Doug co-founded Intelligent People in 2002 with Chris Mason, compelled to offer clients a better service by combining the thoroughness of a retained search with the speed and agility of a contingency service. Also important to the company was to offer people a successful career in recruitment which encouraged a positive work / life balance.

After a couple of years in hospitality and sales, Doug progressed into recruitment, specialising within sales and Executive Search. His current role at Intelligent People is focused on delivering search campaigns, coaching, and mentoring a team and thinking about the longer-term strategy. He is particularly proud that the business is the market leader in marketing, product and eCommerce -genuinely exciting areas which allows him to learn about innovative technologies every day.

Outside of work, Doug is a golf, cycling and running enthusiast, who represented the UK at the European Age Group Duathlon Championships. He also set up the parkrun in St Albans and enjoys nothing more than relaxing after a tough run with a well-earned pint with his dog.

Let’s get to know Doug

What challenges have you faced setting up your own business, and how have you overcome them? What learnings can you share?

‘The biggest challenge is trying to constantly innovate and remain fresh in an ever-changing landscape. For example, each client operates with a different recruitment model, or they invest in growing internal recruitment teams or new technologies that automates the recruitment process to varying degrees of success. So, our challenge has been to identity these issues and ensure we are still adding value. For us, we found that our expertise in niche areas of product, marketing and eCommerce and our ability to build real relationships with clients based on trust, has kept us in good stead.

In terms of learnings, sometimes it is a good thing to step back and look at what you have achieved and not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. We constantly review our business strategy, including what our business offering should be, and try to make best practise decisions about how to structure the business for both growth and delivery.’

You’ve been working within recruitment for 30 years, what advice do you have for someone looking to start or further their career within recruitment?

‘The simple answer is…Do it! What do you have to lose?

I’ve always enjoyed working in search. The ability to land someone that dream role, the appreciation that comes along with it, and the knowledge that I am making a positive impact in people’s lives. Of course, part of my role as co-founder is to coach and mentor a team and think about the wider business strategy, which is really rewarding, and something newcomers to recruitment could work towards.’

What is a current problem in the recruitment industry that you want to fix?

‘I have always been frustrated that candidates often do not receive feedback at each stage of the interview process – especially those candidates who have not been successful. This is commonplace within the recruitment industry because of the time it takes to contact individuals, especially when you have 100’s of candidates within processes at any one time. I strive to always give my candidates feedback, good and bad, because it helps them.’

What are the values that drive you?

‘The three values that drive me are honesty, integrity, and a commitment to try my hardest at whatever I am doing. I genuinely believe in these values both personally and professionally, and the culture at Intelligent People reflects that.’

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

‘I read a lot and try to exercise most days, whether that’s running, cycling or going out for a walk. Other than that, I love to cook when I have the time and inspiration and really, really enjoy chopping wood!’

If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?

‘Honest, dependable, and trustworthy.’

Doug Smiling