Meet the MD: Bruce Hydes of Edgar Stewart Selection

Meet the MD: Bruce Hydes of Edgar Stewart Selection

Bruce Hydes brought his business home to Scotland and turned it in to a successful recruitment company. He told BQ about the challenges he has faced along the way and his plans for the future.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

I’m the founding director of Edgar Stewart Selection and specialise in developing and delivering bespoke recruitment solutions for the manufacturing, engineering, electronics, semi-conductors and optoelectronics, life sciences, biotechnology and medical devices, and renewable energy sectors.

As well as heading up a team of six, I’m also the finance director and responsible for overseeing the growth of the business. Day to day, my role is very much about building relationships and making sure we’re compliant in line with our company values.


What is it the company does?

Edgar Stewart Selection is a professional services recruitment consultancy specialising in the sectors mentioned above and working with a number of clients on a long-term basis, helping them to attract and retain the best talent the world has to offer.

Although we’re based in Edinburgh, we deliver bespoke search and selection on a global scale, as well as throughout the UK. We’re acutely aware that recruitment gets a bad reputation – and often for good reason – so we’re keen to buck that trend by investing in people and the right solutions and technology to offer the best possible service.

Our company places people at its heart and is passionate about initiatives such as the National Living Wage and the Scottish Business Pledge. We want to do the right thing and are also keen to invest in the next generation of recruitment leaders and innovators. That’s why we moved from our city centre location to transform a more urban conversion in Stockbridge into what is now our business incubator.  Since the move, we have invested nearly £120k in niche Scottish recruitment start-ups and launched three very different spin outs specialising in high growth start-ups and SMEs, food and drink, and water and energy. Edgar Stewart works exclusively with clients which include Michelin, WL Gore, Cascade Technologies, Emerson Process Management, Edinburgh Instruments Pufferfish, SPTS, and DP Services.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I’ve been working in the recruitment industry for a long time. Most recently, I headed up the Manufacturing and Technology and Energy divisions at Eden Scott but was keen to run my own business.

Edgar Stewart was initially a spin out from a Welsh recruitment business called Smart Solutions Recruitment, which helped to inject £50k to get it off the ground. I then self-funded the business after completing a management buyout in 2012.  I brought the business home to Scotland, where I was born and raised, and the rest, as they say, is history.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Our ethos at Edgar Stewart is to challenge, inspire and innovate – and I think those three things probably form the basics of a good leader.  However, when running a small business, leading from the front and actually doing the job is crucial. It’s essential to be hands-on. 


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Making a very poor decision on who to make my business partner early in Edgar Stewart’s history. I realised very early on, having sold half my business to a friend and acquaintance, that while we could get on outside of work, our work styles, business aspirations and compatibility were not conducive to a successful working relationship. Not only could this have derailed the business, but I was at risk of losing sight of what was happening day to day. Eventually, these things cause stress at home too. It’s not cheap either when you’re forced to buy back your equity. It was a difficult, but valuable, learning experience and, as people say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I love spending time with my family, including my two kids. I also unwind with a game of golf, or by watching football, and going to the gym.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Jerry McGuire! AKA Sports Agent


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I used to be a stickler for time keeping, but I’ve learned that some people work better when they’re given flexibility around time and control. I’ve learned to let go a bit. I have also learned later in life that systems and processes do work and are necessary – even in a small business. That’s why I’m making a real effort to actually use and interrogate our CRM (Client Relationship Management) system. LEAN is the next step!


Where do you see the company in five years time?

My ambitions for the firm are to build a small group of nichemarket-focused recruitment businesses as part of the Edgar Stewart family and offer spin-out opportunities to other entrepreneurs or in-house staff. I’d also like to get an ‘exit’ in some way, shape or form within the next 10 years and retire happily. But not before I’ve helped to break the mould of stuffy, old fashioned recruitment businesses by making Edgar Stewart slick and a bit different!


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Be careful who you select as a business partner. It’s like marriage and can work for and against you.  Find good people outside of your world that can offer advice.  On a more positive note, I think you have to have strong self-belief and look for the small wins every week.  Also in my experience it is better to stick to what you are good at and not try and get too big too soon.