Be vocal: Nadia Edwards-Dashti

The co-founder and managing director of fintech recruitment company, Harrington Star, on seeing every hurdle as an opportunity to improve

People 24 Jan 2020

Nadia Edwards-Dashti, Founder & Managing Director

Nadia Edwards-Dashti, founder and managing director of Harrington Star

I studied history at UCL and, like most of my peers, graduated with a 2:1. I remember thinking at the time: ‘What am I going to do for a job? And how can I differentiate myself?’

I went on to do a Masters in International Relations and completed it in one year while holding down three jobs. I became so disciplined during this time, getting into the library at 8am every morning and structuring my day to ensure the utmost productivity. This helped me when I started attending interviews after graduating and I was eventually hired because the interviewer could see my resilience, my ability to multitask and that I will go the distance.

This is what became the point of difference I was looking for, which set me apart from other applicants. I was aware that I was never necessarily the most talented, but I worked very hard for everything I got. That has stood me in very good stead, and I value my achievements so much more as a result.

I didn’t always understand the purpose of what I was doing at the start of my recruitment journey, but one thing I did was look around me and learn from the people I admire, before becoming more confident in doing things my way. A lot of people have the perception that recruitment is very “hard-sell”, but it’s actually about being supportive, protecting someone’s career and helping them to make the right long-term decision for themselves.

This hasn’t always been the case. Twenty years ago, this wasn’t necessarily the way anyone in recruitment was talking, the general commentary was usually that I wasn’t cutthroat enough, but, despite adversity, I stuck with compassion and never focused on the pay off or the doubters, instead trusting in my ability and process.

In 2010, I founded Harrington Starr, a fintech recruitment company, alongside CEO, Toby Babb, and co-founder, James Hounslow, with compassion as a key principle behind it. We have always stuck to old-fashioned values and customer service and honesty is at the heart of what we do. Interviewing can be a stressful time in someone’s life and nerves are to be expected. We feel that we provide the understanding, compassion and process to help alleviate some of that pressure and make sure everyone is being judged on their ability and not sabotaging themselves through nerves.

Now I’m managing recruiters and the challenge is very much about the strategies of growing a business. I think one of the biggest challenges is explaining that hurdles are not a bad thing. Every day we face new challenges, and it’s not about which one is the biggest or which one is the hardest, it’s about learning from every challenge and every hurdle and seeing every one of them as an opportunity to improve.

Our core business has been to place people into technology firms, a sector that has been heavily dominated by men for a long time. However, I’m aiming to change that. Over time, I’ve got a lot better at vocalising my views, building my personal brand and championing my own personal achievements. In any industry, someone who is very good at representing themselves is going to be remembered. Someone may well have achieved more, but if they aren’t willing to tell people about it, nobody is going to know. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about your achievements and don’t let the majority in the room stop you from sharing your views and ideas.

My Harrington Starr co-founder, James Hounslow, gave me one of the best pieces of advice; the more people you come into contact with or affect in business, the more likely it is that there are going to be some people out there who don’t agree with you, and you’ve just got to accept that. It’s OK, as long as it’s not the majority.

Since being part of Brummell magazine’s Inspirational Women list in September 2019, I’m launching a spin-off series to my ‘Women of Fintech’ podcast series by doing a short series called ‘Maternity and Paternity stories of Fintech’. My purpose is to show the world that fintech, as an industry, has embraced diversity and inclusion and shed the traditional image of being intolerant and archaic. I would really like to celebrate those stories and I’m booked to speak at three universities this year to encourage more people to join the industry.

I have also hired a new training manager at Harrington Starr to help implement a whole new leadership strategy I’m putting together, which I really want to use to empower the next generation of leaders. I am due to have my first baby in May, and rather than hiring somebody to look after the business, I want to train my next generation of leaders to become self-sufficient and succeed without me being here during maternity leave. I want to inspire them and help them to progress their own careers as well as those who come after them.