Nicola is an Oxford-based entrepreneur with over 20 years in the recruitment industry. She worked for major London recruitment companies including Odgers, and now runs her own head hunting business focusing on start-ups and SME’s around Oxford (mainly Director and Board level appointments across tech based sectors) called Nicola Gardiner Executive Search.
Q: What is your background? Why are you doing this?
A: Greek and Roman studies degree at Exeter, then recruitment ever since! I have a strong network, and understand how the recruitment needs of entrepreneurs are different from big corporates.
Q: What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
A: Someone who devotes themselves to making an idea a commercial reality.
Q: What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
A: Many years of working for others taught me how to do my job, but being an entrepreneur gives me autonomy and flexibility regarding approach and fee structure.
Q: So what would you say are the top skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
A: Thick skin – it can be a bumpy ride with many set-backs. Motivation – to run your own business you need to have more dedication and motivation that those on a payroll. Big picture – you need to think long term and every day detail at the same time.
Q: What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
A: You get out what you put in.
Q: What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
A: Sir Terry Leahy – ex Tesco’s CEO. Worked his way up from the bottom, and understood the detail and big picture of his business.
Q: If you could have 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?
A: How much did you drive the success of your business, and how much the market conditions?
Q: What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
A: Any client referral is hugely satisfying.
Q: What would you say have been some of your mistakes as an entrepreneur?
A: Taking my eye off business development when my current workload is hectic.
Q: What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
A: Oxford has a wealth of entrepreneurs, University spin-outs, VC and PE funds available. It has a fantastic international reputation. There is an undersupply of engineers and developers particularly.
Q: If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship information or resources in Oxfordshire, where would you send them?
A The LaunchPad, Oxford Entrepreneurs drinks evenings, VC contacts.
Q: Any last words of advice?
A: A company is only as good as it’s people.