Dunedin-based Crew Consulting is taking on the recruitment field. Co-founder Tom Sweeney explains what the business is doing differently from its competitors.

A brief description of the business
Crew Consulting is a recruitment agency that specialise in placing people within IT and the digital sector. We work with businesses from start-ups to large corporates, from Invercargill to Auckland, and a couple in Australia.

What inspired you to start this type of business?

My business partner, Corey Richards, and I worked together in Australia 10 years ago and became good friends. Having worked for large corporate recruitment agencies and small to medium recruitment agencies we saw the things they did very, very well, but wanted to do things our own way.


How big is the team and how long have you been operating?

Currently we are two, just Corey Richards and I. We launched in August 2015 - 18 months ago.

What made you want to get into the recruitment market?

We see recruitment as a simple process and really set out to do things our own way.

Rather than following company lines or how someone else does it, we wanted to work for ourselves and be able to get our own message across. I lived and worked in Sydney for 10 years in IT Recruitment before moving to Dunedin.

I'm originally from Cambridge in England, but worked in Germany for a few years before moving to Australia in 2005 - that's where it all started.

I came to New Zealand for a friend's wedding in 2008, and kept coming back ever since - I fell in love with the South Island.

Why did you decide to start the business in Dunedin?


Dunedin has a lot going for it - it's easy accessible, has cheap rent, brilliant office space, super-fast internet and a very supportive business community - everything you could want.

The main reason though was Corey Richards was already based here - he's originally from Clyde - and so Dunedin was the closest big city to Clyde when he moved back here from Australia with his wife. And I had a group of friends here.

Crew Consulting co-founder Tom Sweeney.
Crew Consulting co-founder Tom Sweeney.

It was mainly for personal reasons, but on the business side, it's a really good city to start a business in - super-fast internet, a very supportive business community and good rental prices.

What demographic do you work with the most?

It's mainly those in the three-to-five years and above experience category. Our clients always come to us and say 'oh look, we need someone with three to 10 years experience and above'.

We do a lot of work in the business intelligence space, infrastructure and cloud services, applications development; it's pretty specialist.

There's a real shortage in New Zealand, so we've got to come up with different ways of attracting talent. We take talent from overseas quite a bit, too.

Among candidates, what industry or job is most sought after?

Our focus for recruitment is in the technology space. Going through our placements last year there was a varied mix of demand. There is a strong focus on emerging technologies like cloud services, application development and real time analytics. However the demand is still there for your traditional IT staff.

The biggest challenge we are finding is having the right amount of talent in the smaller centres. Emotional Intelligence is key though, technologies can be taught but making sure you have the right personality, morals and values in a person is priority number one for most organisations.

Inside Crew Consulting's Dowling Street office, featuring a foosball table.
Inside Crew Consulting's Dowling Street office, featuring a foosball table.

What are the long term plans for Crew Consulting?

We'd like to grow, but want to make sure we hire the right people. Being a small business, the first hire is going to be very, very important.

We want to make sure we're getting people that have the same ethos around recruitment as we do. We're not just chasing dollars, we're about building relationships, so we want to make sure the customers we have are serviced greatly and the people we hire have the same values as we do.

How does your business approach to recruitment differ from others?

We have consulting in our name. We help candidates with CV and interview prepping, and work with a youth employment programme at the Yes Scheme [Young Enterprise Scheme] in Dunedin which is all about getting youth into the workplace.

It doesn't always go your way, but you've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again because it's your business.

I meet with people regularly that are looking to get into the workplace straight out of university, and talk to them about the best way they can use their CV and who to approach in the market.

We're not just about recruitment - everything we do is about employment and partnering - ultimately we're about growing Dunedin's economy.

What's the best thing about running your own business?

The best thing is really just being in control of everything that we do.

We decide on what we want to do and how we approach the market. We're very social, we've put our own brand together, and we're really proud of it.

Crew Consulting co-founder Corey Richards.
Crew Consulting co-founder Corey Richards.

The best thing is working for yourself, setting your own goals and getting up in the morning knowing everything you do is for you and your family, rather than for someone else. Being a small business owner is motivating in itself.

The highs are higher, but the lows are a lot lower as well.

A lot of recruitment work is for free - we don't get paid until we make a placement. We can go three or four months working through something and sometimes it doesn't always go your way, but you've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again because it's your business.

It's enjoyable in the highs and in the lows as well.

How do you go about attracting talent?

We've got our normal medium of Seek and Linked In, but we've also got social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, our website and then we also have video advertising which is done through an app called Video My Job - that's me talking to a camera about the job - and we put it everywhere.

All of what we do is head-hunting and tapping people on the shoulders and trying to find the right people, networking, meeting people and building relationships with candidates - not just clients.

What advice do you give others thinking about starting up a similar business?

Stick to your values and do things the way you want to do. Don't let money change the way you operate. You're not going to win everything, but just make sure that you feel good about yourself when you finish up for the day.