Co-founder Mike James explains how WeWhoDo started
We had a chat with Mike James, the Co-Founder of WeWhoDo, to see how he climbed to the top.
What was it like finding my first job?
Finding my first job was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things I can remember. Whilst technically my first job was a paperboy, followed by a car washer, sales assistant, gardener and pretty much anything that paid me quick cash - my first career role was with Barclays Wealth as a Junior Investment Analyst. This didn't come easily.
I found this job after temporarily putting University on hold following my second year, due to unforeseen illness. Venturing out into the Job market with no degree and no relevant experience, it was an uphill struggle.
After what felt like dozens of applications with no feedback, I began to feel like it was insurmountable. But then an interview came. It was pretty far down my original expectation of the job I was looking for, but it was an interview nonetheless. It gave me the much needed feedback and confidence that my CV had worked and furthermore the motivation to not accept a job which I didn't really want. I continued with my applications and eventually found someone willing to give me an interview at a job I wanted.
My enthusiasm must have shone through, as my experience definitely didn't! It was a job I loved. After two years I made a hard, but ultimately good, decision to return to and finish my degree - but it's still an experience which I believe has shaped me the most. Never give up!
How did the idea for WeWhoDo come about?
I’d been working in consulting for around six years and whilst I loved what I did, I reached a stage where I wanted to work on projects and companies which were inaccessible via the firm I worked for. I set about exploring the option of freelancing and in doing so decided to speak with as many freelancers as possible so I could get an idea for what it was really like.
Many I spoke to enjoyed the freedom, the higher pay and the access to exciting projects, however, they also craved community, more fluid opportunities and better access to learning and development. WeWhoDo came together with a mission that for consultants we could create a membership based consultancy which maintains the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, but combines it with the sense of community, support, and more regular access to opportunities.
I took the leap of faith and left my job in 2017 and started working as a freelancer operating under what is now the WeWhoDo brand. Saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, I quickly started to build a small informal network of freelancers and within a couple of months was introduced to a technical consultant, Russell Phillippe.
Russell, my eventual co-founder, had a similar route as myself (having started his career at one of the other big consultancy), but left a couple of years prior to successfully founding another mobile application startup. We started talking about what building a freelance based consultancy could look like and how we may be able to create a platform which enabled delivering the benefits to freelancers.
Why is it important for you to hire young people into WeWhoDo?
For us, hiring young people is key. This is increasingly relevant with our sustainability pledge and desire to build a better future for business. We know that young people will be the leaders of tomorrow and it is important to build that message from the bottom up in our business and it’s values.
We also believe that young people have fresh and exciting perspectives. This is useful in a start-up where we are constantly looking to innovate and try new things. We are also committed to developing and nurturing our talent, and believe giving young people is the best way to do this.
Is a university degree favoured for getting a role at WeWhoDo?
It is not essential to have a university degree to be considered for a role at WeWhoDo. However, what we do ask for is someone with confidence and a passion for what they do.
We want people who are excited to get stuck into work and have the drive to create new things and always thrive to do things better. Whether that’s working in a local shop whilst you’re at school, or leading your school business or team. We want people who have drive and creativity - and you don’t always need a university degree for that.
If you did go to university, we want to see that you’ve been involved in committees and taken work experience opportunities when they’ve come your way. We are keen to build a diverse team to represent our varied consultant base, and I am excited to see how we grow the WeWhoDo team.
How can someone impress you at a job interview?
There are three main things I look for at an interview. The first is research. Know the role you are applying for and the company details. You want to show you have a genuine interest in what they do.