Jeremy Tiffin

Forty Under 40 winner 2014:  CEO, Horizon Recruitment, Age 38

Sometimes even the most high-powered careers can get their start in the most inauspicious ways.

For Jeremy Tiffin, it was a friendly game of hockey that got him involved in the recruiting industry and led to him building a company that went from zero to $7 million in annual sales in a little more than seven years.

“I had a buddy of mine who went to [the British Columbia Institute of Technology] with me who got hired by one of the world’s largest recruitment firms,” said Tiffin, adding his friend offered to take Tiffin’s resumé to his employer. One interview later, Tiffin was on his way to becoming a recruiter.

“I kind of happened into the industry,” he said. “It would be an anomaly for most people to do otherwise.”

That doesn’t mean that Tiffin is casual about whom he hires to his team or whom he places on his clients’ teams.

“One of my most important jobs is determining who is and who is not on my team, because that is of utmost importance to our organization, to our growth and delivering on what we say [to our clients].”

Tiffin, whose Burnaby-based Horizon Recruiting Inc. now has 13 full-time employees, says personally supervising the hiring for his own firm is critical if he is going to hire for his clients, who include BC Hydro, ICBC and Seaspan Corp. (Nasdaq:SSW).

“In the recruitment business, if you aren’t making hiring decisions yourself, I don’t know how you can have a full appreciation of what it means to have your customer hiring someone from you.” 

Tiffin says in hiring for his own firm and for his clients, he ranks character above competency.

“Competency needs to be there, but that person doesn’t necessarily need all the skills right from Day 1,” he said. “I care about who the person is, what is their character, what is their ability to follow through on what they say and what they are like to work with.”

He says another quality he looks for is commitment and passion. “If I am going to be bringing somebody on and I am going to invest the time and effort to bring them up to speed, and introduce them to our clients, if they don’t have a long-term view, then that is not congruent with our values.”