Irfan Lohiya of Green Recruitment Solutions tells us about sourcing quality talent within the green industry.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Irfan Lohiya: Thank you for asking. These Covid-19 times have been tough, but thankfully my family and I have been doing fine. If anything, it has been nice to spend the extra time at home with my children.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Green Recruitment Solutions.
Irfan Lohiya: I’m just a regular guy who has a passion for helping people, enjoys solving problems and doing deals. This led me to a successful career within recruitment, commencing in with Robert Walters in 2006 before being invited to join Randstad in 2007. It was here where my career began to accelerate, as I was trained by company ‘top billers’ and nurtured by excellent mentors (with nicknames like ‘Million Dollar Banister,’ ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘The Rainmaker’). Surrounded by such stars, I excelled in my profession, achieving promotions from Trainee to Principal Consultant within a record time. By 2008, I became a recruitment machine. By that time, I began to hear conspiracies about me, e.g., I slept in the office and kept a sleeping bag in my drawer, as I was often the last person in the office and the first person present the next morning. It was this level of commitment that elevated my performance, leading to being selected by the CEO of Randstad UK to be part of a 20-strong ‘hit squad’ for targeting the Middle East. My success in this role caused a few waves, leading to a direct approach by the CEO of Randstad Middle East, who made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Moving to Abu Dhabi was awesome. Life was good, money was great, and the weather was amazing! But still, something was missing. I was missing a ‘purpose’ in life and also missing family. So I returned to the UK in 2009 and took some time out to figure out what I wanted from life. During this period, I would work on renovating my house, leading to several trips to the local landfill to throw away waste. Every time I visited the landfill, I would see others throwing away perfectly good household items that could have easily been donated to a charity, re-used or re-sold. After seeing this so many times, I felt so passionate about Waste Management, Recycling, and Resource Management that it inspired me to join Allen & York in 2010, a leading environmental recruitment firm that I joined to build their Waste division. This is where my passion for protecting the planet hit fever pitch, as I finally found my ‘purpose.’ This led to the creation of Green Recruitment Solutions in 2013 – a global search firm dedicated to green industry sectors such as Waste, Water, Environment, Climate Change, Sustainability, Renewables, Energy Storage and Emerging Clean Technologies.
How does Green Recruitment Solutions innovate?
Irfan Lohiya: Recruitment is a tough industry, with most external recruiters burning out after 3-4 years or moving into an internal position for a less-pressurized career. I have remained at the sharp end for the past 15 years. Either I’m a sucker for punishment, or I’m very good at what I do! My clients will say it’s definitely the latter. Innovation is one of our critical success factors. From reinventing recruitment through to implementing AI, at GRS, we do things very differently. It’s what gives us the edge. As a result of innovating and doing the ‘never been done before,’ GRS possesses the advanced capability to penetrate any target company like a hot knife through butter and carve out top talent through entire teams. We are considered by our clients to be a ‘Recruitment Weapon’ in the fight against Climate Change. With every placement, we’re helping to create a sustainable future for the children of tomorrow. It is their right to inherit a planet they can live in.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Irfan Lohiya: For a while, recruitment was in lockdown. The situation is much better now.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Irfan Lohiya: Sure, I had to tighten the belt, but I managed to get by without making cuts to my team.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Irfan Lohiya: The only real change was that my client meetings became virtual. Personally, I’m delighted, as virtual conferencing is a far more environmentally friendly alternative to driving or flying for meetings in person.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Irfan Lohiya: I let my accountant take care of that.
Your final thoughts?
Irfan Lohiya: Running an independent business is hard. Especially when you’re competing against the biggest brands in the world and trying to get through a pandemic, with home-schooling on top! It can wear you down, test your relationships and affect your mental health. To combat this, the key is to have the right attitude, stay positive, eat healthy, exercise, meditate, practice mindfulness, and help those who are less fortunate. It also helps to keep reminding myself and others to stay strong. It may be stormy now, but it never rains forever. We will get through this.