This week on FEW Members' Corner, we would like to introduce you to Kimberly Arth & Lauren Lin, Co-Founders of PIVOT a niche-recruitment firm established in 2016 to connect high caliber professional women with dynamic companies in Hong Kong.
Hi Kimberly and Lauren, we would love to learn more about your entrepreneurial journey
We launched PIVOT to connect women with job opportunities. After continually meeting successful women who left their careers due to lack of flexibility, etc., we felt there should be a way to connect this untapped talent pool with companies that would value their experience and expertise -- and that was the beginning of PIVOT. Since then, our scope has broadened – we now provide workshops, career advice to candidates, promote diversity and consult on talent retention with top companies. However, our goal has always been the same - to act as a conduit to connect high caliber women with companies - whether on a part-time, flexible or full-time basis. Both Lauren and I were in different industries before launching PIVOT. I was previously in Real Estate Finance at Goldman Sachs and Lazard and Lauren was in PR and Marketing for Wynn and Playstudios. We both were involved in building out teams and making hires in our prior roles so moving into recruitment was a natural shift for both of us.
What inspired you to start your company?
When we moved to Hong Kong, we both quit our jobs to facilitate the move out here for our families. When we arrived we both had 2 children. Now we have 3 each! While our expectation was to continue on our corporate career paths we both needed something with more flexibility to it. Through our own searches we realized two major issues - 1. there are far fewer large corporates that offer flexibility in Hong Kong and 2. as a result many talented women with a ton of career experience had opted out of the workforce entirely. Everyday we were meeting lawyers, bankers, brand managers, etc that were not working but wanted to. We felt we had identified an untapped talent base and wanted to find ways to connect them with interesting companies and challenging roles so we launched PIVOT to do just that.
So far, what's the most challenging part of your journey?
Initially, it was challenging to get employers to understand the value of the talent base we represented, so there was an education element to what we were doing at first. That part of the process was definitely discouraging at the outset, but the environment in Hong Kong has shifted immensely in the past two years so we have many more encouraging conversations day to day. We are finding that more and more companies are recognising that they need to take action in order to retain and attract female talent, and they are now coming to us to help solve that problem.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
On growing teams
As a small business, it is really important to identify the roles that are crucial to the business. This will provide the most leverage to the team, since budget is always a factor. As a lean team, we have worked with contractors for projects or initiatives that were time sensitive or needed a certain level of expertise. That has been really helpful in terms of scaling the business in a cost-efficient manner.
On running a business
You have to be willing to wear every hat imaginable! No day is ever the same. You learn so much on the fly and a lot of it is trial and error. At the outset of our business we were very focused on planning everything and had set expectations of how we thought it would all play out. Now we are totally adaptable and unafraid to "PIVOT" as necessary. If something is not working you have to be able to make a change and move on, which isn't always easy to do.
On building credibility and trust
It's really about understanding the objectives of your audience. We take a lot of time to understand what our clients are looking for. Hiring can be a very time intensive and stressful process for businesses, so we try to make sure we really understand what our clients need in a candidate and how that person fits into their broader team. Conversely we really take time to understand our candidate base. It can be a time intensive process but the upfront work has really helped us to establish credibility with both candidates and clients which is imperative to the success of our business.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Financials: having your own business can be very stressful on a lot of different levels so understanding your own financial situation and the expected capital needs of the company is crucial before starting out.
Attitude: There are a lot of highs and lows in entrepreneurship. Some days will be great and other days will be hard and you will ask yourself why you are doing it. That comes with the territory, but you have to be able to rise above it and not get derailed by those challenging days.
Mentor / Network: Establishing a network that can act as a support system for career advice and candid feedback is so important especially if you are a sole founder. Developing a core network can be crucial in finding key connections to help elevate your business and also in getting advice when you need it most.
What is your personal success? What is company success?
I think for both of us, personal success is really having the ability to do it all and to be happy while doing it! The premise of our business is built on helping women find careers with flexibility, which is what we have always wanted for ourselves- to be challenged and have balance. Company success has a more quantifiable aspect to it through the bottom line. But mainly we would like to see more companies come to us to find female talent and understand that the candidates we represent have exceptional professional backgrounds.