To stand out from the crowd is challenging for any recruitment business and it depends very heavily on the people you employ, the training and development they receive, and the leadership from the directors and managers.
04 | A View from the Bridge
06 | Digital Recruitment Outlook
08 | SphereDNA
10 | Our People
12 | Growth
14 | Our Customers
16 | Brand and Marketing
18 | Investing in our Future
20 | Some Final Thoughts as we Make our Plan Happen
23 | Key Goals
Before launching Sphere in October 2012 we
had a three year plan for the business with
a clear emphasis on providing a specialist
quality recruitment service in the burgeoning
digital market. To become successful in such
a competitive arena we recognised the need
to build a motivated and committed team who
believed in our approach and our values, and who
had the desire to travel with us at a rapid pace.
To stand out from the crowd is challenging for any recruitment
business and it depends very heavily on the people you employ,
the training and development they receive, and the leadership
from the directors and managers. The creation of this five year
strategic plan involved input from the entire company and it is now
up to us to deliver it. Its purpose is to put down in black and white
our objectives and goals for the next five years and to provide a
road map for the direction in which we want to travel, as well as
our likely destination in 2021. But that destination will simply be
the first step on a much longer journey that will provide our people
with opportunity and our customers with outstanding service.
At the Davos conference in 2016 the President and CEO of
Hewlett Packard, Meg Whitman said “You can always go faster
than you think you can”. And that is our credo going forward
into the next five years.
Sphere – Defining our Future 5
A View from the Bridge
Sphere – Defining our Future 7
As digital technology has grown so too has
the demand for talented people. Marketing
departments are moving further towards digital,
now over one third of all marketing roles are
digitally focused. This trend is likely to accelerate
quickly over the coming years as Ecommerce
booms and ad and marketing technology plays
an ever greater role in how brands communicate
with their audiences. The growth in this sector
has created a huge number of jobs globally and
recruitment is playing an more vital role in the
development of the digital world.
In the last two years the digital sector has grown rapidly. By 2020 it
is expected to add $1.3 trillion to the global economy. The use of
smartphones has played a key part in this; in the UK people access
data on their phones nearly 200 times a day. Advancements in
technology and consumer habits have resulted in 90% of total data
production taking place in the last two years. Furthermore, it has
allowed the emergence of companies such as Uber, who are an
app company; they own no vehicles and do not directly hire or pay
drivers. It exists only through the growth of technology.
The UK has been at the forefront of digital growth. Online
spending in the UK is the highest amongst major economies
at an average of £2,000 per person per year. A report by the
International Communications Market Report states that the UK
has one of the strongest digital economies, driven by advertising,
online spending and entertainment.
What does this mean for the digital recruitment market? Quite
simply, more demand, more candidates, and expanding
businesses and teams. In recent years, the developments in “big
data” and programmatic and real time buying have led to targeted
online advertising, creating the need for experts in these fields.
This is one of a number of niche digital recruitment sectors where
Sphere have established ourselves as a leading recruitment
company. The digital recruitment sector has outperformed the
overall recruitment market in the UK and is expected to again with
double digit growth projected in the foreseeable future.
Digital Recruitment Outlook
Tony Hsieh, CEO of billion $ ecommerce business
Zappos, said “Our number one priority is
company culture. Our whole belief is that if
you get the culture right, most of the other
stuff like delivering great customer service
or building a long-term enduring brand will
just happen naturally on its own.” And this is
very much a view we share at Sphere. Our vision,
values, mission, culture and our “SphereDNA”
are of critical importance in our plan to build an
Since we launched Sphere in 2012 the company’s DNA has
been an important part of our success and we want to continue
to harness an ambitious, friendly and high performing culture
while maintaining a strong work ethic. By doing simple things
brilliantly, by being positive in our approach and always aiming to
achieve exceptional results for our customers we will continue to
grow and develop.
Our strategy team that looked into Culture, Vision, Values and
Community made a number of recommendations and set some
key objectives for the business during the next five years.
• Put a big emphasis on recruiting quality people who share our
work ethic and ambition.
• Use workshops and peer-to-peer learning to create a culture of
excellence and high performance throughout the business.
• Ensure leadership is visible and motivating.
• Provide and recognise that outstanding communications and
transparency, as the business grows, is an important element
to our future success.
• Improve our induction and training programmes and use
mentoring and buddies to help new people fit in from day one.
• Use Progress* to ensure that everyone in the business is
focussed on their career and their career development.
• Get involved in corporate social responsibility by supporting
a designated charity each year and play an active role in our
EXPERTISE – Know our markets and know our customers.
Be specialist, be an expert.
PARTNERSHIP – Work together, listen, add value. Build long
lasting relationships with customer and peers. Be a partner.
PURPOSE – Start projects with an end in mind. Have reason
behind our action. Focus on a result. Be solutions driven.
RESPONSIBILITY – Work with integrity. Understand our
responsibility in everything that we do. Look first at ourselves.
Be an example to others. Be responsible.
SIMPLICITY – Do small and basic things brilliantly all the time.
Be clear and concise. Keep things simple.
AMBITION – Go above and beyond. Never settle for mediocrity.
Expect and strive for excellence in everything we do. Be ambitious.
ADAPTABILITY – Be prepared. Embrace and drive change.
Be opportunistic. Be adaptable.
Sphere – Defining our Future 9
* Progress is a simple career development plan. Employees can follow two routes to our board of directors: “Consulting” – a billing figure head role with no man management
responsibility or “Managing” – a managerial role. Staff are reviewed quarterly, six monthly or annually, depending on their level of experience. Progress reviews happen in all
areas of our business for both fee earning and non-fee earning members of the team.
A specialist digital media,
marketing and technology
recruitment business that will
achieve great results for our
people and our customers by
having meaningful and engaging
experiences with them that
enable growth and get results.
Our business is all about people, so we have a
great deal to consider in this area to help ensure
we grow and develop as a business in the next
five years. We want to continually improve our
service to our customers and provide our people
with opportunity, development and challenge. We
wholeheartedly agree with the Head of Investors
in People, Paul Devoy when he said “Put your
people at the heart of your vision and they’ll
use their talents to achieve it”. At Sphere we
recognise that it’s about more than just words; it’s
about some practical actions that help us achieve
our goals, and our strategy team that looked at HR
made the following suggestions about our goals
and objectives in the period up to 2021.
• We will improve our sales collateral and our presence in the
marketplace in order to be noticed and recognised as one of
the very best recruiters in the digital landscape.
• Our reward and incentive programme must remain innovative
and highly competitive.
• We will retain a strong Director contribution to all aspects
of our recruitment.
• We will improve our induction training as well as ensuring our
training at every level is more consistent, highly visible and
• We intend to hire an in-house trainer to strengthen our
recruitment skills and use external trainers for management
training and development.
• Retention of people is fundamental to providing our customers
with a high standard of service and is the cornerstone of
our HR strategy and our understanding of what makes good
• We recognise that our business benefits from the passion
shown by our Directors and the culture that has been created
since 2012. We will work hard to retain this unique aspect.
• We will look for continual improvement in a number of ways
including our buddy and mentoring schemes, innovative,
recognition and reward schemes and career progression
that is both well-defined and, where needed, flexible.
• We agree with the old proverb “All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy” and we will develop the “Fun Squad” to help
keep this a reality at Sphere. Furthermore, we will create an
environment that encourages people to engage in projects
outside of the day job like corporate social responsibility and
supporting our chosen charity.
Sphere – Defining our Future 11
• We will make Progress highly visible to people from their first
day in the business and throughout their career with Sphere.
• Progress will play a key role in developing people and
providing everyone at Sphere with a clear and simple plan to
continually progress and develop into new and exciting roles
within our business.
• We plan to appoint a full time HR professional to manage
and develop all aspects of our recruitment, training and
• We will introduce the Intranet to make our HR policy and
processes clear and accessible.
Train people well enough
so they can leave, treat
them well enough so they
don’t want to. If you look
after your staff, they’ll look
after your customers. It’s
Richard Branson, Virgin
Our team each bring unique skills and
knowledge to deliver a world-class company.
The UK recruitment industry is valued at £31.5bn
and currently employs some 100,000 people. It
is anticipated to grow by 20% over the next three
years and the digital marketplace is confidently
expected to outperform most other sectors
in percentage terms. Contract recruitment, in
particular, grew by almost 10% in 2015 and is a
key growth area in the years ahead.
At Sphere our desire for growth is based on the principles that
have guided us from day one; proper research and planning,
infrastructure and finance firmly in place, and the people and
determination to succeed. Above all, our growth will be built
around our customers and their needs to recruit the very best.
It was Bill Gates who said “The competition to hire the best
will increase in the years ahead”. We think that’s exactly right
particularly looking ahead to the next five years.
We have identified six areas of growth during the lifetime
of this strategic plan:
• Grow in all our existing teams and markets in London.
• Develop our Graduate Recruitment arm – important for
Sphere (attracting the best graduate talent for ourselves)
and for our customers.
• Establish and grow a contract recruitment division to
complement our permanent teams.
• Open one or more regional offices to service customers in the
North West or Midlands.
• Establish an international division leading to an overseas office.
• Diversify into a specialist financial recruitment area under the
Harrison Willis brand.
Sphere – Defining our Future 13
By 2020 the digital sector is expected to
add $1.3 trillion to the global economy.
Online spending in the UK is the highest
amongst major economies at an average
of £2,000 per person per year.
Over 1/3 of all marketing roles
are now digitally focused.
If everyone is moving
forward together, then
success takes care
Henry Ford, Ford
Our aim is to be the best and most consistent supplier of talent
to the majority of businesses in all of our markets. And we want
to build an enduring and valuable recruitment business through
developing deep relationships with our customers where we are a
valued and trusted partner. That’s something we have done since
we started and something we continue to strive to do every day.
The President of Harley Davidson, John Russell, summed it up for
us when he said “The more you engage with customers the
clearer things become and the easier it is to determine
what you should be doing for them.”
Our strategy team that considered Customer Experience
highlighted a number of actions and goals for the business over
the next five years:
Key Account Management
• We plan to create greater transparency around who our key
• We will create a set of values and guidelines that define key
accounts and set standards and expectations with them.
Data and Analysis
• We want to use data to analyse our performance with
our customers and share this data and insight with them
in order to further develop our relationships and drive
• We must use data internally to create greater transparency
around key customer performance.
• We will use an Intranet to create greater and clearer visibility
around key accounts and who is in each key account team.
• We will communicate new customer wins, hires made and
client meetings that take place on a weekly basis to the
• Improve our sales collateral for individuals, teams and the
business, that will better communicate to our customers our
strengths and capabilities.
• Ensure we provide appropriate and timely feedback to our
customers in whatever format they require.
• Review our key customer performance on a regular and
systematic way to ensure we provide to customers what we
say we will.
• Consider a reward system for new business wins and
especially cross selling and driving performance with
• Use Progress to develop Executive and Principal Consultants
who play a leading role with significant customers across teams
and offices and at every level of our customer’s business.
Sphere – Defining our Future 15
Since the 1st October 2012 when we first opened our doors for business, Sphere has been a
customer centric business and we foresaw from the outset that we would grow with and around
our customers and their expansion plans. And as the demand for digital talent intensifies over the
next few years we are committed to finding the very best people for our growing customer base.
Since our inception
customers repeat customers customers that have recruited
5 or more people through Sphere
350 287 165
Sphere – Defining our Future 17
There are two fundamental objectives of the
Marketing Department at Sphere. Firstly, to
identify, generate and engage with the best
possible pool of candidates working in each of
our specialist markets. Secondly, to raise the
profile of Sphere with our customers – from
start-ups to multinationals – and to make them
aware of our offering. We will communicate
our ability to provide a specialist and
knowledgeable recruitment consultancy service
that identifies the best possible talent for any
given hiring assignment.
In order to achieve our marketing objectives, we will
work to a simple seven-point marketing plan over the
next five years:
1. THE WEBSITE. Recruitment websites are the starting point for
career orientated individuals seeking a new role, and our website
needs to be continually improved to ensure it is the best it can
possibly be. Specifically we will create a new website during
2016/2017, adding new features and improving SEO.
2. EVENTS AND THOUGHT-LEADERSHIP. We recognise
that as a young company we need to raise our profile over the
next five years in each of our specialist sectors. We want to
gain instant recognition from both candidates and customers.
Holding innovative and noteworthy industry relevant events,
lunches and seminars, will help do this whilst providing our
customers with useful information and opportunities to connect
with one another. We are a data led marketing business, we
have brilliant data and we want to use this to create useful
ongoing surveys and analysis that we can share with all of our
communities – increasing our brand presence and awareness.
3. THE BRAND. Our brand represents all that we stand for
in terms of our culture, our style, our approach and our
professionalism, and we plan to strengthen it during the period
of the strategic plan, both in terms of being recognised as
a premier player in the digital recruitment arena but also as
one that is trusted and respected. We think that the best way
to build our brand is for our customers to experience us, so
hosting events and providing “real” engagements between
Sphere and our customers is critical to our strategy.
Brand and Marketing
4. INTRANET AND INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS. We
regard our internal communications as vitally important; not
only to ensure our employees are up to date and fully aware
of all aspects of the company, our performance and what’s
being planned in the future but also, critically, to ensure each
specialist Sphere team is aware of what work other Sphere
teams are doing with our key customers. Our company wide
knowledge and awareness of our customer’s businesses and
their needs must be as comprehensive as it is possible to be.
To help achieve this we will introduce an Intranet.
5. THE TEAM. As Sphere grows and develops over the next five
years we are committed to building a marketing team that is
well resourced and able to support our recruitment specialists.
A multi-disciplined and talented team will be put in place to
ensure that we support our consultants and they in turn can
support our customers.
6. COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCING. As
the business grows and the shortage of digital talent increases
Sphere is committed to ensuring we increase our network, in
all its forms. Building candidate and customer communities to
identify and make available the best roles in the market and
best and most engaged pool of available talent, is critical to our
success and that of our customers. Increasingly, some of the
best candidates are those that are not actively seeking a career
move – we need to continue to identify and engage with those
people on an ongoing basis.
7. ADVERTISING. We are committed to a significant advertising
spend in order to ensure we are always able to supply our
recruitment consultants, and in turn our customers, with quality
candidates for each of our specialist divisions. Our marketing
team will be tasked with improving the effectiveness of our
advertising and analysing the results we achieve.
If you build a great
experience, customers tell
each other about it. Word
of mouth is very powerful.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Welcome to Sphere’s Intranet!
Sphere – Defining our Future 19
Warren Buffet once said “Someone’s sitting in
the shade today because someone planted
a tree a long time ago.” And that is something
that we have been aware of since we launched
Sphere. We think that to arrive at the destination
we want to in five years’ time we need to start
“planting the trees for tomorrow”.
Much of our strategy is about enabling growth, whether that’s
through our customers, our core teams, or branching out to
new areas. We want to grow a robust and enduring business by
investing in our future. Be that an exceptional “business operations
team”, finance department, marketing team, technology or office
space. Investing in our future and investing in our business is
what will allow us to do this and getting this right over the next five
years enables us to grow with speed and agility. To do this we
will need to continue on the same track we have since launching;
this means having excess office space to grow into, having the
right team and people in place, and the right IT systems and
technology and processes that are scalable and capable of
supporting a bigger business.
We have identified 7 areas where we can continue to
invest in our future:
1. THE “BACK OFFICE”: Have 3 teams: Finance, HR and Office
2. IT AND TECHNOLOGY: Get the right IT infrastructure and
support – hosted cloud solution.
3. OUR DATABASE: Own our database – to reduce costs and
give greater capability.
4. “HR PROCESSES”: Build our HR, training documents and
5. ATTRACTING, TRAINING AND RETAINING TALENT: Have
an in-house team responsible for HR, including training and
6. INTERNAL COMMUNICATION: Have an Intranet to support
7. OFFICE SPACE: Either take another floor in Imperial House or
move to a bigger office.
Investing in our Future
Rowing harder doesn’t
help if the boat is headed
in the wrong direction.
Kenichi Ohmae, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
We are investing time and money in our
Sphere Intranet to ensure better results
for our customers.
Putting our strategic plan together for the next
five years has been great fun and has involved
the whole company – some 37 people, and
now that it is complete we need to set about
doing what we have talked about over the last
six months! The next five years will be a really
exciting time at Sphere and we will all need
to be adaptable and forward thinking as the
company grows and is transformed from a small
niche recruitment player to a bigger and far more
As always we only want the very best. Over achievement, high
performance and high performers create great and winning teams.
All that we do must be underpinned by a desire to be successful.
Sphere will continue to provide people with amazing tools and
support to achieve outstanding results and we must all work hard
every second of every day to achieve great results individually,
collectively, and for our customers. Positivity, focus, keeping things
simple and good old fashioned hard work will remain integral to our
“way of being”. Adapting and embracing positive change in an ever
changing business will be a critical part of our success.
I tend to find the harder
I work the luckier I get.
Some Final Thoughts as we Make our Plan Happen
Sphere – Defining our Future 21
1. Grow in all our existing teams
and markets in London.
2. Establish and grow a contract recruitment
division to complement our permanent teams.
3. Develop our Graduate Recruitment
arm – important for ourselves
(attracting the best graduate talent to
Sphere) and for our customers.
4. Identify and research further areas
of expansion including a regional
and international office.
5. Diversify into a specialist financial recruitment
business under the Harrison Willis brand.
6. Put a big emphasis on recruiting
quality people who share our
work ethic and ambition.
7. Improve induction and training at
every level of our business and use
workshops and peer to peer learning to
create a culture of excellence and high
performance throughout the business.
8. Use Progress to create a clear career
path for people and create different roles
to suit the needs of the business.
9. Improve and invest in a “flexible” benefits
scheme for all of our employees.
10. Invest in and develop our Finance, HR
and Internal Recruitment and Training,
Marketing and Office Management teams.
11. Ensure leadership is visible and motivating.
12. Focus on developing and growing significant
“key customer accounts”, providing multiple
services to our customers by hiring for
them in different areas of their business.
13. Position ourselves at the “heart” of
each of our specialist markets. Do this
through hosting industry events, through
surveying and listening to our customers
and through sharing valuable and useful
data and relevant market insight.
14. Use “best in class” data and analytics
to provide useful insight to our
customers that improve their ability
to hire better people faster.
15. Invest in and use an Intranet that will help
our business by sharing information about
our customers more clearly as well as
also important company information.
16. Invest in technology and the best tools to do
our job and run and scale the business.
17. Ensure we always have more than
enough office space – to avoid
disruption and make growing easy.
18. Build a new website.
19. Continue to make a significant
investment in building our brand and in
advertising across multiple platforms.
20. Get more involved in corporate social
responsibility by supporting a designated
charity each year and play an active
role in our local communities.
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