Barry Simmons is director of Provide Education, a specialist recruitment agency with branches across Yorkshire. He talks about the importance of planning, leading from the front, and why swearing in the office is a no-no…
What is it the company does?
Provide Education is an educational recruitment agency providing supply staff to schools and academies on a short and long term basis.
Our head office is in Barnsley and we have branch offices in Brighouse, Worksop, and Billingham in Teesside. We’ve recently started working with schools and teaching staff in Greater Manchester too.
We aim to provide a two-way service that helps schools to fill positions quickly and safely, and supports teachers and other education sector staff to find jobs in the sector that suit them perfectly.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
I work alongside my business partner Katie Buckle, also a director, to drive the business forward and ensure high standards are maintained. The role involves a multitude of specialisms from business strategy to finance, marketing, HR, target setting and generally planning for growth.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
After graduating in business and PE I spent an extra year doing a PGCE which led me to an early career in primary teaching. After a number of years, I decided to combine my interest in business and knowledge of the school sector to work in education recruitment. I worked for the same company for seven years, which included opening new offices and a regional role before moving into social care recruitment and eventually linking up with Katie to set up our own business ten years ago.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Successful leaders look after their team, and we’ve always encouraged our staff to grow with the company. For example, our branch manager in our head office started with us in 2007 as a trainee and is now an experienced branch manager. More recently, our senior consultant at the North-East office initially joined us as a graduate trainee and rose through the ranks to help us open a new branch. We’ve got really good staff retention levels so hopefully we are doing something right as leaders of the business! We also aim to lead from the front which means imparting our knowledge and experience to all our team members and making everyone feel a real part of the company.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Biggest challenge was having the conviction to continue to overcome all the financial implications of a new start up business and believing in our long-term business plan.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Being extremely organised, good planning and having a fantastic team to lean on.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As an avid sports fan and Manchester City season ticket holder from an early age I always wanting to pull on the blue shirt as a City player – but I’m now more than content watching the top-level football they play!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?
Swearing in the office is a no-no for me. Luckily all our team are very professional and follow this to the letter.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Continuing the year on year growth and extended our coverage to other regions.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Be prepared, believe, work hard and have people you trust by your side.