Surviving the GFC - Lessons in resilience
The business was enjoying success all round. In 2007 Trish won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Service Sector and Her Business, Businesswoman of the Year. Both teams in Australia and New Zealand were winning numerous accolades at the annual Seek Sara Recruitment Industry awards.
While the Global Financial Crisis had started to impact the world, the brunt of the recession didn’t fully hit the business until late 2008 into 2009. Unlike Covid which felt like it arrived overnight, the GFC felt like death by a thousand cuts. John, Trish and the business had never faced anything but fabulous and the world as they knew it spiralled downwards.
Over the years Trish and John had worked tirelessly to pull together a good team, they knew that great recruiters who shared their passion for retail and hospitality careers were hard to find and that they needed to take the time to nurture and develop their skills. This made the decision to downsize their teams one of the lowest points in their careers. In Trish’s words “we were slow to react to the GFC, we were too optimistic that the market would start to improve and so we carried costs that were far too high for the trade we were experiencing”
At the time Retailworld & Hospoworld had 10 offices throughout NZ and AUS filled with a great bunch of really engaged people. The team adjusted with the business, a time which became to be known as “operation skinny”. Before roles were disestablished the business scrutinised and chopped most expense lines. The team supported these changes such as limited availability of resources and drastic cutbacks at Friday night drinks - there were no more excessive wines, cheeses and fancy snacks it felt like overnight we chopped to a single bag chips and a bottle of wine shared across the team.
When the time came to downsize the team, Trish and John really felt the pain of seeing the business shrink and their people having to be let go. The culture of the business shifted, the fun, vibrant and hardworking team they had worked so hard to build disappeared before their eyes. While it was a bumpy journey for anyone involved at the time (and probably accounts for a few grey hairs on Trish and John!) the challenges that it presented and the lessons learned, albeit the hard way, have all helped shape RWR Group into who we are today.
Retailworld and Hospoworld survived battered but not beaten, if anything the vision to get back on track while holding on to the lessons learnt throughout the GFC are hugely valued today. Trish and John applied many learnings to the positions they faced at the onset of Covid. Many conversations were had with our people during this time, about how we travel out of this Covid experience will shape who you are as a business person and a leader in the future - even if you don’t see that now! Resilience is a valued quality in life and business and Covid bought that requirement to the front of everyone's game!
Retailworld and Hospoworld couldn’t have weathered these storms without the people that stuck by our side, the loyalty of our clients and candidates and the resilience of the industries that we represent.