Friday 15 March 2013


In this 2Inspire profile we interview Debra Amini, founder of the UK's leading creative recruitment agency, Profiles Creative.

1/ Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
– There really is no typical business day. There is always structure within a week so there are set times for individual meetings, team meetings, and company meetings. Apart from that though, running a specialist recruitment agency means motivating teams to achieve, looking at the detail of what we do to make a bigger impact strategically with our clients and candidates, and even fighting fires from time to time! We often say “the life of a recruiter is champagne and razor blades” and this is certainly true of a given week and sometimes even a given day here.

2/ What made you start the business and how did you get started?
– I was working for a global, specialist agency that wasn’t able to answer the local needs of the London market at that time due to every office having to offer the same service. That’s corporate thinking! I wanted to offer recruitment across the full creative spectrum - graphic design, marketing, and PR – and no other agency was offering this at the time in the UK. Now of course quite a few are so I must have been onto a winner! We started with myself and a colleague in a small cottage in Twickenham with a cat named Gladys by our side. We then moved to the creative hub of London, Clerkenwell, into a lovely open plan office where we could expand and all share our ideas whilst working together to build our recruitment agency together. And we’re still here!

3/ What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date? – Building a diversified business. We are diversified in many areas – from the types of employees we hire, to the many divisions we have built under the one umbrella of creative, to having multiple revenue streams of business. This helped us grow quickly and also whether the storm of the past recession. Diversification is key in today’s competitive landscape.

4/ What has been your biggest challenge in business so far? – Within a specialist recruitment agency, company culture is key. Finding and nurturing the right mix of talent has by far been the most challenge aspect of growing our agency. It took us years to get it right.

We now have a diversified culture - some consultants who are ex-industry, some from generalist recruitment backgrounds, and many from specialist competitors – but the one thing they all have in common is they have developed the mixed skillset we need – they know the industry, they are inquisitive and ask the right questions, they are great listeners, and they are consultative in their approach to clients and candidates equally.

5/What are your future plans for the business? – To expand even further into the digital and ecommerce space. We’ve been in this space strongly for the last 5 years and with recruitment partners in the USA and Asia we can see that digital and ecommerce is growing year on year and still has loads of growth ahead of us in the UK market and in key international markets. Our core specialisms of recruitment across design, marketing and PR are now heavily online requirements and we will continue to spread our wings digitally.

6/If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? – I would start with defining what I wanted company culture to be. What does it look like, how does it breath, what dynamics do I want in the office, and what mix of individuals will give us this.

7/ Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams? A diversified work environment is vital to a company’s success with female and male minds coming together to create, drive, and deliver at work. Inspiring women at a young age to follow their dreams is so important for a long-term diversified workforce. The earlier women are inspired to follow their dreams, the more likelihood they have of realising their options as they age - having a family should they want it and a fulfilling career that gives them a well-rounded life with independence.

8/ What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
– The world is becoming smaller, everyone has less time, and many of us have the same online tools to deliver in recruitment. Therefore you must offer a specialism that answers directly to a specific target audience. Generalist in today’s age does not work, in almost everything. Specialist is where its’ at.

9/What or who inspires you in business and why? – People I meet in business who are direct, driven, inquisitive, and thinking of new ideas and ways to make things happen inspire me. My pet peeve are those I consider “blockers” to progression.

10/What is your favourite inspirational quote? - Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations. – Steve Jobs 

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Twitter - @profilescreativ
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