As “employee number one”, Julian Perigo has been involved with Boston Link since its outset, in 2014. Tracing his career in the industry, however, the Managing Director reveals that his journey in recruitment started well before that, in 2003.
“I’ve been working in the recruitment sector for the majority of my career,” Julian explains, having started out at international recruitment firm Michael Page in London. “I worked there for three years before transferring to their office in Sydney, Australia, where I spent four years before returning to London. After a couple of years, I took over a team that was focusing on the offshore market, which included places like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and Malta was in that group.”
At that stage, Julian knew nothing about Malta, and his first experience with recruiting for the island came about when a client who had just set up a bank here asked for help with finding a COO. “That was my first exposure to recruiting in the Maltese market. I found them a COO, and brought my boss on a business trip to Malta. While here, we met with a few different companies, and realised that there’s a lot of business on the island,” he explains.
Such was his interest that Julian began looking into opening a branch of Michael Page in Malta, but it was not meant to be. “As with a lot of large companies, things were taking a rather long time to happen,” he reveals, although this opened the door for another opportunity. “In the meantime, I had gotten to know some investors in the Isle of Man who also knew of Malta and were keen on opening a business here. Together, we came up with the idea of Boston Link, and launched it in 2014. I was living in London when we launched, and relocated to the island in 2015.”
Delving into their mission at the outset, Julian explains, “we noticed that there was an opportunity for a true specialist recruitment firm in Malta that would bring a dedicated focus to the industry and that would also connect other markets and offer international career opportunities and access to an international talent pool.” And, since opening their doors, that’s exactly what they have done, he smiles. “It’s something that we’ve really demonstrated and been able to enact in our business. We now have specialist teams focusing on different sectors, including gaming, technology and financial services.”
Throughout that time, the business landscape in the industry has experienced some notable changes, not least of which due to COVID-19. “Post-COVID, we’ve been able to do a lot more international business from our Malta hub, and we’re increasing business across the world. The introduction of video interviewing means we’re able to meet clients and take mandates from a gaming company in Buenos Aires or Toronto, and service that through our hub in Malta,” he affirms, noting that Boston Link has always been a multicultural team, with 10 nationalities within the business itself. “Last year, we placed 37 different nationalities,” he notes.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director says that business in Malta is growing like never before. “Part of that is a result of the growth of the domestic market, but a large part is also due to this international growth,” he maintains, so much so that the team opened a branch in the Netherlands earlier this year. “We’re also doing more work in the US and Canada market, and have recently launched a new brand focused on the local domestic market in other industries called Link Talent. This is focused on emerging industries like aviation, pharmaceuticals and medical cannabis among others,” Julian says.
His vast experience in the sector unsurprisingly permearts into his thoughts on leadership, on which the Managing Director says, being a good leader starts with surrounding yourself with the right people. “Often, the best decisions you will make as a leader will be around hiring, and in tandem, the worst decisions you will make as a leader will be around hiring. It’s extremely important to get it right,” he asserts, also advocating for leading by example.
“It’s important not to forget about your own development as a leader, and to upskill yourself. You don’t want to end up being the bottleneck in the organisation. This also applies to personal development as you skill your team. Finally, I think it’s really important for a leader to maintain a healthy balance between their work and spending time with friends and family,” Julian continues.
Imparting a valuable lesson he’s learned throughout his journey, the Managing Director goes on to emphasise the importance of the right execution. “In my view, execution trumps innovation. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t execute it, you have nothing. You can have an idea that is not innovative at all, but if you execute it better than anybody else out there, you will do well.”
Moving on to Boston Link’s plans for the months ahead, Julian reveals plans to recruit internally and grow the company’s headcount, as well as growing their client base internationally. “We’ve also been doing a lot of work on our internal culture, which has always been a big part of our business. In fact, earlier this year we got a FLEXA certification, which certifies us as a flexible employer, and we’ve got a few more things on our to-do list to continue to build on this and make us an employer of choice.”
Ending our discussion with a final thought on leadership, directed at those who are considering taking on a leadership role, Julian advises, “if you get the opportunity to take on a leadership role, I would entirely recommend that you do it. This is directed at those who are perhaps not sure in their ability to be a leader, and are in a situation where someone else sees that in them – it’s so rewarding, both professionally and personally. I think everybody has the ability to be a good leader.”
This interview forms part of the 50 Business Leaders 2022 project. The new online serialisation on MaltaCEOs.mt will feature 50 distinguished business leaders, CEOs, and emerging business minds to create debate and encourage business leaders to share their journey with our readers.
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