Opus Recruitment Solutions founder and CEO Darren Ryemill (BEng & BCom Manufacturing Engineering & Commerce, 1999) established his entrepreneurial skills while studying at Birmingham, running black tie events for student societies. After a short spell on a graduate management training scheme with Rolls-Royce, he moved into recruitment and has seen his business grow rapidly year-on-year since its founding in 2008.
While Darren confesses he is not a ‘techie’, the company maintains its place at the cutting edge of the IT sector by maintaining strong networks and contacts with industry leaders to stay abreast of upcoming trends in the market - not just looking for the next big thing, but for the next five years.
Here Darren outlines his working philosophy and his entrepreneurial keys for success.
What did you learn from your time at university that has helped with your career?
It exposed me to different people and different ways of thinking, and fired my ambitions: what can I be, and what do I want to achieve?
I am an ardent follower of the idea of belief – that if you truly believe you can do something, you will be able to do so. Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” I absolutely agree.
I applied to study Economics at Birmingham but failed to make the required A-level grades, but was offered a chance to do Commerce, as long as it was in combination with Manufacturing. In effect, I did a double honours degree over four years and was proud to achieve a 2:1.
If I’m honest, from an early stage I was never interested in pursuing engineering as a career. I was always interested in being an entrepreneur and rather than taking a job in the corporate sector, I wanted to ‘make money’ in the truest sense, something that had been with me since I was 11 or 12 and doing three newspaper rounds and cutting the neighbour’s grass.
What excites you about your job?
There’s always the next challenge and you can always reset the bar. We have a short time on this planet and it’s important to make every day count. People respond to others with a positive attitude and energy and I think that’s lead to us being voted as the best recruitment agency in the country. I love my job. I love coming to work, and am inspired by the people I work with. I won’t employ anyone I would not want to work for myself, as I see myself as a servant of them. They should feel that they can use me as they need to, as part of a resource of the business.
What skills do you need to be an entrepreneur?
Dragons’ Den is very fashionable, but for every successful entrepreneur there will be another who has failed. The success rate of businesses in the UK is less than 50%, and worse in technology. There are a few key things:
- You definitely need a bit of luck.
- You need a good idea, but even the best idea may not come off without that bit of fortune – every entrepreneur will have been weeks from going bust.
- You need to be able to make educated gambles about what you’re doing.
- You’ll need plenty of drive, determination and passion. You can’t get anywhere without hard work.
- Once you have a business up and running, you can’t lose sight of the need to make more money than you spend. You can’t afford to lose money on a daily basis – and I’ve followed that rule myself, as we have always followed organic growth and have never borrowed money to spend on a business.
- And finally, the people in your business will determine its success, so make sure you go for the best people, working together as a group.
- When you have the right people in place, create a culture of belief that we can achieve what we want to do, and continue to aim higher. The culture has to come before the strategy.