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20 Years at Macildowie - James Stewart's first EVER blog

Posted over 5 years ago by


I’m writing my first blog on the 20th Anniversary of my first day with Macildowie. 

It’s just another first in a long line of new experiences I have had while working at Macs and it got me thinking about something that’s close to my heart - staff retention and engagement - what makes someone stay with an organisation for 20 years? 

At my first interview, Paul Macildowie asked me what I planned to do in ten years time.  I gave a classic recruitment interview reply –

‘I want to be running my own recruitment business’. 

At the time it was true – so why am I still here and more engaged than ever ?  Particularly nowadays in the age of portfolio careers.

For me it’s been a combination of many things but the main one that comes to mind is ‘Opportunity’. 

I’ve had the opportunity to develop and grow, mirroring Macildowie’s development and growth (from just 4 people when I started). Even more critically for me I’ve had significant involvement in steering that development and growth.  Whatever else Macs offers, if that opportunity hadn’t continued to be there I wouldn't be here now. 

I’ve recruited for more than 18 out of my 20 years at Macs initially as consultant and then team manager. 

I started a number of new markets in our existing discipline (Finance) and then was able to successfully launch and build our first new division (HR & Training) which I ran for many years.  I’m still really proud of that. 

I’ve met, worked with and recruited some great people along the way including clients, candidates, colleagues and suppliers.


In 2007  Paul Macildowie sold the business to Synetecs.  At that point I thought I’d work to the end of my earn out period and look for something new but the investment that new ownership brought and the opportunity to keep doing new things and influencing the direction of the business kept me here.

In the last few years I have done something completely new.

I now have the job of re-engineering our Business Systems & Processes. 

I wanted the chance to be able to continue to influence the whole business and use a skill set that I hadn’t really developed as much as it could have in a recruiting role.  Macs has given me the opportunity to prove it could add value. 

We are at an incredibly exciting point in our growth where our success means we are expanding at a significantly faster rate than we have at any time since I joined.  There’s more opportunity here than there ever has been (and there’s already been a lot).

Using my recruitment background my job is to get our systems and processes to deliver the same kinds of quality experiences and results that I know our people do, increasing average revenue per head and making the business more easily scaleable as contimnuing to grow means even more opportunity for everyone involved.

It’s genuinely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done because it’s been the most impactful for the business in 20 years of being here.

Reading back what I’ve just written in this blog I recognise that it could read like a puff piece for Macildowie but I make no apology for that – I’m proud to work here and I genuinely love the business and the people in it. 

I still get out of bed every morning with a grin on my face already thinking about the next thing we can do to improve how things are. 

The difference at Macildowie is that if I can make the business case, I’m confident I’ll get the opportunity to do it.

So I’ve discovered that what I really like doing even more than recruiting is playing a key part in influencing the successful growth of a recruitment business using all of the experience and skill sets I can bring to it.  Macildowie has allowed me to do that.  Talking to my colleagues, I’m not the only one. 

That’s why I still feel as if there's plenty more road for my Macildowie journey to run and my business cards still say James Stewart at Macildowie…