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Mark Badley

Mark Badley on enhancing individualism through technology

By Mark Badley

Founder, Ronin

Ronin: the captivating name of Mark Badley’s cutting-edge company derives from a wandering samurai who had no lord or master.

The same individualism, authenticity, integrity and passion associated with such a historical warrior lies at the heart of Mark’s business ethos.

Specialising in procurement recruitment, Ronin has built an enviable international client base spanning from Playstation to the Bank of America. Here, Mark shares how the company has harnessed the power of lateral thinking and technology to deliver individualised solutions in a specialist niche.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind the origins of your business name

The name Ronin comes from an inspiration of mine; a samurai called Miyamoto Musashi. He lived his life roaming as a samurai and he wrote The Book Of Five Rings. I like individuals, people who don't run with the herd, who are passionate about the things that they do and who are individual for sincere reasons. When you allow your thoughts to manifest into ideas, live those ideas and take ownership of those ideas; that is true individualism.

How did you refine your specialisms?

I worked with Matchtech for a procurement focused department, and then later in London, I specialised in procurement recruitment.

The business is really an extension of the experience I gained in those first four years within that marketplace. It was the obvious niche for me to work in, in terms of developing clients’ understanding and some of the needs within that profession.

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"We’re very focused around technologies, there's a whole suite of technologies that sit behind our recruitment service, which have allowed us to provide an assessment focus."

Where does your entrepreneurial drive come from?

I’ve always been like that from a young age, I used to knock on people’s doors at 10 years old washing cars and I had a tuckshop business at school.

When I went to work in recruitment, once I understood the model and the operations behind the business, I just wanted to do it myself.

When you first start out you have certain dreams in terms of scale, x turnover, x profit, x number of staff and clients. Then you realise there is more to it than just scale. You can hit your numbers, but you might be doing something unsustainable for yourself. Now I judge my success a bit differently, I want to make it as profitable as possible but enjoy working and not really look too far ahead.

What have been the major changes you’ve seen during your experience in business?

The internet is one of the major changes, it’s one of the biggest enabler’s humanity has ever had. But with great power comes great responsibility and I think it’s often irresponsibly used. You’ve got the potential to learn anything and become really fulfilled, but so many people are just taking in information that doesn’t connect, worrying about everybody else’s best day not being as good as their average day.

The way that people engage with you now is different too, it’s far harder to get people on the phone. Before it was a case of picking up the phone and using that first 30 seconds to get some engagement, but putting that into a message is challenging and you have to be clever in terms of how you get around that.

"When you allow your thoughts to manifest into ideas, live those ideas and take ownership of those ideas; that is true individualism."

Mark Badley. Ronin

How is technology transforming your business processes and culture?

We’re very focused around technologies, there’s a whole suite of technologies that sit behind our recruitment service, which have allowed us to provide an assessment focus. We use behavioural testing, competency testing, cognitive testing and we were one of the first agencies to start pre- recorded video interviewing.

It works very well, but technology is just the conduit to making something happen. You have to position the client to get them to look at the problem differently, and position the candidates to get them to understand how they need to communicate, and that’s the human bit we do in the middle.

How do you feel about the world of recruitment in 2020?

In the recruitment market, a lot of businesses are not really adding a lot of value to their clients, and those businesses are suffering now, because their overheads are huge, and their incomes suddenly drop. Small businesses like ours are very agile, we’ve got low overheads and relatively strong cash.

I think we are heading into high unemployment and the economy’s going to struggle. But there will always be opportunities, even in what seem to be the hardest times, I think the secret is to stay positive and make sure you’re finding as many of those opportunities as you possibly can.