All To Play For
John Cassidy

All To Play For

The half time team talk is the stuff of sporting legends.  We are all familiar with the scenario, where a team or individual that is teetering on the edge of self-destruction or humiliation from a smug rival but a few, well chosen words save the day.  Think Billy Bob Thornton, “it’s not about being perfect” and “can you live in that moment” (Friday Night Lights) or Al Pacino, “one inch at a time” and “now, what are you gonna do?” (Any Given Sunday).

In real life it’s usually a lot messier.  My own team Liverpool FC were 3-0 down to AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final at half-time and came back to be  3-3 at full time, then win on penalties.  But the story of half-time ranges from those saying captain and Liverpool legend Steve Gerrard made an emotional, personal appeal to the players and those who claim manager Rafa Benitez calmly changed the formation of the team in the face of injuries.

Having just delivered the most successful half-year ever at TALTRAN Global we want the second half to be about making more progress – whether it’s one inch at a time or in leaps and bounds.  We’ve already celebrated as a team and it was good to be able to thank colleagues for their professionalism, commitment and support.  So my half-time talk is partly about reflection but largely based on the notion that, as someone once told me, all that matters is what you do next.

Expect the Unexpected But Recognize The Fundamentals

In reviewing the half year, I took a look back at my December 2021 predictions and hopes for the year ahead.  Had anyone told us that US inflation would have hit 9.1% within 6 months and interest rates would have been hiked 0.75% in each of two consecutive months we might have laughed.  Possibly more predictable was that Elon Musk’s public musings would lead him to a court battle of some sort.

Fortunately, my prediction about the need for finance professionals was spot on and particularly the focus on them being able to “use systems to help develop insights”.  A recent Gartner report suggesting CFO’s need to become “chief insights officer” was a timely reminder that machine learning, artificial intelligence and business partnering are critical skills for ambitious candidates.  More surprising is the continuing evidence that even the most routine and automatable of finance operations continue to be error prone and manual.

This means that the demand for top talent continues unabated which, in turn, means that the challenges of finding the right person for the job requires ingenuity, skill, focus and plenty of stamina.  Fortunately, our success rate means that we are counting our third year in a row of recruiting for some clients and we have a whole roster of new businesses to engage with.  Part of the enjoyment of the business is working across industries as diverse as metal fabrication, cybersecurity, entertainment and asset management.

Insights And Communication To Add Value

We always aim to add value to both clients and candidates but we have always felt that this needs to be in the context of a sense of community and societal awareness.  Our regular posts on LinkedIn began as an early attempt to provide curated, relevant content to a wider audience.  We try to tackle current recruitment/retention issues such as hybrid working, specialist finance material and the occasional story that just made us smile or want to give recognition to humanity’s many achievements.

The monthly Thoughts for a Thursday is intended to take a deeper look into some of these issues and we’ve covered issues as diverse as recruiting in a crisis, generational clashes in the workplace and the role of technology in recruitment.  They all provide points of reference and further links to our research so that readers get the opportunity to read more if that’s what they want to do.  We don’t claim to be expert in everything but we do look hard at finding ways to improve our depth and breadth of knowledge in areas that will help those we work with.

Our personal and organisational development is a constant process and one of the areas we have given particular attention to in recent months is diversity.  It is extraordinarily difficult to find any sector at all where the make-up of senior management is even close to reflecting the broader range of society.  As professional recruiters we are committed to finding talent wherever it exists and we are increasingly engaging with progressive companies who are keenly aware of the benefits of increasing diversity.

Moving On and Building Up

Having beaten our ambitious half-year business plan targets we’re now looking forward to growing the team and having a strong second half.  This reminds me that in the December blog I talked about Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool in the English Premier League, and how his example is inspirational.  Right now, the season has just started and having won the Community Shield (a traditional curtain raiser) we stared defeat in the face during the first game of the league season before coming back for a 2-2 draw.

It comes to mind because the goal scorers from Liverpool were a new recruit from Uruguay and an player born in Egypt.  Including substitutes who played, the team comprised fifteen people from nine different nationalities.  Bringing that group together and giving them a common vision, mission and specific goals (sic) is a manager who has to talent spot, recruit and create an environment where they can thrive.

TALTRAN remains a small team but Klopp’s example and our own research on diversity makes me keen to ensure that we continue to be bold and inclusive in our own recruitment strategies.  We have already seen that recruiting good quality people to our own business and ensuring they perform well makes them attractive for competitors.  But I consider poaching of my team to be a very high-class problem to have, because competitors are recognizing that we are doing a brilliant job for the businesses and individuals we work with.

Keeping Score And Consistency

Having beaten our business plan for the first six months we are keen to make sure that the year ends well.  We’re on target to work with a wider range and a greater number of clients than ever before and the number of very senior roles we are picking up is a validation of our methodology and reputation for delivery.  As the old saying in sport goes – you’re only as good as your next game and we never forget Klopp’s mantra that “Eight times 1-0 is more important than one times 8-0”.

I’d like to think that we will be helped by the Fed achieving a soft landing for the economy, inflation under control and interest rates ratcheted back to a point where business investment is creating jobs and financial returns.  But, I also know that if there is a period of retrenchment or low growth then finance professionals will be needed to make failing organizations sustainable and to help stalled companies become leaner, more insightful and able to find new paths to growth.  It’s all to play for and our role at TALTRAN will be to bring the talent that can get the job done.


For those wondering about the featured image – at one time it was common for players to have oranges to eat at half-time.  This has long been overtaken by the advice of sports scientists on ways to rehydrate and maintain energy levels.