How to become a managing director

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Jane Roberts is managing director of a recruitment agency based in Edinburgh covering central Scotland and other areas, including Aberdeen and Oban. She is responsible for the smooth running of the agency.

What does your job as a managing director involve?

There are four main areas – working with existing clients, promoting the business to possible new clients, responsibility for profitability and staff development, and running training courses on subjects like interviewing and managing people.

The agency recruits staff for its clients. I spend a lot of my time discussing their type of business and the jobs that need filling. Our clients include accountants, lawyers, and many family-run, small and medium-sized businesses.

How do you find new clients?

I attend business meetings and other events where I can promote the agency to new of different businesses in the areas we cover. I spend a lot of time on the phone to potential clients finding out their particular needs and selling our business to them.

How many people work with you?

There are 14 members of staff here. They are mainly office based, but spend some time visiting clients to find out more about their businesses. This helps to know the sort of person and type of qualifications and skills needed for individual clients when vacancies occur.

I have to make sure that all our staff perform well in their jobs and I'm responsible for their training and development. I personally attend seminars and workshops to keep up-to-date with things like health and safety, employment law, current business and selling skills.

What challenges do you face?

It's a very tough industry, with lots of competition. Recruitment agency staff work on commission – they get a basic salary topped up by earning commission on successful recruitment for clients.

You're only as good as your last month in terms of the number of people you placed in jobs and the income earned for the business. For all the people placed in jobs and satisfied clients, there are always plenty of others who turn down the job you are recruiting for, or clients who don't want to use your services this time round. You have to cope with people saying 'no'!

Are there any particular skills and qualities you needed by a managing director?

Determination and a huge amount of self-motivation are vital in recruitment work. It's important to be a very positive person too. You have to take the knocks on the chin and move on to the next client or applicant.

As managing director, I have to be very organised to ensure the agency is running well and making enough money to cover staff salaries, promotional and administrative expenses, while being out with clients and at meetings. It's a balancing act between all the different sides of the work, so you need plenty of energy and stamina too.

What do you like best about being a managing director?

I love the variety and the challenge of my job. No two days are ever the same. I enjoy meeting such a wide range of people and reacting to their different personalities and ways of working.

It's also good to have the responsibility of running a company, seeing it grow and building a strong team of staff to work with at the same time.

Jane's route to her job as a managing director

  • Degree in English Literature
  • Moved to recruitment agency work as a consultant
  • Promoted to business director
  • Became a managing director

Jane's managing director tips

  • Try to get as much work experience in different types of jobs as you can
  • Get used to talking to customers, selling and working to sales targets

Managing director related jobs












  • Careers adviser
  • Company director
  • Human resources officer/manager
  • Recruitment/employment agency consultant
  • Sales manager
  • Training manager

Salary of a managing director

  • A chief executive officer/managing director's salary varies considerably from one company to another.
  • It depends very much on the type and size of the company, its location in the UK and the chief executive/managing director's qualifications and experiences.
  • In a recruitment agency, the manager or managing director can earn around £25,000 to £30,000 basic salary, plus 25 per cent commission or more on placing applicants in client's jobs.
  • In other types of business, a managing director can earn up to £100,000 or more.

How to become a managing director

  • Some managing directors work their way up to this position in their company, after working in one or more departments in a supervisory/management role.
  • Having a degree can lead to entry into many professions at a higher level and some companies run graduate trainee schemes. Useful degree subjects include business studies, finance or marketing.
  • The Chartered Management Institute offer Certificates and Diplomas in Management Levels 3, 4 and 5.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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