore Bums’ cycling fundraiser, which has collected more than $20,000 for Diabetes Australia.


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