Don't believe the hype, I am the real Don Draper...

Don Draper
Don Draper

If you know me or have read my blog before, you will know that I have a man crush on fictional character Don Draper (not the actor Jon Hamm).  I say fictional, the internet would suggest otherwise, so much so you would be hard pushed to spot the gap between fact and fiction and to be fair that suits me fine.  The desire to be more Don like is strong especially if I can leave him to advertising in c1960 somethingwhilst I will focus on recruitment c2012.

Viewers of Mad Men will know he has it all.  Looks, smart suits, wit and charm.  He knows a target demographic when he sees one and creates advertising campaigns that develop a conversation, extend the reach of the brand and look to change or enhance perception of an increasingly consumerised America.  Naturally all of this good stuff is balanced off by his serial philandering, increasing alcohol consumption, poor relationships and internal torment about life, his past and who he is.

You pick out the bits that apply to me.  Be nice.

If you spend any real life time with me in a work environment at some point, typically in a long meeting you will see me do some strange middle distance stare.  Be clear, I am still paying attention, still engaged but will be desperately trying to answer the question... 

“What would Don Draper do?”

In meetings it is simple.  He would walk back over to his mini bar, complete with fresh ice and pour himself another drink.  Whilst my alcohol intake is a lot lower than his what stops me is the lack of a mini bar.  Or an office. Or a glass. You get the point. 

In the broader recruitment landscape it is less clear. Don would thrive in my world.  Increasingly we are a marketing activity, brand builders and developers constrained by budget rather than talent, creativity or ability.   However the large corporates many of us work for don’t always see what we do as an investment in their brand, their bottom line their increased success.  Instead we are sidelined to fulfil admin tasks, sift CV’s and add little value to some of the organisations we support.  Not all but some.

Don would not stand for this.

But what’s the answer?

If I claim to be the recruitment Don, the saviour of the recruitment industry how do I stick to my principles and dive in where others fear to tread.  It will no doubt end in tears.  But not today. 

Luckily today I am distracted.  I am leading a team of busy recruiters, even busier contract creation team in what is a complex recruitment environment across 28 countries.  As distractions go it is sizeable and has morphed beyond the day job to become a little piece of me.  It is this that makes me Don, this blurring of the boundaries and focus on doing more with the opportunity I have in front of me. 

But I haven’t sold out yet I still know that I will change things, move things on just that It cannot be done in a big bang but small, slow deliberate chips, taking process, candidate experience and brand head on building the defensive wall to enable my snatch squads to run out and grab small victories.

What would Don Draper do?  Park this post for now and come back later with something stronger for you to debate. 


I have background in executive search and selection, headhunting and senior level recruitment combined with people and business management experiences. My focus has always been on the IT services, technology and management consultancy sectors on a permanent and interim basis where I have developed a personal portfolio that covers areas such as EVP, social recruitment and the successful creation of talent pools as well the management and leadership of corporate talent acquisition teams.

Currently working across Europe with high growth, high tech organisations to develop effective blended onshore/offshore recruitment models, covering full commercial engagement, transition and ongoing delivery management.

I am an avid blogger, writer, public speaker and traveller of trains across the UK.