Champagne and razor blades: A Q&A with Joe Kennedy, Practice Lead

With the company growing at an exponential rate, we’re talking to some of our current employees to find out what working at i-Pharm is like behind the scenes, top tips on becoming a successful recruiter and why you should join our journey. Reach out to us for more information on our current vacancies!

January 2023

Champagne and razor blades: A Q&A with Joe Kennedy, Practice Lead

How long have you worked at i-Pharm Consulting and what are the main responsibilities of your role?

I started here at i-Pharm just over one year ago now, and I came in to head up the Operations and Manufacturing Division as it wasn't something that i-Pharm focused on much in Sydney. With a focus on the Tech Ops and Engineering space, we now predominantly place mid to senior level people in Operations and Manufacturing roles.


Tell us a bit about your Functional Specialism

I do a mix between Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Biotech, so I’m not pigeonholed to one area, and I cover the whole of Australia. Most of my work has all been in Sydney and Melbourne across animal health companies and medium to large sized Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies. In terms of the Business Development side, I’ve been recently focusing on start-ups that have been around for a year or two and that have received a lot of funding and are looking to grow.


How did you get to where you are now?

If you started a career in recruitment ten years ago, it was most likely because you fell into it. It's not something you plan for. I left university and got a job in recruitment straight away. I only lasted like six months in that job as I decided to leave recruitment and get into a business development focused role, where I was working for one of the biggest image licensing agencies. I then got back into recruitment and started placing professionals into permanent roles across the creative industry. My cousin was working in Australia at the time and posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in a job in Australia. I saw it and thought, well yeah, maybe. I spoke to my wife, and we eventually decided to move there. So, we did just that in 2015.

I completely changed sector and ended up in the medical space. I was recruiting for doctors and I did that in Australia for six years. Although I was billing well, I wanted something different because it was very much high transaction, temporary recruitment and I felt like my skill set was best suited to permanent recruitment, as I like building long-lasting relationships with people. I then saw a post from i-Pharm and decided to give them a call to learn more about the company. I never knew that Pharmaceutical or Medical Device recruitment was a thing. A couple of days later I received a job offer and that was it. I started during the lockdown and have been enjoying it ever since.


What do you think makes your team a success?

Although I joined as an experienced recruiter, I joined a brand-new industry and so I had many questions. Having started during lockdown, I was working fully remotely for two months prior to meeting the team. However, everyone was on hand any time I needed something or had a question. My colleagues were passing me jobs from day one because no one had ever focused on Operations and Manufacturing roles before.

You learn a lot in recruitment, and you build up a lot of self-confidence and a really thick skin too.

What have been your proudest achievements, individually and as a team?

Individually, I’d say that I've come in and hit the ground running. I received my first offer and acceptance in week three from starting. However, that candidate ended up accepting a counteroffer and stayed where they were. The week after I found someone else who accepted and started the role. I think that was the second fastest deal that had ever been done at i-Pharm. Getting off the mark quickly was probably one of my proudest moments. Another achievement is that I qualified for our team incentive trip to Melbourne as I was the third Top Biller here in Australia within my first quarter with the business.

As a team, the biggest achievement that we've had since I've been here was smashing our target as an office for the first quarter this year. We all got to visit Queenstown to go skiing. It's been great to be part of it. The vibe and buzz in the office is amazing.


What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

I’m a qualified master scuba diver. I got that qualification three years ago after I moved to Australia. I did lots of deep diving and managed to get my master's certificate. If anybody in the office wants to go diving, then I'm qualified to basically take them!


What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t in recruitment?

I mean, every boy's dream job is to become a professional footballer and that was always the dream growing up. I also wanted to join the Royal Air Force. That was also my dream job growing up, to fly planes. Now I’m absolutely terrified of flying but if I got rid of that fear then that would be my dream job.


If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

I would say my grandad as apparently, he was an amazing guy and I only got to meet him when I was a baby. I never got to see him after that as he passed away so I would love to go back in time and meet him. If I was to meet someone famous then it would definitely be Cristiano Ronaldo, because he's the best player in the world and he comes across like a really humble bloke. I think he would be a good person to give you some good advice about how to be successful, whether it be in your career, in football or anything else. It would be amazing to learn from someone who became the best in the world at something and to listen to them tell you about their mentality.


What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into recruitment?

I would say you should see it as a career. The recruitment industry has changed a lot since I started doing it. Back then, people would just fall into it because you can earn really good money. Although you can make good money, it should also be seen as a place where you can build a long-term career. There are many different things you can do in recruitment. You can start as a trainee consultant and then transition into business development roles if you don't really like speaking to candidates. Alternatively, if speaking to clients isn’t what you enjoy, you can get into resourcing. If you want to manage a team, then there's ways to do that. Once you get to a certain level, you can also become an internal recruiter.

You learn a lot in recruitment, and you build up a lot of self-confidence and a really thick skin too. It’s definitely a career I’m glad I chose. Sometimes, I go home and just want to pull my hair out and I don't ever want to come back and do it again. The expression that we have in recruitment is that it’s champagne and razor blades because you experience so many different emotions. You have to look at recruitment in a long-term view because you will enjoy it. It'll be hard. You're going to have moments where you're pulling your hair out, but the benefits outweigh the cons. So just keep at it basically.


Check out our Careers Site for more information on life at i-Pharm.