Employee Spotlight: James Collett!

In celebration of International HR Day, meet James — our Head of People!

May 27, 2024

Q1. Introduce yourself!

After transitioning away from a career in large-scale event operations, I gladly took an opportunity to move into an HR and Recruitment role. Since then I’ve worked for FTSE100, angel investor-backed and PE-backed companies in a variety of People roles. I’ve always found the most enjoyable part of any role has been building relationships with people and helping them to grow and learn, so working in an industry with that as a fundamental part of it appealed to me greatly. While working in HR often comes with difficult decisions and conversations, I always try to consider things holistically and if I were in a different position, how I would want to be treated and I think this stands me in good stead.

I joined Venatus just over 3 years ago, at a time when COVID was still having a huge impact on ways of working and just before the Livingbridge investment, a pivotal time for the company! Being the first HR hire the company had made and initially working in a standalone role, much of my early work was to assess and analyse where the company was regarding HR compliance and procedure while also understanding the needs and motivations of the global teams. Since that time, I’ve implemented new HRIS and ATS software, created new global and local policies, introduced new benefits and grown the People team to 4 and the company to over 110!

If I had to change anything about my time at Venatus, I would have spent more time looking at the ‘bigger picture’. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, especially in a standalone role, but it’s important to consider the long-term goals of the department and how they can positively affect the company and ensure time is dedicated to achieving these.

Q2. What attracted you to joining Venatus?

I was immediately interested by the prospect of working for a company in an industry with incredible potential, and after speaking with Matt and Rob during the recruitment process, I felt that not only could I bring my knowledge and experience to Venatus but I would also have the opportunity to learn and develop myself.

When I think about what has kept me at Venatus for so long, it's very easy for me to answer. It's the people. I’m lucky to be surrounded by hard-working, dedicated colleagues who make this company what it is. I couldn’t ask for a better team and I trust them implicitly which is a very fortunate position to be in.

Q3. As a Venatus Veteran, how would you describe Venatus’ culture and work environment? How has it changed since you started?

When I think about how Venatus has changed, it's wild. Venatus has grown from a bootstrapped company of 45 people when I joined, to a PE-backed company of over 110 people in 7 countries. Culture has always been key to success and I’m very proud of our exceptional staff retention rates. We have people who joined the company in its first year and have grown into senior leadership roles and we have a workforce spanning 3 generations, so being able to cultivate an environment that provides for all of them is a balancing act and one that I’m proud of. We have consistently received positive results from engagement surveys while trying to develop and respond to feedback on areas where we could improve.

The aspect that has impacted me most, and continues to, is the ability to have a positive impact on a global workforce. I want to continue making Venatus an attractive employer for both prospective and current employees using data-driven decisions.

I hope all of our values stand out, but for me being ‘Open to All’ is so important. We have worked hard to make sure our recruitment process is inclusive and unbiased and we continually look for ways to improve our overall culture, listening to and acting on feedback provided from all employees.

Q4. What would your advice be to someone considering Venatus as their next workplace?

When I think about the qualities that are most valued at Venatus, I think of commitment, critical thinking, and teamwork. Being a global team, employees must be committed to their roles and able to work as part of a larger team to succeed. We also encourage people to take time to think about how they are working and put forward ideas on how we can improve as a company.

We hold regular Huddle and Town Hall meetings to give general company updates and have a social committee dedicated to organising various events for our teams to participate in. We also have a DE&I committee that meets regularly to discuss internal and external issues and provides regular communication to the global team. Our ‘Venatus Voice’ newsletter, released every 2 months, allows each team to provide an update on their activities and also gives everyone an opportunity to shout out colleagues who have provided excellent service over that period.

When it comes to work-life balance, we encourage all of our teams to take the time they need to relax, and we offer above-average annual leave allowance to help facilitate this. While we recognise there can be a need to work longer hours to complete time-sensitive projects, this is not the norm and we don’t want it to be that way.

Add to this the exposure and opportunity to work across teams, locations, and functions with colleagues who remain committed to working together to achieve common goals — Venatus is a genuinely great place to work for anyone looking to grow and thrive.

BONUS QUESTION: If you could have dinner with any three people, alive or dead, who would they be?

Cleopatra - I’m a bit of an Egyptian history geek so it would be fascinating to learn about this from such an influential figure.

Jack Nicklaus - I’ve spent my entire life playing golf so to sit down with the best player of all time would be incredible and I might get a few tips!

Alan Turing - Turing played a fundamental part in saving potentially millions of lives during WWII and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern computer science. Sadly, he was prosecuted for ‘homosexual acts’ (a crime at the time) and a post-humous apology was issued in 2009. To be able to discuss the influence he has had on the modern world would be amazing.