Celebrating 20 years at Swisslinx: An interview with Director Colin Tivendale

Posting date: 06 March 2020
Swisslinx is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, we’re speaking to some of the people who’ve helped make Swisslinx become the business it is today.

Colin Tivendale started his career working in journalism and event promotion before entering the recruitment industry in 2002, where he’s remained ever since. Working within the recruitment markets of Digital & Technology and Change & Consulting, he’s worked his way up to Director level at Swisslinx and is looking forward to seeing the company continue to grow into the future. Here’s his story:

“I worked in multi-lingual call centres before moving to recruitment”

After moving on from his work in call centres, Colin first gained an insight intro recruitment when he worked at S3 in London on one of their Swiss desks. As an English, French and German speaker, Colin was able to further develop his multi-lingual skills during these early days of his career, before deciding to venture into more of a business development role.

“I wanted to be based in Zurich at a company that placed a high value on the customer experience”

Colin had his sights set on a boutique company where he could make a meaningful impact and commit to a long-term career. Swisslinx fit the bill – he joined in 2002 to specialise in technology, finance and business support, and has since added executive search, program resourcing and consulting to his skillset. His journey has seen him touch on most sales topics, including business development, research and account management across technology, corporate functions, finance and executive search, spanning the regions of Zurich, Geneva, Dubai/Abu Dhabi and London.

“I manage a team of four in a space that is ripe for disruption”

Colin’s team’s focus is primarily developing the business lines of the future for Swisslinx, which he believes to be Consulting/Professional Services and Executive Search for CIO/CDO and CTO functions. These spaces are primed and ready for disruption and Colin says better service levels can be delivered to customers by providing more transparency, a shorter timeline from engagement to hire and a more direct and delivery-focused execution style. 

“There have been so many highlights since I joined the company”

Swisslinx has grown enormously during Colin’s tenure. When he joined the offering was mainly banking, and he’s proud of helping hedge this portfolio by introducing two large key accounts, one in reinsurance and one in industrial, garnering CHF 20-30 million per year spends. He’s also worked on the majority of the firm’s largest fee generating searches and placements.

“I never thought I’d enjoy management as much as I do”

Having seen the company grow from fewer than 10 people in one office to a 50 person company with offices around the globe, Colin says Swisslinx’s development has been significant – but there’s still a long way to go. He’s grateful to have who he believes are some of the most talented people in the local and international markets on his team and says their potential to grow and develop is unlimited.

“If I ever start feeling too comfortable in my chair, I ask for a new project”

Colin remains stimulated in his work thanks to the autonomy he is afforded at Swisslinx. He says he’s been given the freedom to develop business lines and add new elements to existing areas, which has resulted in the introduction of the Commodities and Natural Resources business and the recent focus on Consulting and Professional Services. The former was instrumental in Swisslinx moving away from being a generalist recruitment agency towards the highly specialised boutique model of today. Meanwhile, the Consulting and Professional Services offering provides customers with a sustainable and credible alternative to the established management and tech consulting firms.

“Good recruiters are at their best when they are the broker directly communicating with the client and candidate”

While Colin counts himself lucky to have started in recruitment in the early days of LinkedIn and new technology platforms, he maintains that the personal touch of a recruiter cannot be digitalised. As client needs continue to evolve at pace, Recruiters and Swisslinx as a business must be proactive to keep developing. 

“Here we are given enough freedom to innovate and create, coupled with just the right amount of support to succeed”

In addition to having the autonomy and ability to craft, design and implement business plans, Colin loves working alongside people who are passionate about what they do. From the partners who have been with Swisslinx since day one to the management team and new joiners, he believes the most important elements are in place to continue to exceed expectations. 

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Swisslinx or do business with the company? View our blog to find out more, or click here to meet other members of the team

How is Switzerland's life sciences market responding to COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 is an opportunity for Switzerland's life sciences market to deliver the world the one thing that it’s crying out for right now – a vaccine. Researchers at the University of Bern are working around the clock to become the first to produce a vaccine and have delivered the ambitious goal of immunising 100% of the Swiss population against the virus by October.   Other large biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland are proving determined to find a vaccine, as smaller enterprises rely on the nation to provide economic relief packages which will help them survive the virus. While it’s uncertain what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will be, there are two outcomes of the pandemic that are hard to ignore – innovation and collaboration. Read on to find out how Switzerland’s life sciences market is responding to Covid-19.   Where the action is happening Switzerland has long been known as an innovative nation and the dynamic life sciences sector is what attracts so many key players in the global market to establish headquarters or run operations on its soil. In Basel alone, there are 700 life sciences companies, employing 33,900 employees who produce goods and services valued at a staggering $405 million each hour. Despite Basel being known as Switzerland’s hub of life sciences, it’s companies in the capital city, Zurich, and nearby town, Bern, who are showcasing the most promising developments towards a Covid-19 vaccine.   Swapping Swiss chocolate for antibodies The Swiss biotechnology sector has seen continued growth over the past several decades and just last year 19 biotech companies were established in the country. Though the pandemic may have stopped most of the world in its tracks – causing many people to learn how to be productive when working from home - that’s not the case for biotechnology companies who have instead reallocated their resources in the race to create a vaccination. One Swiss biotech in particular – Memo Therapeutics – are screening healthy participants who have recovered from a strong bout of COVID-10 and repaying them in Swiss chocolate. MEMO is a recognised leader in antibody discovery and is using these proteins which are extracted from recovered patients to develop a vaccine as well as to help create therapies.   A global collaboration The Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator was initiated by the Gates Foundation in an effort to combine the expertise and facilities of life sciences companies around the globe. The CEO of Novartis – a Swiss pharmaceutical giant – has stepped up to co-chair this group of 15 companies to ensure seamless collaboration. The newly-established group recognise that sharing their ‘proprietary libraries of molecular compounds’ will accelerate the progress in identifying a suitable compound meaning that the in vivo trials could be running within two months. This global alliance between life sciences companies may see a vaccination reach the population sooner than imagined and could be the future of faster drug discovery.   Novartis is also dedicating time to understanding the severe life-threatening complications that Covid-19 can present. Their ongoing trial, CAN-COVID, has progressed to Phase III clinical trials and is enrolling participants across Europe with the hopes to develop a therapy which increases the survival rate for those who contract the virus.   A forward-thinking approach According to Swiss Life Sciences' 2020 Trend Analysis, the nation is home to 1,885 life sciences companies, one of them being Neurimmune. This biopharmaceutical company is also working on a Covid-19 therapy and is at the development stage for an antibody-based treatment that will be administered directly to the lungs. This forward-thinking approach to therapeutics could dramatically reduce the damage that coronavirus has on the lungs, therefore improving patient recovery and lowering the mortality rate.   An alternative to a vaccination Global health experts predict that a vaccination won’t be delivered until early 2021 but that has not stopped Swiss biopharmaceutical company Molecular Partners from developing an innovative response to the virus. Rather than formulating a medicine that provides the body with immunisation to Covid-19, they’re working towards creating a class of protein therapeutics known as DARPin which will act as inhibitors that prevent the virus from entering the human cell. This approach would limit the potential of the human population developing resistance to a vaccination and could be an essential treatment to eradicate coronavirus.   A steady recovery In 2019, the combined biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemical industries in Switzerland employed over 50,000 people and contributed to 40% of the nation’s exports. Though the global health emergency initiated an economic downturn in sectors across the world, the displays of innovation and collaboration in recent months ensure that Switzerland’s life sciences market will remain competitive into the future.   Swisslinx is here to help Our team of consultants at Swisslinx are keeping abreast of new developments in the life sciences market meaning that we’re best placed to provide industry advice. Read how Switzerland is responding to Covid-19 and find out what we’re doing to support our clients and candidates. If you’re looking for fresh life sciences talent, Contact us and a member of the Swisslinx team will be in touch to discuss your recruitment needs.

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Using lockdown to your advantage

Home working was already popular in Switzerland in 2019, with 33.7% working from home at least occasionally. This number has of course dramatically increase in 2020, thanks largely to Covid-19. The black swan event was neither expected nor planned for by these employees and their businesses. Thankfully, there’s an abundance of resources which will help you make your lockdown space a productive one. More than two-thirds of office workers say they are more productive when they’re working from home. This ‘new normal’ is the perfect time to focus on where your career is heading, upskilling and even prepare yourself for the next career move. Using this advice, you can be sure that you’re using lockdown to your advantage: Project your career path It’s important to always have sight of which direction you want to steer your career in, yet studies show that people spend more time planning their holidays than they do their career. As our global workforce experiences a sizeable shake-up this is the perfect time to assess where your career is heading. In light of recent changes, new opportunities may have presented themselves or you might have reached a fork in your career path. To make a well-informed decision you must begin by writing down specific goals. For example, becoming the Chief Finance Officer of a multinational company with a gross revenue of £150 million is an extremely clear goal. The more precise that your target is the better it serves you when trying to make career decisions. To improve the effectiveness of your goals write them down - psychology professor, Dr Gail Matthew, shares that we are 42% more likely to achieve them when we do so. Learn a new language There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone an existing one and learning a new language could have more career benefits than you’d think. This is particularly true in multilingual Switzerland, where there are four official languages and regional dialects that can make business communication challenging at times. Take the opportunity to brush up on your German, French or Italian and you may see yourself with improved career prospects at the end of lockdown. An American study found that in just five years the number of job advertisements aimed at attracting bilinguists has more than doubled. Commit just 30 minutes each day and use free apps like DuoLingo to expand your vocabulary or enrol in virtual language courses from the Open University if you’re focused on becoming fluent. This free learning platform also offers courses in business, politics, health and more. Pick up the basics of coding If you’re not a natural linguist but want to learn a language there are several computer programming languages that you can choose from. Many websites, like CodeCademy, provide free tutorials for whichever language of code you want to learn and they help you do more than just add a skill to your CV. These resources strengthen your problem-solving abilities as you begin learning the basics of HTML and CSS, laying a solid foundation for programmes such as Python – which is great for beginners – and JavaScript. Get to grips with technology Understandably, the global recruitment landscape has been largely impacted by the imposed lockdown. Hiring managers can no longer meet candidates in person but must rely on technology to match the right candidate with the right job. Already, 53% of HR professionals reveal that they routinely use video interview and we expect this figure to soar throughout and beyond the lockdown as the recruitment industry notes the benefits of a virtual interview over a traditional interview. Get prepared and ahead of other job seekers by learning how you can make an impression on a video interview. It all starts with having the right technology set up so there any no glitches on the day. Alternatively, now could be the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of Microsoft Excel and pick up some new functionalities. AMT Training are offering a free Excel fundamentals course which will teach you Excel best practice and share top shortcuts to help you maximise your productivity. Alternatively, take a look at online training courses on LinkedIn, Udemy and Coursera, where you can do everything from learning business analytics skills to gaining a master’s degree in computer science. Digital networking We’re amidst the largest disruption to the global workforce but that doesn’t mean to say new job opportunities aren’t on the horizon. Many industries have adopted a business-as-usual stance – particularly Switzerland's pharmaceuticals industry - and others are concentrating on bouncing back from the impact that the outbreak has had on hiring efforts. Now is the time to brush up on your digital networking knowledge. With in-person interviews and large networking events off the cards for some time you need to focus your efforts on your digital presence. Begin by optimising your LinkedIn profile so that you’re visible to recruiters and hiring managers. Remember that networking is not always about gaining connections - use this time to reach out to old contacts. Start the job hunt with Swisslinx The lockdown is no reason to put your personal and career development on hold. You now have the resources and advice to help use this time to your advantage and even ready yourself for the next career move. Begin the search now – browse our latest opportunities in life sciences and financial services.

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