Active interviews: Meet Robert Half's UK MD Matt Weston

By Robert Half on 18th November 2021

Active Interviews with Patrick McCubbin

Director of Senior Appointments, Patrick McCubbin is trying to get fit, but he needed some extra motivation – and what better way than to combine work with play? He has been getting active with some of our most exciting contacts to dig into their recent escapades and their approaches to life after lockdown.

So my series of active interviews continues… although my fitness doesn’t seem to be improving… yet!! 

Recruitment, like most businesses, is all about building relationships - and meeting with people outside of their normal work environment is a different way of getting to know them. I’ve been trying to get fit, so by combining exercise with interviews I thought I could have my (metaphorical) cake and eat it too. 

This week was a little bit different as I got to spend some great time with Matt Weston, our UK Managing Director.

I have worked with Matt for over ten years now and he is one of the most talented, energetic and humble people I have ever met. I always say this, but if you get a chance to work with or spend time with Matt then grab it with both hands!  

It was a real pleasure to ask him about how he has built his career, the pressures of being a Managing Director, what he thinks about the current employment markets and finally how he has continued to adapt and deliver record-breaking results for Robert Half over the last twenty years. 

Here’s what happened…

How would you describe Robert Half as a business in one sentence? 

World-class! A business where people come together as one team (#1UK) to thrive, connect and do great things for our clients and candidates while developing their careers.

What is your take on the current employment climate? 

We have never seen a market like this before. Permanent hiring led us through the recovery phase and we certainly are in a war for talent now! Whilst there have been challenges in temporary lines of business, like new legislation (IR35) and remote onboarding, we have seen it really ramp up in the back end of the year. I have been so surprised by the number of projects and scale-ups that have required multiple interim resources and teams. 

Help us out, what is the golden answer to flexible working? 

There’s no golden answer as each business is different but work is what we do, not where we do it. We need offices for collaboration, community (compassion, celebration and critical conversations), connection and creative ideation. I believe people should decide where they work best and that can either be the office or home - ultimately that is your own choice! Nothing is more exciting than seeing how the future of work develops - there will be many mistakes along the way but companies need to keep learning and evolving.

What were your biggest take always from the pandemic: personal and professional?

No amount of money will buy you a second of time so plan how you use it rather than rushing around. Be more strategic and deliberate in planning your schedule. I have also realised that health is wealth, so invest in yourself as a better ‘you’ will be a better performer, friend, colleague, son/daughter, father/mother and husband/wife – balance is everything.

If you could, what career advice would you give a young Matt Weston?

Always work hard, be humble and treat ALL people with respect. When something upsets you always take time to think and respond never react in the heat of the moment.

What traits do you think are key to succeeding in recruitment? 

  • Passion is everything - no passion, no point
  • Hard work is key
  • Have any insatiable appetite to find out about people and businesses 
  • Be coachable and always learn, school is never out for a pro!
  • Have fun and sense of humour 
  • Look at every knock-back as a learning lesson

Did you always have aspirations to be a Managing Director? 

In the early years this was just a job but after two or three years I really got into the industry and enjoyed recruitment. It was tough to start with but after the initial tough years, it got better and better because of the relationships I built. After performing at a high level individually, I wanted to run teams. Initially I thought leadership was what the role gave you but I soon realised that it’s what you can do for your people.

What is the hardest part of your current role? 

Managing my diary. I want to be at everything but that is not physically possible - I suffer really badly with FOMO!

You still love recruitment, when was the last time you managed some recruitment personally?

I’m getting involved with clients, candidates and supporting teams. I still love the job and want to remain current so I make sure I understand what the job is and the challenges people face every day. 

As a global top biller, how hard did you find it transitioning into a leadership role?

I struggled making the transition as the journey from independent achiever to interdependent collaborator is always a tough road to travel. I was so fortunate that I had great mentors and leaders who coached me through – hey helped me to be disciplined and focus on my new role, rather than try to do everything! 

How are Robert Half continuing to tackle inclusion and diversity? 

This is critical to the company globally – from partnering with and supporting the UK DEI Council and local Employee Network Groups (ENGs), to working with HR to drive forward inclusive policies and processes, including our own internal hiring. We also have some great strategic partnerships, for example with the AWS re/Start programme, which supports people from underrepresented and underemployed groups take their first steps in cloud computing. We have a lot going on, and these are just a few things!

What is the best TV programme you have watched recently? 

I have just started The Wire and I love it, but as a family we love Modern Family and Schitt’s Creek.

Can you recommend a book and a podcast?

I just read Think like a Monk [by Jay Shetty] and it was brilliant. It basically shows you how to find your purpose, overcome negativity and stop overthinking. Podcast-wise I love The High Performance Podcast with Jake Humphreys and Damian Hughes. We have done a bit of work with Damian and I’m a massive fan!

Finally… then I will leave you alone, what is your favourite quote and why?

I love a quote and have so many. One for our industry would be ‘you can’t have the rainbow without the rain’ (Dolly Parton) and a great one for Robert Half is ‘good times come and go but great people always remain’.

Matt Weston and Patrick McCubbin in sailing gear

We like to get to know the people we work with, and the ‘Robert Half Meets’ series means that you can get to know them too - keep an eye out for more on our advice page. If you’re interested in working with us, or watching Patrick sweat, you can find out more information about our services here, or contact Patrick directly on [email protected].

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