Interview with Rod Flavell, founder and CEO of FDM Group

FDM CEO Founder
  • FDM Group is a global leader in the recruit, train, deploy sector.
  • The professional services company is headquartered in London, with offices in Leeds, Glasgow, Brighton, New York City, Toronto, Reston, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and China.
  • Since its foundation in 1991, the company has grown to nearly 4000 consultants.



 CEO, Rod Flavell discusses FDM Group and the impact of the Coronavirus on the company.



How Was FDM Founded?


Rod Flavell. It all started thirty years ago, in September 1990. I’d been working in technology publishing in London, and then I’d moved into consulting down on the South coast. After about ten years of doing my apprenticeship, I decided to start my own business for no other reason than wanting to work for myself. I felt that I’d learnt enough about the industry, so I started a small IT recruitment agency with my two partners, and that’s how FDM was born. 


What Are The Company’s Values?


We’re very proud that our business is a leading light in social inclusion. We were, from the start, two males and two females. 50% of the management team is female. We don’t see the colour of a person’s skin or their religion or their gender. For us, it’s about the right people, bright people, and creating opportunities for them in our business. I think the same goes for the heart of the company. 


How Does FDM Work with Clients? How is This Unique?


I think we pioneered what we call recruit, train and deploy. We were one of the first organisations to fund training for entry-level technology graduates, ex-military and women who have taken a career break. We’d fund training in modern technology for up to 16 weeks before taking them on as full-time members of staff and deploying them out into the market. We’ve always been a British company that’s at the forefront of programming and development.

Today we are providing development, business analysis programs and project management to 400 clients worldwide. We’re a public company with a 1.2 billion market cap and 20 centres around the world. It’s an all-organic story. Everything we do is on-shore, and I think that’s why FDM succeeds and provides something that customers want and need in a very crowded market place. 


What are your Plans For Growth?


Growth for us is something that we’ve succeeded in achieving every year we’ve been in business.  I’m expecting FDM to grow this year. There’s currently around 4000 FDM consultants in the field and we’re looking to grow that again substantially this year. In North America and despite the Coronavirus our APAC business in growing strongly in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. 


What Challenges Have you Faced?


I’ve never encountered anything like the Coronavirus situation that’s ongoing. We fought our way through the troubles in Hong Kong this year, despite the protests. But of course, with the Coronavirus and the enforced quarantined for 14 days, this has been something completely new. 

The financial crisis was a challenge, but at least you knew where you were in that situation. The problem now is we don’t know whether we might come to work tomorrow and not have access to our building because it’s been quarantined. For the first time, we’ve realised that we’ve got to plan for an entire city closing down. It’s going to be challenging for all businesses out there. Hopefully, when we get passed the middle of march, with warmer weather, we will see the back of that.


How are you dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus?


So far we’ve managed to deal with it. Our APAC business is still growing in spite of the challenge and impact of the virus to our clients. We had one client who had shut a floor in Singapore and send 300 people home for 14 days. We’re following the World Health Organisation’s advice into how to limit the spread of the virus. We’re having to restrict and control travel, as any sensible organisation would. We’re not allowing our consultants to go on-site where there are cases of Coronavirus because they’ll have to go into quarantine.

We’re vigilant at the moment, and so far all things are okay. We have had our Shanghai office shut down and quarantined for a month, but they will be allowed back into their facility next week. These are the situations that are sent to test us. This has been without doubt one of the strangest and most interesting challenges we’ve faced.