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Truly global and proudly local. We've been serving the US for over 30 years, expanding offices across New York, California and Austin.

Get in touch

How recruitment took me from London to New York

Since joining Robert Walters’ London office in 2014, James Flavin has had a dynamic career, with experience across a number of roles. Driven by process improvement and innovation, James’ ambition has taken him to New York, where he is a relationship manager for one of the world's leading financial service providers.

We spoke to James about his transatlantic career journey, the crucial skills he has developed over the years, and why a trip to Kenya with international charity Global Angels turned out to be one of the most powerful experiences of his life.  

Tell us about your current role.

I’m one of the relationship managers at a leading European investment bank for the United States. My role primarily covers technology, but I also manage human resources and the transformation space. It’s an exciting role. Technology is a real focus point for the bank, so I’ve had the opportunity to develop their strategy and support the growth of their recruitment across the US. I have team members in multiple locations, including New York, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida.  

How would you describe your career journey?

I joined Robert Walters’ London office in May 2014. I started as a hybrid recruiter, before moving into a pure direct recruiter role. In 2019, the opportunity came up for a role based in New York. I put myself forward and within a few months, I was relocating there! It happened really quickly. Initially, I was a resourcing partner for Operations and Change, but I soon moved into technology recruitment for an English investment bank. This was during a period of rapid growth for the bank, so the role involved a lot of stakeholder engagement and strategy.   

Eventually, I started to think about my career progression. I applied for a new opportunity at one of the world's leading financial service providers and became lead recruitment partner, overseeing recruitment in New York for all infrastructure businesses. Recently, we reshuffled our models to look at business areas from a national perspective. As a result, I now own and run technology nationally, overseeing human resources and transformation.  

What I really enjoy now is process improvement, continually asking, “How can we optimise this?”. The Covid-19 pandemic presented many challenges – but it also provided many opportunities. We had little choice but to look at recruitment in a different way. I’ve also benefitted from having senior leaders who allow me the freedom to explore new and creative ways of doing things.  

What new skills have you learned throughout your time at Robert Walters?

As I’ve matured on a personal level, I’ve also been able to mature professionally. I’ve always been driven, but over the years, I’ve been receiving coaching and training that has enabled me to see projects from different perspectives – whether that’s from the point of view of an individual, a team, or an entire country. The ability to scale has been a real focus point in terms of my development. For example, when we implement a process improvement in the US, we always have conversations around how the same solution could be suitable for our counterparts in the UK or in APAC.  

There are so many fantastic leaders at Robert Walters – that’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed with the business all these years. There’s always someone I can learn from around me, whether that’s an expert in their field, such as diversity or governance, or a more established leader whose footsteps I would like to follow in. Our workplace has an open-door policy, which enables me to gain valuable insights from leadership. If I want to put time in with them to have a conversation, learn from them and discuss challenges, I feel able to do so, which I really appreciate.  

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

I’m proud of myself for driving diversity and technology for my client. When I took over our technology division, we were sitting at 23% gender-diverse hires in 2020. My task was to improve that. We finished the year with 27% gender diversity in 2021. This year, we’re currently trending at 34% gender diversity. This is the result of several initiatives we put in place to create more opportunities for minority candidates. 

Achieving this is a team effort. While I’m proud I was able to mobilise the team, I’m even more proud of the people and partners that I worked with who helped me achieve things – from diversity talent strategists to direct recruiters. Together, we all moved the needle on this and made an impact. It’s been a big talking point for the client and I’m proud of that.  

Additionally, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a couple of incentive trips. One year, I processed more offers as a recruitment partner than anyone else in the US for a British investment bank. That was a big achievement. I was nominated to go on an incentive trip to Las Vegas. It was a phenomenal experience that included a variety of Vegas shows and helicopter rides across the Grand Canyon. A year later, I was again nominated for an incentive trip, this time in Cambodia, which was also amazing.  

What qualities do you think are most important in a relationship manager?

When it comes to management roles, emotional intelligence is a quality that I feel isn’t discussed enough. We’re told to drive activity and performance, and do things to scale. But at the end of the day, we’re working with human beings, each with different needs and motivations.  

As a manager, my job is to build effective relationships with the team and understand their career goals so I can help set them up for success. I’m always proud when a member of my team moves up to the next level, even if that means leaving my team. After all, understanding people is fundamentally our business – and that applies to both our clients and our colleagues.  

Have you taken part in Robert Walters’ charity initiatives?

I travelled to Kenya to volunteer with Global Angels, which was one of the most powerful experiences in my life. I had the chance to go with colleagues from London, France, and the Philippines, while I represented the US. 

Global Angels is very unique charity in that you can understand what your contribution means in real time. We learned that £50 could feed a child breakfast and lunch for a year – and that money doesn’t go towards advertising fees or marketing. It goes to that specific person. In addition, we met some very inspirational women who raised their family and started their own businesses with the support of Global Angels in terms of loans and logistics. It’s great to know that your money will be used in a way that actually impacts real people. 

I came away from that trip with a responsibility to do more good in the world. Early in my career, I was more focused on financial reward. I’m still ambitious but now I’m committed to making sure my work is meaningful, and working for a company like Robert Walters that gives me the opportunity to do that is just fantastic. 

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