Inspirational Woman: Farida Gibbs | CEO , Gibbs S3

Farida GibbsGibbs S3, also known as GS3, is a privately held, certified woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) founded in 2005 by CEO Farida Gibbs. Headquartered in Surrey, Gibbs S3 is an international provider of IT Staffing, IT Consulting and IT Resource Solutions in the UK, with operations in the US and Europe. Gibbs S3 is a tier 1 supplier to FTSE100 clients and according to Staffing Industry Analyst S3 is ranked 7th largest global diversity firm. A corporate member of MSDUK council (minority supplier development council UK) and finalists for the Fast Growth Business Awards 2011.

Farida began her career more than 15 years ago and has extensive experience in the Banking & Finance, Insurance/Reinsurance, Energy & Utilities and Retail Industries.

Farida’s passion is to deliver and exceed customer expectations. Her inspiring career and rise to the top has led her to direct the UK’s efforts and become one of the fastest growing IT staffing providers. Her partnership with S3, has seen the global business post $205 million in sales revenues for 2010, of which the UK arm saw an incredible 500% growth in 12 months.

Gibbs S3 has an international footprint serving the UK, Europe and US with branch locations in Surrey (HQ), London and Cheshire, which also services customers in Edinburgh, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland.  We were fortunate enough to meet with Farida in her busy schedule, although she was more than happy to spare the time, to find out more about her.

How did you end up in the world of IT Recruitment?

Like most people in IT recruitment, I “fell” into it! Except my motivations for staying in this forever changing industry was very different than others. I graduated from University in business management and wanted to pursue a career in H.R.  Whilst studying full time and working a 50 hour week at one of the world’s largest teleservices/callcentre businesses I learnt so much about the staffing world – planning, customer services, scheduling, resource solutions etc. After graduation the company I worked for announced redundancies so I decided to accept a role with one of their competitors as an Operations HR Manager. 13 months into the role I realised I would never pay off my students debts! Not in my life time! My Sister, who worked for a global recruitment firm suggested I jump on the other side of the fence and take up a recruitment role, earn commission pay off my debts and go back into my planned HR career. A good idea but in order to do that I had to take a 50 % paycut! The commission plans were good and I had no doubt in my capabilities that I could become a top salesperson. Forward the clocks 10 years and I am very proud to be CEO for Gibbs S3, a global provider of IT Staffing, IT Consulting and reSourcing Solutions, a certified woman-owned business, 500% growth in 2010, offices in Surrey, London and Cheshire, and number 1 supplier to the 3rd largest bank in the world.

The City never ‘sleeps’ and will always be open to those who are top players in their field.

What are your predictions for the job market in the City , will we see a shortage of roles ?

I’ve been doing this job for over 10 years, and the answer to that question is simple, it’s “cyclical”. The London financial markets will always be busy, but it will also go through some turbulent times depending on the stock markets and institutional decisions on taxes, rates and so on. The City never ‘sleeps’ and will always be open to those who are top players in their field. Sometimes roles will land in peoples laps, and sometime people may just have to look a little harder than usual. I don’t see a shortage of roles, just a shortage of good talent, and believe me, there is plenty of good talent out there, some people just don’t realise how good they really are. When the market moves it sure does move! I love it when I hear people are getting multiple offers on the table, and I don’t worry too much when there is a shortage of roles. It’s a temporary ‘pause’. Businesses need to breath, reassess, evaluate their operations, budget, and headcounts and when they are ready… the pause button comes off and it’s business as usual.

What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

Life is full of challenges, and I’ve come across many challenges in my career! I’ve overcome them by simply remaining positive, focussed, not allowing my emotions to interfere with my passions. I guess the challenges which are more apparent or stick out like a sore thumb was working in a very male dominated environment particularly in the areas of investment banking and most of all juggling motherhood whilst building a growing business with very little support around me. But I did it, and haven’t looked back since J

Being a good role model/mother is vital to me

What is the best and worst thing about being the boss of your own company?

Best thing about being boss of my own company is the flexibility I have so that I can spend quality time with my two daughters and my husband. Making sure I am there for them all the time. Being a good role model/mother is vital to me, especially when they need me during their influential years. The other best things are; being able to implement my ideas for the business, watch the visions I had for the business become reality, hire a team I believe in and more importantly have fun along the way.

Worst thing about being boss of my own company is pretty simple to answer, I never switch off!

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I guess not mixing my emotions with my passion. For example, not getting emotional about matters out of my control but I’ve learnt the hard way and I now know how to handle situations I’m faced with if I run into challenges, difficult people etc. Stay true to yourself and follow your heart. If you honestly believe something is right, then it probably is.

We hear you are passionate about Corporate Responsibility, tell us a little more about how GibbsS3 is working with the community?

I am very passionate about social responsibility! I love helping others. If corporate responsibility can play a bigger part then great. I love helping young children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I guess when I look at my upbringing and didn’t have the latest pair of trainers or new gear that was in fashion but what I did have was respect for my family, for people around me and most of all for my mother and father. When I look at society today, I ask myself “what’s happened”. I truly believe that more work is needed with our next generation and the children at our primary schools because those are the ages we ‘can’ influence before it’s too late. I have just started working with a school in North London which I visited just before the summer holidays and was stunned at what I saw. I left upset and determined to make a difference. I am working with the school and together we have ideas to make the school a better environment for the young children, more equipment for playtime like footballs, goal posts, skipping ropes and hula hoops for girls. The thing I’m most excited about is a Programme to teach young kids about reward and recognition for good behaviour, respect, attitude, determination which can lead to success. Gibbs S3 will look to reward the children with the latest pair of trainers, bikes, games consoles, computer games etc. I just cannot wait to get stuck in!

What tips or advice can you offer with WeAreTheCity members?

Be true to yourself, follow your gut instinct, take a leap of faith, help others, keep your chin up and always keep smiling no matter what.

What do you put Gibbs S3’s success down to?

I cannot take all the credit for the company’s success, and must pay a huge tribute to my wonderful Sister who took a leap of faith from her very successful career to join me and take the company forward. She shared the same visions, philosophies and passions as I did. My brother too who left his role as a Technical Break Fix Engineer to start up a Desk finding the best IT talent for some key clients and also to my husband who started our Professional Services team and added a new dimension to the business that now offers our clients an alternative solution in Technology reSourcing.

I’d like to finish off by thanking my wonderful team at Gibbs S3 for making it the successful company it is today. Without them the company would not be where it is today. Thank you truly

UPDATE: 05/10/2011

Gibbs S3, one of our recently Certified women owned businesses, and a UK based global IT Staffing, IT Consulting & Technology resourcing business, triumphed this week at the prestigious Fast Growth Business Awards 2011, walking away with the coveted Family Business of the Year Award title.

The gala awards ceremony, organised by and sponsored by NatWest, took place on Tuesday 4 October, at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London. Committed to recognising pioneering businesses; those which demonstrate significant growth and entrepreneurial flair, the esteemed awards celebrated the UK’s most outstanding companies and the people running them.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to pick up the award at the Fast Growth Business Awards. It was a great night and the team and I were delighted when Gibbs S3 was announced as winners of the Family Business of the Year category,” said Farida Gibbs, CEO of Gibbs S3. “We’re really pleased that Gibbs S3 has been recognised for its family focused culture, putting ethical principles before profits and ensuring the customer always comes first, which are some of our key values. I sincerely believe due to this we have won great respect from our existing and prospective clients which steered our dramatic growth over the 12 months. It’s been a great year for us expanding the team and opening a second office in the North West. We have also just been awarded 2 significant new Contracts with major global FTSE100 clients across a number of new sectors which was one of our main objectives for 2011… and now we’re really looking forward to 2012!”

Gibbs S3 is Europe’s fastest growing IT Staffing, IT Consulting and Technology reSourcing business achieving 464% growth in 2010 by providing a reliable and innovative service to its clients that delivers what they need and saves them money. Gibbs S3 is a supplier to a number of FTSE 100 customers providing a full range of services, from IT professional contract and permanents staffing, to direct hire support, flexible resourcing and managed services.

For more details

You can find out more about Gibbs S3 here

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