Getting To Know You, Co-founders, Toby Dixon & Lee Nania, Marlin Green

Lee and Toby

European recruitment specialist Marlin Green co-founders Toby Dixon and Lee Nania discuss what defines the way Marlin Green does business

What do you currently do?

Based in London and Dusseldorf, Marlin Green is an award-winning recruitment agency that has quickly established itself as an industry leader in providing highly skilled IT talent to a broad portfolio of clients in currently 17 countries across Europe.

A key differentiator that has fuelled our growth is operating exclusively in exporting technology experts in three core markets: SAP, Business Intelligence and Big Data. Our engines are exclusively tuned to the unique pace and demands of Europe’s contract/project related recruitment needs and does not engage in any permanent recruitment.

We pride ourselves on our ability to mobilise in-demand, highly skilled talent to in-need clients quickly, efficiently, at short notice, anywhere in Europe. These clients choose to partner with us because of our commitment to quality and our reputation for speed.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

When we were designing the business, we found our values were closely aligned to brands like Aston Martin, Mont Blanc and Sunseeker. They are companies who focus on quality and recognised for best-in-breed products and service.

In many ways, our proposition has a lot in common with them. We focus on supplying the best talent the market can offer to a clearly defined niche that demands the highest quality in both candidate and service.

Ironically, McDonalds is also an inspiration. Our own approach is inspired by the company’s franchise model, in its disciplined adherence to process and the creation of a repeatable and scalable business that’s helped the fast food chain become a market leader and $multi-billion brand.

What defines your way of doing business?

Everything we do is driven by a proprietary set of systems and processes that ensures our people are highly effective in the delivery of their individual roles.

These systems and processes are hardwired into our business and are intimately linked to our core values of pride, accountability, collaboration and expertise. Together they combine to inject the speed needed to lead our market.

The result is the development of sector specialists who have the specific skills needed to successfully meet our clients’ needs at pace and a repeatable operational model that can be quickly adopted in any region and produce similar rapid results.

The approach has paid dividends. This year our International success has been recognised with several accolades including the Queen’s Award for International Trade and rankings in the Sunday Times Export Track 100 and Financial Times FT1000 (Europe’s fastest growing companies).

Following the successful launch of our Dusseldorf office last year, we are now ready to roll out our model with additional offices throughout Europe and beyond.

Who do you admire?

‘Anyone’ who gets on with it, no matter what life throws at them. People that don’t look around for someone else to blame, who deal with adversity and come out on top.

Our fathers were like that. Their values, work ethic and determination were an inspiration to both of us. They both had their own businesses, one an estate agent, the other in construction and worked exceptionally hard to make a success of them. They had to take on recessions and difficult markets, but failure was never an option. When things got tough, they got their heads down and pushed harder.

It’s a similar work ethic that drives our business. In 2010, we both gave up successful careers and significant salaries to start up during one of the worst recessions the world has ever known. But we were undaunted. We knew that with the right ethic and approach, we could become a formidable player in our industry, and we have done just that.

What would we tell our younger selves?

Don’t rush in. Measure twice, cut once. Speed is not necessarily the product of doing things quickly but of having done the necessary work upfront that enables you to build speed into your DNA.

Always get a second opinion. More data is better. However, once you’ve got another view, go with your gut. Do not cede control of your business to someone else’s opinion. Having assessed all relevant points of view, if you feel your way is the best way, then follow it.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

When you have a good idea, pursue it 100% and get it landed on the tarmac as fast as you can. Energy and enthusiasm wane quickly. Ideas, no matter how good, lose their shine or are easily forgotten.

Once you have an idea you love, plan it properly, create a roadmap of clear processes and empower people to own the approach and the result. Then stick to your plan.

Don’t waste your energy on things you are not going to do.

Too many entrepreneurs come unstuck because they are lured away from their core business by the latest shiny idea or innovation. Typically, they haven’t even scratched the surface of the potential value in their original idea before they have moved onto the next thing.

Each new thing you try commandeers critical resource, time and money from something else. The more you are focused in one area, the greater the impact you can have.