Strengthening our presence in UK: Introducing our new partners Collingwood Executive Search

by Michael Sarsteiner in — December 2023
We are very pleased to strengthen our presence in UK! Doug Mackay is the Managing Director of Collingwood Executive Search, a boutique Executive Search & Leadership Development consultancy that joins Talentor to cover the England and Wales market complementing and joining forces with our other partners from Denholm Associates (UK and Scotland).

Collingwood Executive Search is a friendly and down to earth team who enjoy constantly pushing each other to improve, develop, and delight their clients. Repeat business is one of their key objectives and around 75% of the company revenue every year comes from repeat clients with 99% of all their clients returning at some point. Around a further 20% comes from current clients referring them to help their network recruit senior roles.

Get to know more about them in this interview with their Managing Director, Doug Mackay!

Doug Mackay Collingwood Executive Search Team
  • Welcome to Talentor Doug! First things first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Collingwood?

I started my career in Executive Search in 1998 and set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside my wife, Claire Mackay. I have a BA (Hons) in Business Studies and specialized in marketing and French. My degree involved spending a year in France with Xerox which is where Claire and I met!

Like many in recruitment I didn’t actually choose a career in Executive Search, I applied for a sales role back in 1998 via an Executive Search firm in Warrington and they convinced me to join their graduate scheme instead, and that’s where it all began!

  • Do you have other hobbies or things you enjoy doing with your family that you would like to share?

I tend to spend most of my time dog walking in the beautiful English countryside, cycling, playing golf or going to Anfield to watch Liverpool Football Club! I am very family centric and my wife and two children mean everything to me.

  • Why did you start Collingwood Executive Search?

I worked for another boutique Executive Search company for 8 years before starting Collingwood. It was a typical recruitment business focused on revenue and not on the welfare of its employees nor delighting its clients. I decided to take control and create a family orientated culture that I would love to work in and a services portfolio that would solve our client problems. Collingwood was actually the street that I lived in when I was a child in Scotland. It was a great street with friendly and supportive neighbours.

“Collingwood Executive Search was set up in 2005 and has gone through several transformations to create and shape the strong team we have now. I lead our sales and marketing strategy and work hard to nurture and grow a portfolio of aspirational clients who align with Collingwood’s values and with whom we love partnering.”

  • What is your company´s USP for clients and candidates?

We are best known for always finding a solution to our clients’ problems! Our clients would describe us as relentless, resilient, innovative and determined in our pursuit to delight them. We have a huge depth of experience in our team and have recruited in over 35 countries since being established in 2005. Recruitment isn’t always the right solution and so we have a team who help our clients to coach and develop their leadership teams.

  • What is a typical profile that you recruit?

We typically recruit Board and Senior Leadership roles but also help to recruit high performing sales teams and very niche or specialist roles.

  • Who is a typical client for you?

Many of our clients are privately owned international companies with revenues ranging from £0 as a start-up to €3 billion. We do have some large international US companies that we partner too with revenues c. $20 billion but our love is privately owned businesses that we can make a real difference to!

  • What is one thing you would recommend to companies that not only want to recruit great talents, but also retain them?

My pet hate is companies believing that recruitment is just a transaction they have to go through rather than a real opportunity to invest in their business. My recommendation would be to really invest time to think about any recruitment they need to do. What is needed to drive their strategy? What profile of person will add value now and in the future? Design a recruitment experience that will entice and inspire THE best talent in the market and take all the care and attention they would if they were investing $multi-million in a new piece of capital equipment.

  • What are the biggest learnings from your career?

Work with people you love collaborating with. Chase aspirational clients that will treat you with respect and whom you can build a long-term partnership with and don’t chase short term fees.

  • What advice would you give your younger self or any young person when starting their career?

Embrace a growth mindset and invest time every day to learn. Never settle and always keep pushing your boundaries. Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated too.

  • You have spent your entire career in recruitment and executive search. What is your favorite thing about this industry?

I love the fact that every day is different, every client is different and you can constantly change your horizons. Recruitment is never dull! My favourite thing though has been making so many amazing friendships with my clients and colleagues.

  • What surprises foreign companies the most when they are recruiting specialists in the UK?

The lack of languages we can speak! Also, everyone doesn’t live in London! The UK is actually quite a big place with some amazing cities like Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh.

  • What are the most frequent intercultural problems? What's the biggest cultural misunderstanding that you've seen?

We have to do a lot of education to international companies depending on where they need to recruit in the UK. There are many different cultures, the talent pools vary hugely and the salaries needed to attract candidates also varies considerably depending on which location you are in.

  • What did you learn from working interculturally?

As a recruiter I have always spent time to really understand the cultures I have recruited in. Ask lots of questions and be respectful to each client and candidate to identify and understand the culture nuances.

  • What is something that a foreign company would never guess about the british labour market?

Although the UK is relatively small there are so many different cultures as you travel around the 4 countries. London really does not represent a UK culture!

  • Why did you decide to join the Talentor network?

As a business owner I am keen to be involved with other owners to learn from them and help Collingwood to become a better company. We are frequently asked if we can help recruit internationally and we haven’t been able to help all our clients due to the size of our team and so Talentor could provide new solutions for us. I am also keen for my team to build new friendships and partnerships with their peers within the Talentor network.

  • What do you think is great about being part of an international network / the Talentor network?

It is a huge opportunity to learn from other business owners whilst also offering our clients true international recruitment solutions through locally based teams.

We thank Doug for sharing with us about himself and his company. But most of all, we warmly welcome him and the Collingwood Executive Search team to our Talentor community. We are sure it will be a wonderful experience to collaborate worldwide!

Learn more about Collingwood Executive Search (Talentor UK - England and Wales) here.