This week's Female Founder is Sophie Eden, Co-founder of Gordon & Eden. Gordon & Eden are a boutique Executive Search firm, focussed solely on Digital & Technology industries. Sophie is the epitome of ambitious and certainly a fantastic role model to aspire towards. She was recently shortlisted for Management Today's 35 under 35.
Hi Sophie! Great to chat with you today, can we start by talking about your journey so far?
Well I fell into recruitment by accident, almost ten years ago now. I loved it and spent a couple of years in a large Plc where I set up their Retail division and won accounts such as Ebay, Amazon & Asos. I then moved to a startup that was initially focused on the senior-end of the market. I was there for six years and sat on the management team that helped grow the business to 70 people. I also met Sam, my cofounder, here. We co-ran the Executive Search division and always worked exceptionally well together. We decided to create our own brand at the beginning of this year to address a gap in the Search market. We felt there wasn't one firm that was totally connected both within the startup and corporate worlds and Gordon & Eden was born!
Have you always wanted to set up your own business?
Yes. I have always worked in quite entrepreneurial environments and I always knew my end goal was to be my own boss and have my own business.
Do you think that working in those environments is where that passion came from?
Partly but I don't think there is one reason for anything. Its a number of factors that come together. I have been working with startups for many years and its quite infectious! I've met so many amazing founders that have inspired me. I also went to the first girls school in the country and a belief that you can be anything you want to be has been ingrained in me from the age of 7. Being a woman, I have felt that I'm slightly racing against the clock. The time that most women break to have kids is the time that we are just getting into our career prime. So I think I have always thought I have got to achieve everything faster because of the fact that I may have children one day. My parents also played a massive part. They both instilled a work ethic and drive in me and taught me to never walk away from something just because it may be hard.
Gordon & Eden - The Story
What has the journey with Gordon & Eden been like so far?
Its been fun but intense! We’re seven months old and we’ve been very lucky that we have been able to work with some amazing clients and deliver some high-profile Board appointments in that time. As we have got very busy very quickly there have been long hours and very hard work.
Do you think it is important to have a co-founder when starting a business?
I don't think it is important at all but it has been amazing to have someone to bounce ideas off. We have different strengths but complement each other whilst sharing the same values.
How do you get people to trust in you and win those great clients?
It is our knowledge in the space; our network and our focus on high quality delivery. We are exceptionally well connected and have been doing this for a long time. Sam has been doing this for 17 years, and I have been doing it for almost 10 years, always within digital and technology. We have a strong track record and the majority of our work comes from recommendations from previous clients.
How are you finding building a team within Gordon & Eden? What goes through your mind when you are looking at building a culture within your company?
Sam and I have always preferred working in flat structures so that is the environment we are trying to create. I think if you hire great, smart people and mentor and coach them you will get the best out of them. It is important for us to provide an environment where people can thrive and learn but also have fun.
What is the vision for the future of the company? Where do you see Gordon & Eden going in the next six months?
The vision for us is to be a world-class, well-respected, executive search firm for our industry. To be a companies’ first choice when they need senior level digital talent.
Challenges & Achievements
What do you think your biggest challenge has been so far?
It is definitely time-management. I have always been very organized and efficient and I make a list for every list. I am a control freak and I think the biggest challenge is not feeling like I am on top of everything. It is about focusing on amazing delivery and execution whilst running a business, and everything that comes with it.
How do you manage all those tasks?
I think it is just accepting sometimes that you’re going to be stressed and that’s ok. Its ok to feel very overwhelmed and a bit lost and its in those periods that we often learn the most. I am a qualified NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioner, so when I am stressed I try to turn that feeling into a positive one!
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement so far?
Making the Shortlist of Management Today’s ‘35 Women Under 35’ was amazing. Being 29, having set up my own company and working with some iconic brands as well as high growth start-ups. I feel very lucky.
Women in Business
What do you think can be done to encourage more women to start their own businesses?
Women need to believe they can achieve things before they may have mastered everything. A man will go for a promotion if they possess a few skills on a job description whereas a woman will typically wait until they have mastered all of them. In terms of what can be done I think we have to go back to the school system and start educating girls about what their options are. I am also a big fan of coaching because it is about goal setting, working out what it is that you want to do and working out ways to achieve it. Having a female role model or a mentor is also very helpful. My mum was a very successful business woman and I have always had her to look up to and talk to.
Book & Tool Recommendations
What advice would you have for people wanting to start their own business?
I think to start your own business you need to be confident but be self-aware. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance so don’t think you can do everything. If there are things that you don’t know, work out what those things are and ask for help, or delegate. Think about what your strengths are and how you can utilize them.
What do you think of your personal vision for the future?
I think happiness is a journey and it is really easy to say those words but it can be difficult sometimes to live them. If I think about my vision for myself it’s having a successful business, but it’s also having a wonderful family, having great friends and genuinely just stopping to enjoy the journey.