Jobshop UK host successful Director’s Lunch with The MacGuffin Project founder

Bournemouth based recruitment specialists, Jobshop UK, welcomed The MacGuffin Project founder, Claire Timbrell, as guest speaker at its June 7 lunch held at The Harbour Heights Hotel, Sandbanks.

A graduate of Bournemouth University, Claire explained to the guests how she and her business partner set up The MacGuffin Project during training for a fitness challenge which meant saying goodbye to their routine social life of weekends spent drinking and eating out with friends.  A new social activity was required and this triggered the couple into creating a new concept in leisure and entertainment with the aim to change how groups of people socialise.

Having already overcome a number of obstacles in order to get the project off the ground, misfortune struck when Claire got notification that the build cost of the project would be more than 6 times the original quote.  On the same day, a foul waste leak flooded the venue under refurbishment.

With concerned friends and family advising Claire to accept defeat and go back to her secure and successful career in marketing, the entrepreneur refused to give up and instead felt spurred on to overcome this latest challenge.

Looking to Angel Investment for finance, a successful pitch by Claire saw all five investors interested in finding the MacGuffin Project, which finally led to the launch of the business in May this year.

Jobshop UK director, Tracey Wood, said: “Feedback from the Director’s Lunch has been fantastic, with everyone genuinely fascinated and impressed with Claire’s story behind her business start-up.  Having faced so many trials and tribulations on the way, it is hugely encouraging to meet someone who strides forward in the face of adversity.  Starting up a business is never an easy thing to do, and Claire has proven that if you really believe in yourself and your business idea, then the only thing holding you back is you.

“We are delighted to welcome back Mark Constantine, CEO and co-founder of Lush as our next speaker at our Director’s lunch on 11th October 2017.”


The MacGuffin Project founder, Claire Timbrell, announced as Directors’ Lunch speaker for June

Jobshop UK and Engage Executive Jobs has announced Claire Timbrell, founder of The MacGuffin Project, as its speaker for the Directors’ Lunch on June 7th at Harbour Heights Hotel, Poole.

Claire, a graduate of Bournemouth University’s media school, started her first business aged 17, and after spending several years running her management consultancy in London and Cardiff, has now returned to Dorset to focus on The MacGuffin Project; a new concept in leisure and entertainment that is set to change how groups of people socialize.

After a successful pre-turnover pitch by Claire and her team, The MacGuffin Project secured the investment required for its first escape room attraction, which kicks off an ambitious roll-out for the derelict carnival inspired attraction, with three venues planned over the next 18 months.

Sally Bennett, Engage executive recruitment director, said: “Claire will be joining us to talk about her entrepreneurial journey so far, and the lessons she has learnt to date.  The Harbour Heights Hotel is a fantastic venue for our highly successful directors’ lunches and we urge booking early to avoid disappointment as previous lunches have sold out quickly.”


For more information and to book your place for the Directors’ Lunch at the Harbour Heights Hotel on Wednesday June 7th contact 01202 674488 or

The Engage HR Forum Interview: Lynn Barker, HR manager of Poole Housing Partnership

Lynn Barker is HR Manager at Poole Housing Partnership (PHP). Since joining in 2008, originally to look after recruitment and training, her previous experience and skills enabled her to quickly develop a comprehensive generalist service and she now supports the business right across the HR spectrum.


How did you initially get into HR, and what aspects of the job do you particularly enjoy?

“I started my HR career at United Advertising Publications in Poole. Having worked in a couple of other roles within the company, including managing the IT Training Department, I moved to HR in late 2004. At that time there were only 2 HR Advisors for 800 employees at offices all over the country, so you could certainly say I was thrown in at the deep end, but I loved the role and the variety of work I was involved in.

“It didn’t take long before I knew that HR was the career for me and I think I took to it naturally.  I particularly enjoyed organisational development and employee engagement, which became two areas of particular interest for me.

“As part of the leadership team at PHP I’m involved at a strategic level and I have a great relationship with the senior management team who are always open to new ideas. I certainly feel I have ensured that HR is seen as a vital function within the business.”


Do you hold any professional qualifications and if so, do you feel that has helped you advance in your career?

“I really enjoyed studying for my Masters part time at Bournemouth University’s Business School, which I started in 2009, followed by two years of hard work while also working full time (I’m sure a lot of people know the feeling!). On the back of that I became a Chartered Member of the CIPD. The qualification and CIPD accreditation is valued within our industry and I gained skills and knowledge that have certainly helped me to develop my career, but I also know some fantastic HR people who are not professionally qualified, so it’s not the ‘be-all and end-all’. I took on the Masters as a personal challenge as much as anything and I also gained some great friends.”



What do you find particularly useful and inspiring when it comes to networking?

“Being a standalone HR manager can leave you a little isolated if you’re not careful, and although you can do the job without networking, why would you?  When attending The Engage Forum I always come away with something really useful, such as a good contact, some valuable information or a great idea that I can pinch (giving credit where it’s due of course!).  It’s also really nice to be able to share experiences, problems and questions with others in your field at events. As well as networking, I also attend as many employment forums and seminars as I can fit in, as these are a terrific way of staying current.”


What makes the Engage HR Forum stand out from others, in your opinion?

“I think it’s fantastic.  It stands out as it’s very different to other forums in that it is not like a training session and instead very much focuses on inspiring people.  I’ve found that at the Engage Forum, everything is relevant and I never fail to come away buzzing with ideas!  You can tell from the atmosphere in the room that everyone is engaged and inspired.  I thoroughly recommend it.”


Has there been a particular Forum which stands out for you?

“The presentation by Niall Cluley, global HR director of Fitness First, was immensely interesting and entertaining and I could really relate to what he had to say, particularly about looking at organisational and personal values and how they align.  Although his organisation is much larger than mine, his ideas were scalable and I’ve already been able to implement similar initiatives at Poole Housing Partnership. For example, we have involved the entire company in redeveloping our values and we are promoting our new model, designed by our employees, even displaying it on the back of the toilet doors!”


Niall Cluley’s presentation at the HR Forum was of particular interest to Lynn.



Are there any challenges you think HR will face in 2017?

 “Absolutely.  Recruitment is becoming increasingly challenging and the effects of Brexit may start to come in to play in the not-too-distant future, if they’re not already. Not so long ago we were inundated with applicants but currently we are seeing far fewer high calibre candidates. We are an organisation that has always valued clever people, but for us that doesn’t necessarily mean academic achievement. We love motivation, enthusiasm, innovation and passion for the work we do. We can support people to gain qualifications and skills, as long as they have the PHP attitude. So, we try to open up our candidate pool by being as inclusive as possible, and perhaps attracting people who might not necessary have specific role or sector experience, but who have transferrable skills, and importantly, the right attitude.



“Another challenge is the ‘multi-generational’ workforce with many organisations having a mix of Generation X/Y and Millennials, with Generation Z hot on their heels. We need to attract good employees, keep them engaged, motivated, performing well and communicating effectively, bearing in mind that they may be motivated by different things and so want and need different things from their careers and their employers.

“Looking further ahead, as Gen Z comes to realise that these days a degree, previously seen as so important, doesn’t guarantee a job, it’s possible that graduate schemes may increasingly be replaced with apprenticeship-type schemes.”


Can you tell us a bit about your working relationship with Sally at Engage?

 “Sally really took her time to find out what Poole Housing Partnership was really about and built up a lot of loyalty, trust and respect by listening to our expectations and taking them seriously.  Above all, Sally and Engage were able to come up with the goods!  Every single candidate that Sally found for us was appointable, which is very rare.  Through Sally, we found our new FD who, as well as being excellent at her job, is an extremely good fit for the company.  Sally is both professional and personable, which makes the working relationship we have with Engage a very pleasant and productive one.”


AFC Bournemouth kick-off a new season of Engage and Jobshop UK director’s lunches

Engage Executive Jobs and Jobshop UK, has kicked-off the first director’s lunch of 2017 by welcoming AFC Bournemouth chairman, Jeff Mostyn, and commercial director, Rob Mitchell as its guest speakers.

The highly acclaimed lunch, attended by over 60 company directors and held at The Harbour Heights Hotel, Poole, saw Jeff candidly discuss his journey with the Premier League team, from when he first purchased the club in 2007 during what he described as, ‘a Victor Kiam moment.’

With an undeniable passion for football, Jeff has been an integral part of the behind the scenes improvements at the Vitality Stadium over the past 10 years, as well as proving himself to be an immensely well-respected figure both locally and within the game on a national level, due to his unparalleled football knowledge and commitment to the local community.

Talking about the club’s rise to the premier division, Jeff revealed that the town has benefitted from an estimated £100 million being spent as a direct result of AFC Bournemouth’s success.

Commercial director of AFC Bournemouth, Rob Mitchell, joined Jeff to talk about the club’s charitable interests and vision for success.  The club is dedicated to investing in projects and facilities for the area, has a vision to engage 4,500 people a week in sport and educational initiatives, and is passionate about inspiring diversity in sport, and preparing young people for work.

Launched in 2016, The Cherries Community Fund supports a number of projects for young people and vulnerable groups, as well as being involved in supporting community groups and charities.  Financed from the proceeds of the popular Matchday Draw and any other donations the club receives, the fund has so far donated over £21,000 to 33 projects ranging from football kits for schools, to sensory gardens for care homes.

Sally Bennett, executive recruitment director at Engage said: “The first director’s lunch of the year was a phenomenal success.  Jeff and Rob really engaged our guests who had lots of questions for them.  It was fascinating to hear about Jeff’s personal story with the club, as well as its involvement with the community and its charitable and social causes.  I often feel when people think of football they don’t realise what a club is putting back into the community or how having a successful club really does benefit the local area.  The next Engage and Jobshop lunch will be on June 7th with further details available shortly.”


Meet Emily – our newest recruit at Engage.

Engage is delighted to welcome Emily as our new executive recruitment resourcer.


Emily’s past experience working within social media, corporate training, recruitment and people management in London, means that she will be bringing a huge amount of experience with her to Engage.  In particular, having previously integrated the use of social media into the recruitment process, using innovative and highly successful techniques, Emily will be using this expertise in order to grow Engage’s presence on its social media platforms; Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Emily attended her first HR Forum this month when Dave Hall from Ideas Centre Group presented a lively and thought provoking introduction into what his company is about and the ethos behind it.


Emily said: “My first HR Forum was a really great experience. I’ve been to a lot of networking events over the years, and I found the Engage HR Forum to be one of the friendliest groups yet.  It was nice to meet new people as well as seeing some friendly faces.  I’m really looking forward to helping Sally organise and host the forums in the future. I’ll be the one taking lots of pictures and live-tweeting snapshots of the event!

“Dave Hall’s session on creativity was fascinating, especially having worked in creative industries myself, and I look forward to attending one of his full workshops soon.”


If you would like to find out more about the HR Forums, please contact or call 01202 674488


HR Forum: 2nd February – Dave Hall from Ideas Centre

I’m delighted to announce that Dave Hall from Ideas Centre will be kicking off our hugely successful HR Forums for 2017.

The Ideas Centre provides organisations of all types (private sector, public sector, charities, small and large) with the ability to challenge the traditional thinking that traps them within the world of “more of the same”. We run in-house sessions and train individuals to facilitate hands-on through local Ideas Centre workshops, introducing problem-solving techniques that develop Breakthrough Thinking, allowing organisations to actively find creative solutions and proactively drive innovation.

Thinking will be challenged, stretched, provoked, stimulated by techniques that take even the most conventional, left brain, hard-line problem solvers through step-by-step instruction that will release fresh insights, creative solutions, and take control of the innovation process.

At the Engage HR Forum, Dave will talk about how a culture of creativity and innovation can differentiate a business.  We, ourselves, have taken part in his masterclasses and can therefore speak from first hand experience of how he has helped us think differently and create new solutions, so it goes without saying that Dave comes with a personal recommendation!

Over the past 2 years, the Engage HR Forums have gained momentum and respect as one of the most innovative, relevant and enjoyable forums to attend for HR directors and managers.  Our guest speakers are consistently high quality and in-demand professionals who have proven track records in helping businesses, as well as often having their own personal journey to use as experience to the benefit of others.

Get in touch if you’d like more information or to book your place!

Our next HR Forum will take place:

When:   Thursday 2nd February 2017

Where: The Cliff, 6 Ravine Road, Poole, BH13 7HX

Time: Arrive from 8.30am, start at 9.00am, finish at 11.00am.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Candidate management and the art of the balancing act


When I am recruiting candidates into specific roles for my clients, although focused on the brief in hand, I am also highly mindful of the bigger picture; that is, candidate management.


Being a great recruiter is like spinning plates.  During the recruitment process you may meet exceptionally skilled and talented people who are not quite right for the role you are currently recruiting for, but, who you know will be highly sought after for another role which could open up in the future.


Building good relationships with these candidates is key to strengthening my relationships with my clients, and in turn, is essential to enhancing the success of the recruitment process.


Any candidate can look great on paper, but not all personalities lend themselves well to all jobs.  Understanding the ethos and culture of the company I am recruiting for is another essential element in sourcing the best candidate for the role.  Effective candidate management means considering not just a person’s academic and professional achievements, and work experience, but also how well he or she is likely to get along with co-workers, and their ability to excel in that company’s work environment, as well as satisfy the job’s overall requirements.


Candidate management, at its core, is relationship management; evaluating people based on that sixth sense; that instinct that this person is not just a good fit, but a perfect fit, for a position.


In a candidate led market, keeping in touch with those high calibre professionals, not letting your ‘data’ on them go stale, and being aware of any new developments in their professional lives is essential to being a great recruitment partner to your clients.


Another factor of candidate management which makes the difference in a great recruitment partner, involves being able to see potential talent and how it will benefit a business in the future, and not just based on present business needs and trends.  In a candidate driven market, it is no longer simply about hiring talent; a business must be able to see the potential for high calibre candidates it meets within its organisation even without a current specific role, hire them, and then retain that talent by making them feel a valued part of the organisation.  The candidate needs to be nurtured or a company risks losing a valuable employee to a rival company.


At its core, candidate management is about balancing patience with due diligence, and technology with an appreciation for talent; using data alongside human instinct.  Ultimately, it’s about keeping those plates spinning until the right time…



HR Forum: Jo Kane discusses resilience


I’m always thrilled by the feedback we get from our HR Forums, and I can honestly say it’s been a delight to welcome each and every one of our speakers, who have all brought with them their own unique and inspiring perspective, and knowledge, to our breakfast gatherings.  With that in mind, it was fantastic to see so many of you joining us again to hear Jo Kane of Trailblazers return to the Forum to talk about resilience, last month.

I think it’s fair to say, by the level of interaction from everyone listening to Jo whilst enjoying coffee, croissants and bacon rolls, her presentation hit just the right note with everyone at the forum.  There was lots of discussion, nodding heads and laughs as Jo discussed the topic, highlighting the fact that often, we simply do not give as much care, attention and thought to ourselves as we do to our friends and colleagues.  In short; don’t be so hard on yourself!

My thanks also to Malcolm Scott Walby for taking the time to add his professional thoughts and welcomingly unique and candid insight into employment law issues affecting our businesses. 

Here, Jo has generously written a post forum blog for us, which I am sure you will take a lot from.  As always, I would love to get your feedback, thoughts and suggestions on topics and speakers you would like to see at our HR Forums.

– Sally


It’s well known that the great inventor, Thomas Edison, made many thousands of unsuccessful attempts before he finally came up with the lightbulb and subsequently many other inventions. He wasn’t deterred by his apparent failures but chose to see them leading him towards his desired outcome.

Resilience was clearly one of his attributes; that ability to keep going, to bounce back and not to let failures deter you or get in the way.

Why is resilience increasingly important for us in our lives and not just in the corporate world?

Life can bring many challenges and, in fact, it would appear to be part of the journey that everyone has to deal with. If we fall over at the first hurdle and let that define us then we wouldn’t get very far. Resilience is important as it helps navigate our way through the challenges and grow from those experiences. It’s a trait that many of us would like to develop within ourselves and can be closely linked to our levels of self-esteem and confidence.


Cultivating a strong sense of resilience gives us an inner strength and a trust in ourselves that we can recover and reconnect with a part of ourselves that is strong, adaptable and resourceful. Often people think that it’s something you were born with, and it’s true that there are some individuals who do seem to be naturally more resilient. However, it’s not just a question of nature over nurture, as we know that resilience is a trait that we can build and cultivate. It’s not set in stone and with a bit of focus and conscious awareness we can all become more resilient. For those of us who are parents, surely it must be one of the key attributes we would like to see our children showing up with. Therefore, role modelling that to our offspring as well as to those around us in business makes a lot of sense.

Tips for Building Resilience

Make sure you are getting enough sleep. It sounds so obvious but sleep deprivation can really impair your mental and cognitive processes. Given that resilience has a lot to do with how you look at situations then you can start to see how not getting enough sleep could really skew your perspective.

Are you actually moving around enough during the day? We weren’t designed to be sedentary all day sitting in front of a computer. Our bodies were designed for movement and we thrive when we can move about and the blood is pumping round. Even if you can’t fit in the time for exercise which really is the ideal then at least get up and walk around regularly.  It’s said that even moderate walking can help your brain’s memory centre maintain its health and vitality.

Being able to manage the voice of your inner critic is also key to building resilience. Often when we are about to step outside of our comfort zone and take a risk, the voice of our inner critic usually has something to say. It might be along the lines of ‘who do you think you are?’ ‘`It will never work and you ‘ll end up looking stupid,’ or ‘What’s the point, no-one will listen.’ You get the picture! That voice is designed to keep us small, and if we want to build our resilience and feel confident on the inside then we need to learn how to manage that voice. A simple Clock It, Stop It and Swap It approach can help.


First you have to notice what’s happening as without that awareness the voice will run you. You then have to remember to Stop It – You have a choice and you can let go of listening to the limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. The final part is shifting to a more expansive perspective and swapping the destructive self-talk for something that’s more empowering. How would you speak to your best friend? Often, we are so harsh with ourselves and wouldn’t dream of speaking to our friends in the same way. Think about how compassionate, encouraging and supportive you would be with a friend. Adopt a bit of that for yourself.

The key thing to remember with resilience is that it’s not what happens to us but it’s how we choose to deal with it. A resilient person will make the most of their situation and look for the learning, and perhaps even look to how they can use what they have learned in service of others. It’s been said that a miracle is a shift in perspective. What perspectives may you need to shift in your own life?


Ageism in the workplace: Throw out your stereotypes and tap into the talent of the silver surfer generation.


Over the past five years, the total number of people in employment in the UK has grown by 6.9%, with employment for the over 50s rising faster than for younger workers.  So, with this in mind, I always ask myself, ‘why is it that employers seem less keen to see candidates in the 50+ demographic?’


According to a report by the Institute of Leadership and Management, 61 per cent of managers say that their over fifties workers have low, or very low, potential to progress.  An assumption is made that the over-fifties, having entered their ‘Autumn years,’ will be looking to sit comfortably back in their role, and lack the enthusiasm and drive which is so key to some of the more dynamic companies’ ethos.


However, this short sighted and incorrect assumption does not take in to account all the positive aspects the over 50’s bring to the workplace, as it is this age group who score higher than their younger colleagues on occupation specific knowledge and skills (85%) and understanding of customers (78%).  So, if you want an employee who is confidently able to engage with your customer, and share their industry know-how with co-workers, then it’s an over 50s candidate you want!


In my experience, the over 50s are equally as keen and motivated in their jobs as their younger counterparts. Many professionals are choosing not to retire until they are well into their 70s – either for financial reasons, or, simply because they love their job and feel they still have so much to offer.  After all, not everyone wants to go from career professional to spending their days gardening and babysitting grandchildren!  The over 50s have a plethora of skills, knowledge, and the added benefit of experience, to bring to a company and shouldn’t be written off due to preconceived opinions and stereotypes surrounding their age group.


If you are put off recruiting an older employee for fear that they won’t be as tech-savvy with the internet, high-tech software packages, or even the in-house intranet, think again. They may not have grown up with a smartphone grasped in their hand, but this is the generation who has seen the biggest improvements and changes in industry based technology throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.  The phrase ‘silver surfers’ exists for a reason, so believe me, they can handle the technology!  Having said that, when it comes to employees facebooking and snapchatting during work hours, it’s much less likely to be your over 50s – another bonus to your department’s productivity.


So, where does the law stand on using age as a discriminatory factor when hiring?


In a nutshell, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate directly by treating a job applicant or employee less favourably because of age without objective justification. This would preclude an employer from passing an employee by for promotion on a belief that because of their age they were not keen to step into a new role.


Government figures show that an estimated 13.5 million jobs will be created over the next 10 years, but only 7 million young people will enter the labour force. A management skills’ gap is looming, and employers would be foolish to disregard the talent of older workers.