Behind the Scenes – Scott, Founder and CEOby Hawtrey Dene
The first in a series of internal interviews behind the scenes at Hawtrey Dene, starting with our CEO and Founder, Scott.
What led you to establish Hawtrey Dene?
I’d always wanted to work for myself but never knew quite how I’d do it and in what capacity. I’ve been taught a lot by some exceptional bosses and mentors, many of whom I’m still in touch with, and as I got on in business I really wanted to put those lessons into practice. In 2010 after a couple of years in a full time role it turned into a consultancy position and this allowed me the freedom and time to start Hawtrey Dene. I even kept the first mock up of the first logo, which we never used, but I had carried it around and played with an idea for a few years. It’s been a great journey since there were just me and a dog (Alexis, the first office dog, who is now retired in Kent) in a Soho basement, and every day brings new opportunities and challenges and I don’t regret it.
Who has inspired you?
My parents and many of my family to start with, They’re all self-starters and moved, in just a couple of generations, from being pretty hard up (but happy) living in shared rooms in shared houses just after the war, to being property owners and business owners – I’ve had the big footsteps of Mum and Dad to follow in and they’re great role models to try and live up to. I think that family is the most important thing in the world and the best one’s help keep you grounded whilst still encouraging and supporting you. My other half is particularly good at that! I’m also lucky to work with people that I’ve known for a long time (one of our NEDs almost since I was born) and others with whom I have worked in previous roles which has helped develop a close-knit team. Many of them have also introduced people they know to the business and there’s a strong sense of camaraderie running through the business.
Since my first full time job at M&S in 1994, right up to now, I’ve been lucky to work with and learn from some inspiring and clever people. I’ve not always learnt or listened straight away, sometimes to my detriment, but I’ve been shaped by some great ideas from clever and caring people and I hope I offer some of that sort of support back to our teams and more widely in other ways through my political and charity work.
How has the business changed since 2010?
The key changes are in in the scope of work, the number of clients and the bigger, busier and noisier office. We now confidently deliver projects across the globe (Saudi Arabia, New York and Benelux to name a few recently) and covering the entire supply chain. Our projects all have elements of change and transformation within them and increasingly we have seen clients asking us to step outside of our cost or procurement field and apply our skills in a more general business issue. I think as a business we are more focused on what we do and how we do it and we’ve honed and continually improved and updated our operating approach to reflect what we learn on each and every project. I suppose the most obvious thing I would say is that it all feels more ‘grown up’. We’ve now (2018) got an overall team of around 24, some who have been with us since the early days, a few are now married, some engaged and one had their first baby, Leo, last year. We’ve always tried to have a family feel to the business and as we’ve grown I hope we’re managing to retain that; it’s an area that as a leadership team we constantly focus on.
What are the three lessons you’d wished you’d learnt earlier?
- Always be yourself; if you out on an act it’s impossible to live up to and puts you on edge. Pretending to be someone or something else dulls your skills and hides your true strengths.
- Be enthusiastic, people love to see that you love what you do. I’m often asked by clients ‘do all of your staff have such excitement in their eyes about what they do?’ I’m proud to say yes and its key to our recruitment process – we want people who are proud of what they do every day.
- Remember that without clients you’re nothing. It’s not a cliche to say that we exist only to serve our clients and their satisfaction and happiness is all we should strive for. Their satisfaction (and delight) comes from results and from delivering great outcomes but much more than just that it’s about how we treat them and how we stand beside and support them as true partners with the services we offer.
What do you think makes Hawtrey Dene different in the marketplace?
We’re all about people and helping people; whilst we’re cost and procurement transformation experts it all starts with the understanding that what we need to do is change behaviour across the supply chain. In everything we do we drill into our teams that relationships are at the heart of our business and that emotional intelligence, empathy and critically, listening, are the most important skills; we can teach (and refine the skills) of anyone to help them run projects and be amazing procurement leaders , good people skills can only really be honed. It’s key to find people who have the right attitude and approach and who get on well with people in all areas and at all levels, along with a real desire to learn and improve, to start with.
How do you see the future for Hawtrey Dene?
We’ve plans to continue steady growth and to build on what we’ve become well regarded for delivering. We’re a small business with pretty amazing clients and a reach that helps us compete with larger players. We get strong testimonials from clients and referrals are a powerful part of our growth. We’re really proud of how we’ve developed the business and the services we offer and we’ve an ambitious, slow and steady growth plan laid out. It’s one of our key values that we get stuck in and deliver results. It’s a simple ethos but we don’t just prepare strategic reviews or diagnostics, we work end to end and that finishes with the successful delivery of change and improvement. We’re launching some new service areas in 2019 and have strengthened our executive support team with some great advisors and Non-Execs. We’ve got some talented people with big ideas and as we continue to grow we will seed those ideas and see which take shape; there’s really not a limit on what we can do in the future.
What are the biggest challenges you have overcome?
Getting in front of new clients and making sure we have the right resource in place at the right time; the latter perhaps our biggest challenge. As a business we’ve learnt a lot about business development and we have significantly increased our conversations with C-suite decision makers in a number of sectors, some established and some new. It’s important to us that our teams embody the Hawtrey Dene vision and values and finding people who ‘get’ the ideas we have and the approach we take is hard but ultimately fulfilling when the right people come on board.
What has been your proudest moment since you founded Hawtrey Dene?
Perhaps finding out that only 5% of businesses survive for five years or more and then celebrating out fifth anniversary. Seeing our clients, family, friends and colleagues in one place (we had our party at Christie’s in Bond Street) and the real warmth and friendship in the room was humbling. We’re now looking forward to our first decade in business in 2020 and I’m confident we will need a bigger venue.
How would you describe your role?
My job is a support role, it’s about enabling the teams to deliver and supporting them in a variety of ways. From the basic answering questions and signing off proposals through to intervention at a senior level when required. Recently as we’ve landed a number of new clients I have also gone back to the floor and stepped in to lead a new engagement which is great fun. As we grow it’s also key for me to keep in touch with all of the team, most of whom aren’t now based at our Kings Cross offices.
What does the next year bring for you and Hawtrey Dene?
We’ve had some new team members join us this year and some live vacancies to help support our 2019 growth. We’ve bedded in our new technology offers and these are rolling out with current clients and positioned ready to go further. We’ve also started work on two new parts of the business that we plan to roll out in February next year; both ideas that have been burning away at me for some time and we’re now in a position to invest in them and build some great new propositions and widen our reach.
How’s Alexis taking to retirement?
After a bout of pretty rough Aspergillosis (a nasty fungal infection) in 2015 and again earlier this year, he’s been treated at the amazing Royal Veterinary College Queen Mary Hospital (www.rvh.org.uk) and he’s now back fighting fit and full of beans. He’s 14 next May and yet he still acts like a puppy (especially with the Metacam joint supplement!) and when he does pop back into the office it’s hard for anyone to focus as he’s quite an attention demanding colleague. We recently moved home to Kent and have a new addition, Maggie, a working Cocker. She keeps Alexis on his toes and the two of them have a really close bond and a great time in the countryside. Maggie is even more of a distraction at the office.
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