12th October 2016
Every Wednesday JHPR spotlight a woman doing amazing things within her business field. As champions of startups and small business owners we will be selecting a wonder woman to profile each week. As champions of startups and small business owners we will be selecting a wonder woman to profile each week.
Our Wednesday Wonder Woman is 30 year old Jessica Williams, who has worked for some of the city’s best known recruitment firms, investment banks, high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs. The catalyst for starting her business was disbelief at what she describes as an “often unbelievably antiquated” secretarial recruitment industry.
With agencies making money by placing highly skilled, yet frequently undervalued PAs who are often superficially assessed based on the way they look, dress and speak, the Sidekicks London Founder is challenging the status quo. Jessica truly believes that your professional life can work around your personal life and she also reinforces it with her clients. Flexible working isn’t a concession, it’s a life choice. And as an employer and an advocate for her candidates it is possible for people to embrace and excel equally in all areas of their lives, if they are able to operate outside of an outdated and rigid environment.
What is your business? I was a PA for over a decade and I now run Sidekicks: a London-based company supplying exceptional support talent. We provide Assistants, Receptionists, Administrators and front of house talent – the crucial backbone of support to founders, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, all over the world.
How long has your business been trading? We launched in January 2016 and are now a team of eight; we’ve rapidly established ourselves as a disruptive presence within the very traditional secretarial recruitment market.
What inspired you to start your business? As a PA, I became frustrated by what I saw as the old-fashioned attitude towards administrative workers, and I wanted to do something positive to change that. I felt that our profession deserved a recruiter who genuinely understood and championed the role of support talent as critical to business, rather than seeing it as some sort of fallback career.
What has been your greatest business achievement?
Closing our first round of funding for an unbelievably exciting project we’re preparing to launch next year, after months of daunting, Dragons Den-style pitching. We can’t talk about the details quite yet, but we hope it’s going to change the landscape of support recruitment.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced along your business journey? The greatest challenge for me has been learning to maintain an extraordinarily high level of self-reliance. There’s no fallback – you can’t just do a nine-to-five and leave your work behind you when you go home. If you underperform there is nowhere to hide, no excuses, no backup. You do not just constantly have to steer your own ship, but that of the wider business and the people who work within it, too.
How is your business contributing to your community or society? We run a scheme, called Work to Recover, in which we work with the incredible London charity Free Me to actively guide and support women in recovery from addictions and eating disorders.
Here at Sidekicks we wholeheartedly support Free Me’s fundamental dedication to helping women battling to overcome often overwhelmingly difficult personal challenges.
A really practical way in which Sidekicks can help these women is to offer them guidance, support and assistance when they are ready to re-enter the world of work. We provide free CV workshops, interview coaching, and arrange work placements with Sidekicks clients in order to help the women adjust to the world of work once more.
I also personally mentor some of these women on a 1:1 basis which is immensely rewarding and has hugely enriched my life and taught me an awful lot.
How has media coverage helped to raise your profile?
The single best piece of media has been securing the opportunity to write for the Huffington Post which has been invaluable in reaching out to individuals and companies within our market whose ethos matches our own. Coverage in the Financial Times also directly impacted our business, which was great!
Best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
“Raise capital when you can, not when you have to.”
Where is your product or service available?
If you want exceptional support for you or your business, just give us a call on 020 3709 5250 or take a look at our website.
Business website and social media handles. www.Sidekicks.london @LondonSidekicks www.facebook.com/LondonSidekicks