‘I love coming here because you can do business at any hour of the day’
Ready for a dose of Northern charm? Meet Paul Manivannan, the founder of R3People and a Home Grown Club member hailing all the way from Manchester. When he’s not busy revolutionizing the talent acquisition industry, he can be found flashing his trademark contagious smile and making new friends at the club. In our latest member spotlight, we dive into Paul’s thoughts on talent solutions, the power of networking, and how Home Grown should be the London go-to spot for Mancunian entrepreneurs. Read on to discover what makes Paul a true Home Grown gem.
We start from the beginnings of Paul’s success story and ask him what sparked the entrepreneurial spirit.
‘My dad is no doubt a driving force. He came to the UK from Sri Lanka in the 70s/80s and passed away a couple of years ago. Most time that my dad was alive, he was trying to set up businesses, from mobile phones to trade missions, anything you can imagine. Most of them failed, but he dusted himself back up and started again. Without wanting to be controversial, I recently read about the number of immigrant entrepreneurs. I’m not suggesting that you must be an immigrant to be a CEO, but I believe that if you are prepared to do more, to move to a new place with lots of challenges, that is an indicator of your resilience and ability to do so’, says Paul.
Role models are clearly a must for self-improvement and Paul’s dad has clearly provided an excellent template for success – Paul’s business, R3People, is an innovative tech talent solution operating globally, including in China and North America, which consistently exceeds expectations.
But we want to let Paul say in his own words what exactly makes R3 People different from other providers.
‘It traces itself back to me, the founder. I previously had a language business which employed around 10.000 bilingual contractors providing services across the UK and had a massive success thanks to our acquisition model, based on cultural fit. I wanted to keep doing that within a talent acquisition setting. I didn’t want it to have the stereotypical recruitment’s cold facelessness. We wanted to bridge that internal-external division by acquiring resourcers hungry to fill roles for clients, but also focused on cultural alignment and on getting the right fit for our costumers’, Paul explains.
But how exactly is that done?
‘In the initial stage of consultancy we build up the hiring strategy of a company, and then look at developing a hires roadmap. We look to deliver those over a period of time and spar payments across to help with cash flow. What we aim to is essentially become an extension of the business. That’s the difference between us and other talent solution providers: the collaborative piece and ongoing support’, Paul concludes.
His reference to cultural alignment has pricked up our ears and we ask him how he gauges whether someone’s a good fit for a business.
‘Within traditional talent acquisition there is very little relationship between the client and the acquisition company. It’s a transactional relationship whereby you find the right person, we’ll pay you X, and if you don’t, we won’t, which offers no benefit for the resourcer to really understand the culture of that company. On the other hand, an internal resourcer works on behalf of the business, so that cultural alignment is really important’, says Paul. So far so good.
‘It sounds quite scientific, but it’s not really’, continues Paul. ‘It’s about listening, about appreciating nuances, visiting the premises if there are any, understanding that maybe this team goes to the pub on a Friday night, whereas this other team doesn’t socialise at all. This is something which an internal resourcer would understand. The downside to internal resourcing is that there is no equal incentive to hit those targets, but in terms of cultural alignment it’s absolutely essential. The main issue with talent acquisition is retention of staff, which, again, comes down to culture in the business. If the acquisition company is acquiring the right people, the money pales into insignificance.’
R3People clearly acquires right, considering they fill 100% of positions.
But good outcomes never come without challenges, and so we ask Paul what those have been for him.
‘One of the biggest challenges I found is the lack of formal training. I was a police officer for 11 years and everybody had been trained to do the tasks they were given quickly and efficiently. The thing that I found the hardest within talent acquisition is the lack of formal training. There is a lot of good training providers out there, but there’s a lack of consistency, so everybody that you hire does things slightly differently, which makes it difficult to provide that consistency of service. So, we try to employ people internally who have no talent acquisition experience and train them ourselves,’ says Paul.
And what about some of Paul’s achievements?
‘My current business, R3 People, has had lots of successes, but what really stuck out is how we supported the UK in its efforts to fight Covid: we employed over 700 people out of work in call centres around the UK to provide the track and trace service, and that was a huge effort at the time to get those people into work, I felt immensely proud’, says Paul.
As someone so used to connecting people with people, we ask Paul how important he thinks networking is.
‘Networking has never been more important. We used to network all the time and to enjoy each other’s company. One day, the internet came along, people started communicating via email, and at first that worked, but it’s almost gone full circle now. After two years of covid, people have realised that those human connections now probably mean more than ever before and people rely on personal referrals now more than ever. To be clear, we’re not going to move away from digital. Digital is here to stay, but I still think that it’s digital’s ability to connect people and then get back together that really matters,’ says Paul.
Now that we mention networking, it’s only natural that we should ask Paul about his time at Home Grown, where networking is on the agenda every single day.
‘I found out about HG through a recommendation from a good friend of mine, Jaimie Hitchcock. I love the vibe here. Everyone’s so nice and warm and gives off the impression that they genuinely care about the place. The standard of service is incredible. The rooms are really comfortable, breakfast is excellent. Everything is easy. I don’t know how you guys do it: you can email this place at 3am and they’ll email you back. Events are great value, the speakers are great sources of valuable information. It’s a brilliant place and I look forward to spending more time here’, says Paul.
But what does Paul think that Manchester entrepreneurs, investors and founders will be looking for in a club, and why would they be coming to London?
‘In London, people work in the city, eat in the city, socialise in the city. I don’t think that Manchester quite has the same after-work culture. I love coming here because you can do business at any hour of the day – you can literally come here at 7 in the morning and you’ll find people working in the study café’, says Paul.
Our interview has now come to an end, but we cannot leave Paul without first asking him about a quote he lives by.
‘It’s one that my dad used to say: “Tomorrow never comes”. It’s a poignant message for how you do things, how you make decisions, and even how you relate yourself to people. Now that I think about it, that’s why London suits me better: it is the city never sleeps. This place is relentless, and I think we need a bit more of that in the North.’
As Paul says, London never sleeps and neither does Home Grown. We can’t wait for ever more Mancunians to tap into our bottomless well of possibilities.
If you’re interested in enriching your entrepreneurial experience and finding a strong community of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders then contact our membership team at Home Grown.