30 Years Of Success
The story begins on a Sunday morning during the summer of 1991.
Moving into my Covent Garden office, in the Piazza, with just a desk and a phone, I had the firm belief that, after years working for a London agency, I could go it alone and provide a recruitment service that was second to none.
During the depths of a recession, I started to make calls to potential clients in the hope that they had a vacancy and would trust me enough to give me the opportunity to work with them. They did and Carousel was born, with the company being incorporated on the 6th of November 1991.
The early days were very tough, but I soldiered on with the firm belief that I could make a difference.
As I began to see green shoots in the economy, my thoughts turned to an old colleague, and dear friend, who I had worked with in the past and who had stood by me when we were both made redundant on the same day. I knew her worth and above all, her loyalty and so I asked her if she wanted to join me in my one woman band. I was delighted when she agreed.
In 1992, Lizzie Overall was Carousel’s first employee and she has since been with me every single step of the way.
Although challenging, the early years were full of laughter. Lizzie and I went out on client visits together and won business together. We did everything ourselves without any office support and we watched in awe as the business grew.
In 1995, we put out an advert for likeminded people to join us.
Lea Painter responded and I remember so clearly that she definitely did not want to work on perms, which had been clearly specified in the advert, but she was more than happy to offer us her vast temp management experience. I deliberated, we didn’t do temps. However, I took a leap of faith and, in that moment, Carousel’s temp division was born and is still thriving today under Lea’s guidance.
We scored very highly with the advert as Alyson Emmerson also applied. We were extremely impressed with her and so I told her to take a couple of days to think about working with us, but she refused to deliberate and accepted on the spot. Alyson became a crucial team member when she opened our City office in 2000. After leaving us for a few years, Alyson returned to the fold in 2018 and, having not lost any of her incredible skills as a senior consultant, she is now leading the way with our international recruitment.
1995 was an amazing year in Carousel’s history as that summer Julia Pepperell and Caroline Hinton also joined the team. Caroline was an exceptional recruiter and has been an incredible stalwart for Carousel for many, many years; Julia headed up the Administration and Technology side of the business, which was no easy task as we were still receiving CVs from candidates in the post and sending them to clients by fax machine!
As time moved on so did our technology; we were one of the first companies to buy our domain name well before we had a website or even used computers. Trying to convince the team to embrace PCs and the incredible wonder of email was a feat in itself.
“I don’t think this email thing will catch on”, I remember Lizzie saying to me.
Trying to convince Lea to use the computer and upload all the clients details to the database was a daily challenge. It was a complete culture change for us. Technology has been one of the biggest changes to happen in Carousel’s lifetime and adapting to change is often one of the hardest hurdles in life.
In 2004 we brought the different Carousel branches together, returning to our roots in Covent Garden in lovely large offices; it was a joy to all be together again under one roof.
In 2005, our amazing Marketing Manager, Heidi Brooks, attended an interview with one of our consultants for a role with one of our biggest clients. Whilst chatting to several of our team, Heidi let slip that she was also interested in a career in recruitment – we didn’t hesitate, the job offer was made and Heidi joined us the following week.
As we continued to flourish, one of the team introduced us to Dawn Hamilton; she was highly recommended having delivered exceptional results running large temp accounts for a leading high street agency; we were mightily impressed and so, in 2007, Dawn joined the team.
In 2016, we were looking for someone to take over the temps’ payroll; we welcomed Jen Standing to the family and what a stroke of good fortune it was for Carousel! Not only does Jen manage the temps’ payroll, but she also keeps all the consultants in check, deals with all our HR and compliance issues and keeps us all on the straight and narrow in her role as Operations Manager.
In 2018, our latest addition to the Carousel family came into the fold. Max Armitage joined our National office in Norfolk where he recruits for local and international businesses as well as providing much needed support to the rest of the team.
Everyone who has worked at Carousel over the last 30 years has left their mark and a legacy which is evident today.
Our client portfolio is an amazing testament to the consultants that are, and have been, part of the Carousel story.
Over the decades, each consultant brought their own individuality to the table and connected with some truly wonderful clients.
Many fabulous candidates, who have in turn become clients and then candidates again, have shaped us and guided us and they are also woven into the rich Carousel tapestry.
During these 30 years as a family, we have celebrated Christmas’ and anniversaries, marriages, births and, sadly, even deaths, and we have dug deep during turbulent times to ride the waves of recessions and financial crashes. But I have never been more proud, inspired and thankful for the core team who have driven Carousel through the last 20 months – it has undoubtedly been a difficult period, but it has always been all for one and one for all. Without the team and their individual contributions, I am certain our journey through the pandemic would not have been as supportive, as motivating or as inspiring as it has been.
Looking back over the last 30 years, from when we started as a support staff recruitment consultancy, to where we are today, I am in awe.
If someone had told me in the ‘90s, that I would have my founding team members still with me today, recruiting not only in the UK but internationally for an incredibly diverse client base and a temp desk boasting of temps who have been with us for over 25 years, and who themselves have become ambassadors of Carousel, I would have not believed them.
30 years on, I stand in the extremely privileged position as the head of this incredible company, but it is as a team we shine.
As Aristotle so rightly said,
‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’