As featured in Recruit International: Gibraltar’s online gaming recruitment opportunities
Angelique Pearson, CEO of SRGEurope, spoke to Becky Wilson about the benefits of being a local player in Gibraltar’s recruitment market and its booming online gaming sector
Pearson originally started her working life as an accountant. After nine years in the field, she realised that maybe accounting was not the long term career for her and met with a recruitment company to discuss her options to make a sideward move. She explained that she was looking for an exciting role where she could make use of her FCMA qualification, and the recruiter suggested joining their company. They felt she’d be well-suited to a career in recruitment as she could work with finance directors who would appreciate her understanding of the terminology and the requirements of working in the role. She joined the company and worked with them for five years; the business grew greatly while she was there, expanding from one office in central Birmingham to 22 offices across the UK. After meeting her husband, they moved to Spain (“We just went for an extended summer break, fell in love with the place and never came back”), where Pearson decided she wanted to continue working in the world of recruitment. She explains, “I couldn’t really find any recruitment companies in Spain or Gibraltar that I wanted to work for, so I decided to set up SRGEurope myself, and that’s where it all started 10 years ago.”
Today, SRGEurope has two main business components. Pearson continues to focus on the financial and accounting sector, placing roles for insurance, banking, and compliance. The business also has a sector focused on online gaming, technology, blockchain and cryptocurrency, which are highly active sectors in Gibraltar and Malta. In addition to a team of three consultants in Gibraltar, the business also has two consultants working in the UK. Discussing the reasons behind her decision to launch a recruitment business in Gibraltar, Pearson shares, “It was close to where I was living and it’s English-speaking with a lot of UK clients. There was a lot of activity around online gaming back in 2007/08 and what I also saw at that point in time was that there were no niche recruiters, who, like myself, were qualified accountants or understood accounting like me. There’s nobody that actually does it or that is a mirror image of what I do in Gibraltar.”
The recruitment market in Gibraltar, Pearson explains, is currently “very buoyant” with growing opportunities in the new blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors. She adds that other sectors, including commercial and banking, are also flourishing, which has only been helped by the launch of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange in 2014. While Malta is experiencing similar levels of activity, in Spain, the market is currently much quieter, apart from Malaga: “Malaga’s focus is tech, on software developers, program managers and companies that white label their products for the online gaming companies on an international basis not just Gibraltar. For us, Spain is a secondary market to Gibraltar and Malta, the economy is still in recovery post crisis.”
Opportunity in local knowledge
There are currently around 35,000 people living in Gibraltar and the recruitment companies operating in the country are small. Pearson says that SRGEurope is the largest recruitment company in terms of the number of consultants working in the business. There are tremendous opportunities for recruiters in Gibraltar with tech, online gaming, and finance experience. The high number of small recruitment companies operating in Gibraltar, in addition to UK-based companies infiltrating the market, means that it can be competitive and is always a challenge. Despite this, Pearson explains that companies from don’t “know Gibraltar”. Explaining the key to success in the country, she stresses, “It’s knowing local companies and local nuances. It’s really important to be in the fabric of Gibraltar.”
Opportunities in the online gaming sector range from customer service roles all the way through to marketing, IT and operations. There is currently a big emphasis on compliance, particularly with the introduction of GDPR. In Gibraltar, Pearson believes that companies have adapted well to the new legislation, revealing, “It’s definitely been embraced in Gibraltar, but everyone’s aware it’s an ongoing process.” With a focus on online gaming and blockchain, SRGEurope is highly focused on the latest advancements in technology. She highlights, “In Gibraltar, there’s always been a need for people with strong technological skillsets that are current, candidates that are at the forefront of this are highly sought after.” Similarly to the UK, Gibraltar suffers with skills shortages; Pearson explains that there is a lack of good developers in the country currently. To find this talent, SRGEurope utilises social media to reach its network and also shares creative blogs on the latest technologies and the current landscape to drive traffic and potential candidates to its website.
One topic that Pearson isn’t at all worried about is Brexit. While there has been a slight impact on people looking to relocate, longer term she thinks the referendum result could have a positive impact for Gibraltar and adds, “I can’t think of any solution around Brexit that would mean the border would close because Gibraltar and Spain, they support each other; I don’t think that will change.” Despite there being an impact on people looking to relocate, she says that Gibraltar remains popular with people looking for an outdoor lifestyle with good weather. The kind of expat experience working in the country provides can also help people to further their careers, whether they decide to return to the UK or stay in Gibraltar longer term.
Retaining key staff
Reflecting on the company culture at SRGEurope, Pearson reveals that it is meritocratic, with an open structure. She encourages communication and working as a team, highlighting that many of her staff have been working in the recruitment industry for a long time. When asked what she thinks the key is to running a successful business, she says, “I think it’s about giving people autonomy. At SRGEurope, my employees run their own desk, so it’s like running their own business.” She is committed to her staff, and works hard to retain them. One member of staff had to relocate back to the UK and has since set up an operation for SRGEurope in Edinburgh and she has another working in London, who also supports clients in Malaga and Gibraltar; “Flexibility is key, I don’t micromanage anybody, they are true professionals and know what they’ve got to do. They have their objectives and strive to achieve them.”
As Pearson looks to the future for the company, she stresses that a key focus will be to consolidate while remaining aware of how the blockchain industry develops. With regards to recruitment in Gibraltar, she says that it will remain fairly steady. “I think the blockchain industry will really establish itself within the financial services sector in Gibraltar,” she shares, “We’re in a time of growth in Gibraltar. There’s lots happening here, so it’s great, we love the challenge.” Revealing what she enjoys most about working in the recruitment industry, Pearson shares that she likes working with people in an environment that changes daily. She adds, “It’s great if you make somebody’s dream ultimately come together and it’s a success story, you feel like you’ve really achieved something and helped shape their future. Dreams can come true!” With this focus on her staff and candidates, where will Gibraltar’s recruitment market take Pearson and her team next?