Ex-soldier’s march on on-line hiring

• Bill Shipton, 38, is managing director of PeopleBank, the UK’s first on-line recruitment company. PeopleBank, set up in 1990, lists 700 advertised vacancies on its web site and holds 130,000 CVs on its database. It claims to have between 25,000 and 60,000 hits a day.


PT What was your first job?


BS I joined the army from school and was in it from 1981 to 1993. I served in the Royal Green Jackets where I ended as personal staff officer to General Sir David Ramsbotham, the army board member for personnel. This was during Options for Change, a review that led to the most radical restructuring of the army since the Second World War.


PT What was your first senior position?


BS Director of Infocheck Online, an on-line credit information provider. This was on-line before the Web.


PT Describe your most significant career move?


BS Leaving the army. It was more than a job change – it was a change in my way of life.


PT When did you make the move to an on-line company?


BS In 1995, when I became managing director of PeopleBank.


PT Why were you considered the person for the job?


BS Natural leadership – my military background was useful for this. Also, we had a shared vision of seeing what impact the on-line world was going to have on business.


PT Would you go back to a bricks and mortar company?


BS Not a pure one. But I think we are rapidly moving towards a situation where the companies that haven’t embraced new technology will be peculiar.


PT What is the most difficult experience you have had to deal with at PeopleBank?


BS Raising £4.5m last year – it took a lot of hard work. This was for PeopleBank’s second round of funding when media giant Carlton became involved. Carlton holds shares in the company along with previous owner Associated Newspapers.


PT What is the biggest risk you have taken in your career?


BS Buying PeopleBank from Associated Newspapers. I ran it for Associated after a previous involvement because I knew the original founders, David Vanrenen and Alan Tucker. I then funded a management buy-out. I had a staff shake-out at this time but since then I have had a core of loyal staff who are still with me.


PT What are your personal ambitions and for PeopleBank?


BS To continue with our mission of being the premier CV database in the UK. We are already three times bigger than our nearest rival in CV terms. As for me, I’m in it for the long term – I always felt it was a case of when, not if, and I believe that when is now.


PT Who do you admire in the dotcom world?


BS Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of lastminute.com, purely because I think she’s a naturally gifted handler of the media. I’ve seen her on TV and heard her on Radio 4’s Today programme and she’s brilliant.


PT What are your bookmarks?


BS www.railtrack.com, www.askjeeves.co.uk, www.ft.com and www.imdb.co.uk, the Internet movie database. In terms of HR-related sites, www.oneclickhr.com is interesting.

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