From architecture to recruitment
Trained architect Carlos Afán de Ribera works as a Recruitment Managing Consultant, using his technical expertise to recruit roles in the construction, real estate and infrastructures sectors. Hear Carlos share his career journey and why he believes entrepreneurial spirit is key to succeeding in recruitment.
How did you get into recruitment?
I studied architecture at university but decided not to pursue it as a career option after graduating. Instead, I joined a design firm in Southern Spain, working in a sales and business development role. I loved having the opportunity to build relationships with international clients, but my role required frequent travel which made it difficult to achieve a good work-life balance. Moreover, I was not confident about a long-term career in this sector, so I decided to move to Madrid in search of a new opportunity.
I’d really enjoyed the relationship building and business development aspect of my previous job and was keen for that to be a key component in my next role. A few of my friends work in the recruitment industry, so I already had some insight into what the role of a recruitment consultant involved and it seemed like a great fit with what I was looking for.
What made Robert Walters the right choice for you?
Robert Walters has a strong reputation as a market leader in the recruitment of engineering and construction professionals. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to work with some exciting clients and combine the technical knowledge I’d gained through my university course with my practical experience of business development.
How did the company support your move into recruitment?
In the first six months of joining the company, I worked in a trainee role. At first, it did feel like a step back after working in industry; however, that early stage was really invaluable and I very quickly realised that recruitment was the right industry for me.
The things I’ve learnt in the past year at Robert Walters would have taken me three years to learn elsewhere.
During that initial period, I received a lot of support and training, in particular from my manager, so it didn’t take long for me to feel fully immersed in my role. While you have the support and training from your team, you’re quickly given the autonomy and opportunity to go out and develop your own way of working.
Recruitment is a fast-paced industry, so you’re always facing new challenges. As a result, you feel like you’re constantly learning and being stretched. The things I’ve learnt in the past year at Robert Walters would have taken me three years to learn elsewhere.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’m passionate about the industry I recruit in, so I find it incredibly exciting to work with industry-leading clients every day and to get an insight into how their businesses work. Working with recruitment consultancies is, traditionally, uncommon in the Spanish architecture and real estate space, so I really enjoy being able to show clients how my technical expertise as an architect and knowledge of recruitment trends to add value to their business. It’s a challenge, but it’s really rewarding to play a key role in strengthening Robert Walters’ presence in this growing market.
I also love having the opportunity to work with my clients at every stage of a project. It’s satisfying to start a new relationship with a client, get to know their business and then be able to help them expand their teams with the right talent. Similarly, it’s an amazing feeling to be able to help guide very experienced industry experts in finding a role that’s going to have a positive, long-term impact on their career.
How would you describe the culture in the Madrid office?
It’s a great office environment – the people are really friendly and genuinely want to support their colleagues. We’re always celebrating each other’s successes!
A lot of our staff are from outside Madrid so this really helps people to not only settle in their new role, but also the Madrid way of life.
I’d also describe the Madrid office as a very social place – every Thursday, we head to a local bar after office hours to unwind and we also hold regular socials to welcome new joiners and help them get to know their colleagues on a more personal level. A lot of our staff are from outside Madrid so this really helps people to not only settle in their new role, but also the Madrid way of life.
Despite the Madrid office being a real melting pot of experiences and backgrounds, I’ve found all of my colleagues share the same drive and commitment to excelling in their roles. As a result, we have a very motivated office environment - we spur each other on to be the best we possibly can.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in recruitment?
Recruitment offers a really dynamic and fast-paced career, but you can’t measure your success on just the quick-wins. Particularly in a tough market, long-term success comes from investing time in building strong relationships with candidates and clients and always looking for ways in which you can add value. For this reason, it’s important to have patience and to not get easily frustrated.
Having a commercial mind-set is also really key in this industry. At Robert Walters, you have the autonomy to develop your market so it’s a lot like running your own business - there are opportunities as well as risks, but if you’re driven and can recognise where to focus your effort and energy, there’s really no limit to what you can achieve.