Reach (Globally) for the Stars

Livingston James is a Scottish headquartered, market-leading executive search firm. When the business was founded, the intention was to provide a genuine alternative to the traditional recruitment model by offering a premium service to clients, utilising insights, data and experience.

The strategy was to build long-lasting relationships with other Scottish headquartered businesses, from SMEs to private equity-backed, fast-growth companies, and large PLCs. Fast forward 13 years, and many of those initial relationships have developed into long-term partnerships, with both sides learning and evolving from supporting each other.

As clients came to trust us with the successful recruitment of their key hires here in Scotland and the wider UK, they also started to ask us to solve their problems across the globe. But why come to us rather than utilising a global search firm with offices all over the world? 

Kirsty Sim, our Head of Research, details below the reasons why Livingston James is well positioned to provide a global search service from our central Scotland offices.


1. Understanding the Brief is the Most Important Factor

Whether being engaged on a Scotland wide, national, or international search, the most crucial stage of the process for Livingston James is always the diagnostic briefing meeting. In this meeting, the full delivery team, including the assigned Researcher who will carry out the market mapping for the process, sits down with the client to fully understand the brief. We listen but also challenge in order to gain a comprehensive picture of the organisation, the role, and the likely background of the individual; placing the most importance on the true impact of this hire.

We do not want to measure our success on getting an individual through the door on day one – we want to ensure that individual delivers against the desired impact of their role in the medium to long term. In order to stay true to our word to this effect, we ask all our clients for feedback 12 months after candidates have started their role, and only then do we determine how successful our service has actually been.

The diagnostic meeting also allows us to build a robust search strategy. Based on the information gathered, the Researcher is able to create a plan for where to search for candidates: geographical locations, industries/sectors, what experience they require (i.e. specific skillsets, technologies, professional qualifications etc.), and how we are going to find them.


2. Technology Provides a Gateway to the World

A search is a search, no matter where in the world we are looking. The technical aspect of building a Boolean search and the diligence required to map target companies in appropriate sectors/industries is the same, no matter whether we are focusing on recruiting a Managing Director in Scotland or a Head of Turkeys in Turkey (a real example!). Provided the individuals we are targeting are somewhere in the public domain, the Research team should be able to find them.

Our methods include a mixture of LinkedIn searching, google searching and examination of industry documents such as delegate lists and news articles. The Research team at Livingston James are exhaustive and tenacious in their quest to find the very best candidates for the assignments we work on.

Of course, technology and the internet allow for much more than just headhunting these candidates. We are also able to promote the employer brand of our clients to a far-reaching audience more easily, and LinkedIn allows access to groups of individuals with specific skillsets all over the world, so the networking and referral piece can also be covered.


3. It All Comes Back to the Relationship

We fully believe that the success of any search assignment lies in a strong relationship and partnership with the client. It could be argued that the difficult part of attracting global candidates is not actually  finding them, but being able to engage with them and ‘sell’ to them why they may wish to work for our client.

Livingston James has been privileged to work with many of our clients for a number of years, and in these cases, we are able to paint a full picture of what it is like to work for them; sharing case studies of previous candidates we have successfully placed there, and essentially telling our clients’ stories with passion. This approach requires authenticity, and in turn builds trust with both the client and the candidate. We firmly believe that if we are able to build this level of relationship with our clients and candidates, it does not matter where in the world we are.

One compelling example of this was a relationship fostered with a HR Manager for a global manufacturing business headquartered out of Scotland. The business became private equity backed and the HR Manager eventually became Global VP of HR. Our close, long-held relationship allowed us to fill roles all over the world, including Managing Director for India, SVPs of Business Development in Europe and the US, VP of Supply Chain in the US and many more.


4. We Are Invested

In January 2023 we became employee-owned. We feel that there is a fundamental difference between working in a business and owning a business; and it is our belief, supported by research, that by becoming an employee-owned business we will increase employee engagement, retention and innovation, and further enhance our culture which will ultimately benefit both our candidates and clients.

Further independent research suggests that employee-owned businesses deliver superior business performance, because as co-owners of the business, employees feel more committed to the company and its success. Time will tell how this pans out for Livingston James, but as an Employee Trustee Director of the business myself, I am certainly even more invested in delivering every assignment successfully and developing prosperous relationships for the long term.

Livingston James’ global expertise includes appointments at senior and executive levels across a range of sectors including technology, agriculture and business services; and geographic locations from the UK, and wider Europe, to India and the USA. For a selection of more specific examples, please visit the Global Reach section of our website.


If you are looking to bolster your international leadership teams, please get in touch with Kirsty Sim, Head of Research, at [email protected].  

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