Spotlight on Paul Nolan: our MD and industry expert with over 26 years’ experience in the recruitment and engineering space

Spotlight on Paul Nolan: our MD and industry expert with over 26 years’ experience in the recruitment and engineering space
Dillan Mistry

Spotlight on Paul Nolan: our MD and industry expert with over 26 years’ experience in the recruitment and engineering space

There’s no better way to launch our Spotlight series than with our Managing Director Paul Nolan, bringing over 26 years of experience within the recruitment and engineering space.

There’s no better way to launch our Spotlight series than with our Managing Director Paul Nolan, bringing over 26 years of experience within the recruitment and engineering space. It was a pleasure to be able to have this chat with Paul and learn more about the two sectors. So, we headed straight in…

What are your thoughts on the evolution of the recruitment industry?

I have been in the recruitment industry now for 26 years and during that time, the industry and sector has changed massively. I think it's fair to say that when I started it was a little bit like the Wild West, it wasn't regulated in any way.

Temporary workers didn't have anywhere near the same rights as they do now, so if I think about some of the fundamental changes over that period, national minimum wage was one of them, and the AWR requirements in terms of ensuring that temporary workers are paid the same as their full-time equivalents. We’ve also had the introduction of pension for temporary workers and the whole recruitment industry has become a lot more regulated and really serves now as a vital part of the economy in terms of how I see it moving forwards.

Early technology has played a massive part in a way that the recruitment industry has changed, and I think that will continue to play a part in terms of automating some of our interactions with both our candidate base and our client base.

Where do you see the future of engineering going?

Engineering principally is the art of solving a problem. And engineering specifically has got a huge task ahead of it in combating what is probably the biggest worldwide crisis, which is climate change and that's broadly a result of the massive amount of CO2 that we pump into the atmosphere.

I think the airline industry will be a part of some of the big projects that will be worked on from an engineering basis and reducing the amount of fossil fuels that airlines use.

Clearly, the production of electricity through power stations is another one. We're seeing a massive evolution within the UK in terms of moving towards renewable energy.

So, I think in 2022 (if the statistics prove me right), there are a couple of days where we got up to well over 50% of our power being produced by renewable energy across the UK but that's clearly not the case on a global scale.

I also think that there will be a lot of engineering focus across the globe in terms of reengineering the way that countries produce power. I think transport, infrastructure and housing stock are all big engineering problems that people need to find solutions from for how we move around, how we live, how we insulate our houses, how we provide effective low emission transport both for public and obviously for the haulage industry itself, which still relies on big diesel engines chunking stuff up and down the motorways.

Overall, the problem is climate change and underneath that there are a number of siloed engineering projects that will need to be undertaken to support the global aim.

Would you say engineering is one of the fastest growing sectors right now?

It is, probably for that very reason. Engineering has transformed itself as 50 years ago it was a dirty business - tools, factories and oil.

Now obviously most of the engineering takes place behind a desk in terms of a laptop and a very cheap piece of software. And so, I think it's becoming more attractive for school leavers, and we have to continue to drive new talent into the engineering sector.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the recruitment industry?

My advice for somebody starting in the recruitment industry is firstly to be to be patient, recruitment is a craft, and it takes some time to develop that craft.

However, it is still one of the few industry sectors in the country that you can enter with no formal qualification and potentially over time, if you learn your craft well, earn as much as a doctor or lawyer.

It’s unique in that sector, so patience and listening is key. I was taught at a very early part of my recruitment career to listen twice as much as you speak. I think that's still serves anybody well entering the industry and doing the little things consistently and doing them well. That would be my main advice.

What about somebody that's looking to start a career in engineering?

I would say for someone looking at a career in engineering, you need to have a passion for something, and you need to have a passion for a problem.

Generally, whether that problem is transporting somebody from their home to an office or transporting somebody from Heathrow to New York, or changing the way we develop power, the engineering industry is vast and being clear on where your passion lies is key.

Developing solutions to problems within that sector I think is really, really important.

Moving into the more fun part, have you got a funny or interesting story that's happened in your career so far?

Gosh, fairly early on in my management career I picked up a contract with a logistics company in South Wales. In the first weekend, there was a bit of a spotlight on service and we wanted to ensure we had the right amount of staff but were also able to convey to future staff exactly what the job requirements were, working conditions etc.

I actually volunteered to do a night shift at the weekend in the warehouse. And just so I could convey to the teams exactly what was going on, I was absolutely hopeless. I had to be taken aside because I dropped the whole palette load of stuff.

It gets worse - I then went on my break and got caught smoking in the wrong place and got asked to exit the site.

I never actually told them that I was the manager of the recruitment agency that was supplying the service to them.

Have you got any amusing things that you have heard or seen in the external market?

Probably an amusing thing that happens more often than you think is that I get recruitment consultants contacting me, thinking that our business is a construction or engineering business and offering me candidates.

And the first thing I always do is reply to them and say, as I would tell any of my own consultants, it's worth doing a bit of research on the company that you're targeting before you send that email because it makes you look really silly if you don't.

I had one just last week offering me the construction professional that we had on our database.

Are there any iconic things that we have been involved in as a brand and business?

Over a period, I would say many.

I think about the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff when that was that was built, we had a huge team of guys on that in preparation for the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Cardiff.

We support some of the largest brands from an airline perspective in the UK. Virgin and British Airways in particular, and we've been involved in the HS2 project in terms of supplying engineers and the design phase of that.

We've also done underground stations, roads, schools, shopping centres, you name it, we've been involved in it.

One of the quite exciting projects that we have been involved in recently is for an organisation that's manufacturing component parts to reduce our reliance on microchips from China. The car industry in particular is being slowed up significantly over the last couple of years in terms of ability to get these particular parts. There's a big project going on in terms of building Europe's capability to build their own, and we’ve placed over 300 permanent staff with that organisation over the last couple of years.

It was an insightful conversation to have with Carbon60’s MD Paul Nolan, with some great stories and advice. But not only that, in a few more years Carbon60 will be celebrating an amazing half a century!

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