Described by Claude Littner as an ‘Australian Ricky’ - but did he live up to the reputation? 

 

It’s been another entertaining series of The Apprentice this year and no doubt we were all on the edge of our seats watching Bianca Miller and Mark Wright battle it out in the final task. I am sure most of us would agree that both candidates deserved to be in the final.

After a grueling 12 weeks, Mark Wright was finally crowned as the 10th Apprentice winner. And it came as no surprise; Mark showed himself to be a worthy candidate throughout the process should be congratulated on his outstanding performance. 

I am really looking forward to seeing another Apprentice winner embarking on a career in ‘selling a service’ as opposed to a commercial product. Mark’s business idea involves digital marketing and search engine optimisation to help push small and medium sized businesses up online searches. I can appreciate Mark’s business aspirations in terms of providing a service to clients/customers as similarly, my business idea was to offer a service.  

Mark should be respected for what he has achieved. His desire to start up a new business in a very competitive market place in another country was an extremely brave decision. I can completely relate to how hard it is to start a business in a crowded market place. However sometimes, its challenges like these that drive you even further to achieving your goals. 

I absolutely love watching The Apprentice and it’s no secret that year was especially exciting for me. I could never have imagined that I would be sitting on the opposite of the desk as the interviewer – when only two years ago I was an interviewee! It was a surreal experience for me. Having been a candidate myself, I can really appreciate how gruelling and intense the interview experience must have been for the remaining five candidates. 

Advice for Mark 

Lord Sugar has not just invested in Mark’s business idea; he has invested in him as a person. Mark has showed some incredible attributes throughout the 12 week process. He came across as having the right ‘people skills’ that Lord Sugar is looking for. Lord Sugar invests time and money in people who show they can commit to making their ideas happen. And having interviewed him myself, it was clear he not only had relevant knowledge, skills and experience he genuinely had the passion and drive to succeed. For those reasons, I am confident he will be successful. 

Final thoughts 

I graduated as a Biochemist back in 2006 and this fuelled my passion for a career in the Life Science sector. I then spent over seven years working in the recruitment sector on behalf of the science community. I really enjoyed working in the recruitment industry, talking to clients and candidates from the science field supporting science jobs / careers. 

At that moment in my career, I felt I had reached a point where I had the relevant qualifications and experience to set up my own recruitment agency. Those who know me, know that science is a subject I am extremely passionate about. My goal was to set up my own recruitment scientific consultancy. So in 2012 I applied for the Apprentice. Wow! What a life changing experience that was.

Winning the Apprentice and receiving that all important £250 cash injection from Lord Sugar meant that my dream became a reality. I was able to finally set up my own company, Hyper Recruitment Solutions. Two years on my ambition to develop the landscape of science recruitment and make a positive impact to the Science & Life Sciences industries is a reality. It just shows that with hard work, commitment and dedication you can achieve your goals. 

The movement you hear the words “You’re hired” your life instantly changes. I wish Mark every success with his new company and welcome him to The Apprentice family! Oh and Mark - don’t forget to think about HRS when you need to recruit for your future sales workforce - just give one of our friendly recruitment consultants a call and we will find the right people for you ;)

My advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a new business, is to never give up on your dreams, always follow your passions. If you fail the first, second or third time, don’t give up. Think positive and keep going.

So if you’ve been inspired to follow your business dream why not apply for next year’s Apprentice. Think you’ve got what it takes to be Lord Sugar’s next business partner? Apply now what have you got to lose? 

 



Next Round: The Interview Stage




With just two more episodes of The Apprentice to go, this year has proved to be yet another exciting series. It’s been an entertaining 10 weeks for everyone sitting watching at home, but let’s not forget this is actually a recruitment process. Next week will be the “interview” stage where the remaining five candidates will face the toughest round of the process. And speaking from experience, I know exactly how that feels. The interviews are real. The focus will be on CVs, application forms and business plans so in actual fact, it is no different to how candidates are hired in the real world. For the candidates this will be an important and crucial stage of the selection process.


I am especially looking forward to the interview stage this year. Why? I hear you asking. Well I am pleased to announce that I have been invited back by Lord Sugar to be part of the interview panel. Yes, that’s right I, alongside Claude Littner, Claudine Collins and Mike Soutar will be interviewing the five remaining candidates.

Why me? Apart from being a qualified recruitment professional who interviews people on a day to day basis, I’ve been involved in the hiring process across many of Lord Sugar’s companies, as well as for my own company, HRS. Moreover, having been a candidate on The Apprentice myself, I know exactly what it feels like to be grilled by the interviewers! And believe me, it’s tough. With this blend of experience I bring valuable expertise and a new dimension to this stage of the selection process and it is for these reasons I was asked to be on the panel as an interviewer by Lord Sugar.

 


The process began with a shortlist of 20 candidates however, only one will be announced at the winner of The Apprentice. That winner will received that all important £250,000 investment for a 50:50 business partnership with Lord Alan Sugar. For me it feels like it was yesterday. It’s still hard to believe that it’s been two years since I won The Apprentice. I have since set up my own specialist Science and Technology Recruitment Consultancy, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, which is continuing to go from strength to strength.  As part of our services at HRS, we personally support jobseekers with preparing for an interview and making the right impression. We also offer services to our clients in running assessment days and interviewing on their behalf to make the right selections for the behavioural and skills fit to their business. Something which I am proud to bring to The Apprentice this year.

The real life lesson here is that you never really know what the future will hold. You never know who you will end up working for or alongside. If someone had told me two years ago, that I’d be sitting on the opposite side of the table as one of the interviewers on The Apprentice I wouldn’t have believed them in a million years! How ironic, the people who once grilled me during the interviews are now my peers and next week I will share the panel with them!

So, reflecting on my experience my advice is, whoever you are meeting, speaking with or even being interviewed by, make sure you leave a long lasting and positive impression on them. Who knows one day the shoe may be on the other foot. Perhaps they will become your peers. I see it happening time and time again in the recruitment world. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so make sure you get it right, as who knows what will happen in the future?

After the interviews in next week’s episode, there will only be two candidates left in the process. I wonder who we will see battling it out in the final! I wish all the finalists the best of luck for the final stages of the process as things become more real than ever at this stage. I look forward to seeing the winner join Lord Sugar in another new business venture and helping them on their way.

The interview stage of The Apprentice airs on Wednesday 17th December at 9pm on BBC One. 



Dr Leah Totton wins the 9th series of The Apprentice and receives a cash injection of £250,000 for a 50:50 business alongside Lord Alan Sugar.

We’ve all been glued to the TV for 12 weeks now and last night the winner of The Apprentice 2013 was announced as Dr Leah Totton. I know a lot of people will say this (as they did with me) but I had my eye on her since the very first week! I am sure you will ask why - well read on.

I had my eye on Dr Totton as when the candidate profiles went to press the week prior to TV I was intrigued to see a fellow scientist enter the grueling business process. I knew how tough it was for me so I wanted to see how well Leah would perform and being a Medical Doctor I was even more fascinated to find out. Curiosity to one side, like most offices up and down the country we ran an office sweepstake here at HRS and I had picked Leah as my candidate to back.

So you can imagine how delighted I was when I was sat in the studios of You're Hired to find out Leah had been crowned as the winner. Leah was an exceptional candidate throughout the process and a well deserved winner in my opinion. Somebody I am happy to step down as the winner of the 2012 show and pass the prestigious baton over to.

You could not make this up - an Apprentice Winner picks at random the next Apprentice Winner!

I am really looking forward to seeing another Scientist embarking on a career in the commercial sector. Dr Leah plans to offer a variety of skin treatments at a chain of her own clinics and hopes to raise the standards of the beauty industry with her medical credentials. I appreciate her aspirations, as similarly I hope that through my own ambitions I can make a change to the landscape of science recruitment and make a positive difference to the industry.

 

So what advice can I give to Leah? And what advice can I give to anybody else thinking about setting up their own company?

 

1. Business Planning

Do you have an idea for a business and think there is a market for it? Have you invented a product you think people will want to buy? When starting a business, this is only the start of things you will need to consider. So what advice can I offer?

It’s really important to research your market and identify potential customers. Why not talk to them and find out if there is a need for your idea? Developing and planning your product or service with real people is very important. These people may well be your future customer base, so keep doing this until you are sure there is a demand for it. It’s also very important to find partners and suppliers you think you could work with to develop and sell your idea. Setting up your business doesn’t happen over night, it can be a lengthy process. So make sure you consider and understand which legal structure is right for you. Finally, the big one – get funding! There are many different sources of business finance, from bank loans to government-backed schemes. Going on The Apprentice is not an option for everyone, so make sure you explore your options and do your research! 

And write a business plan! If you are somebody who comes up with ideas every day - then put it in to a detailed business plan focusing on key areas including the important who, what, where, why and how (think about risks, costs, financial projections, who will help you to get there etc). You will be surprised when you start writing it all down how much you realise you don't know, need to know and also how realistic what you want to do actually is. Don't think about asking for investment without a well thought about business plan or you may have a character like Claude Littner coming down on you like a ton of bricks (deservedly).

 

2. Building the business

I speak from experience when I say building and establishing a new business is not an easy task; it takes great deal of commitment, drive and dedication, to not only survive but to stand out in a very competitive market place. Are you prepared to spend most hours of every day, and pretty much every day of the week to make your business plan become a reality? In the past 12 months I have had to make sacrifices all of which I would do again in a heart beat if I went back in time. This includes ending my wrestling career which I did part time as a hobby but it was a logical and reasonable sacrifice to make. My advice is be prepared to make sacrifices as if you are not committed to putting every ounce of your heart and soul in to the company then it may fail to launch. If my first year of HRS went exactly as my business plan said I would be laughing right now. The truth is hiccups will happen on the way, but it is how you deal with them that counts. I don't look at things as problems, I see them as challenges. Something which excites as I want to overcome it.

3. Advice to Leah

Do not change the person that you are. From watching Leah on The Apprentice she came across as a very methodical, dedicated and ultra passionate professional - all the things which I know will make her new business a success. Some people may have commented to say she came across as cold at times (I never said this for the record) - but trust me if I need to see a Doctor I would rather them come across as being some what clinical in their manner then like Louie Spence!

When working with your new business partner continue to be articulate, focused and passionate about raising the standards in your industry. Lord Sugar invests in people who care, commit and people who want to make it happen. Lord Sugar has an excellent eye for detail, can identify risks quicker then I have ever seen and will speak open and honestly about current topics and the journey ahead. This for me is refreshing and makes our company Hyper Recruitment Solutions fast paced and is a key reason why we are expanding quicker then we first excepted.

You may be knowledgeable about your sector as I am with mine (science recruitment) but trust me there is no such thing as trying to pull the wool over your business partner's eyes. Lord Sugar is the real deal and deserves the respect he has spent his entire career building up. I am happy to justify saying this as working with him over the last year I cannot believe how much he knows about my sector after never working directly in the services industry. An open and honest relationship will build a successful business.

In Summary:

I am living proof that if you set out to achieve your ambitions, with hard work, commitment and long hours, they really can become a reality. So my advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a new business, is to follow your passions, my advice above, and you will no doubt reach your goal. With this said there are still many more long days of hard work ahead for us before we make Hyper Recruitment Solutions the successful business that all of us in the company aim for it to become one day. I have loved every minute of the first year of my company.

I can honestly say, after hearing the words “You’re hired” your life changes! I wish Leah the very best of luck with her new company and its development. And I am here for you when you need to recruit for your future workforce ;)

 

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