April 2018

Meet Jonathan Bean...Senior Partner at Drayton

"Now I have the freedom to talk to the very best people in an unrestricted market. That’s what gets me excited"

Our Meet the Team features continues, and we are pleased to share the fourth in the series. This time we get to know newly appointed Senior Partner Jonathan Bean. He recently sat down with friend of Drayton Chris Rickaby, and we learnt from his thoughts on Tosca’s D’Arte, to his continuing passion for the Procurement and Supply Chain function.

There’s a word Jonathan uses a lot. I’m not sure how aware of this verbal leitmotif he is. But, after talking to Drayton Partner’s newest recruit for an hour, or so, I get a clear sense that the search for it is the thing that’s driving him forward. And that word is ‘freedom.’ Jonathan, every inch a polished metropolitan man in both appearance and demeanour, started out life in grimmest Grimsby, ‘I was born there and that, along with family, of course, is the only real connection I have to the place.‘ Implying, in his tone, no lasting enmity for his gritty northern birthplace, only a practical acceptance that he and it were never destined to be perfect partners.

A lover of opera – his favourite piece being Vissa D’ Arte from Tosca – perhaps he realised early on that his hero, Giacomo Puccini, was never likely to have composed an aria set amongst the rusting cranes of the town’s Alexandra Dock.

‘I paid my dues, working teenage summers in the fish factory and packing boxes of crisps at KP. That was, in fact, my first taste of the supply chain in action. It prompted me to pursue my undergraduate degree in business at Southampton'.

This desire for ‘freedom,’ he uses the word again as we discuss his time at executive-search heavyweights, Korn Ferry, seems to also apply to how he approaches his profession. ‘Although a hugely professional company, Korn Ferry, as an organisation, was somewhat restrictive,’ he says. ‘There were things you were allowed to do and things you definitely weren’t. It felt at times that internal collaboration was often sacrificed in favour of individualism; that’s not how I like to work.’

As our discussion continues he warms to this theme of personal liberation.‘I have worked with clients all over the world…Sweden, USA, Argentina, Colombia …and for huge global companies like Unilever and AstraZeneca. Loved those opportunities. I have witnessed first-hand how functions are constantly evolving internationally.’

Acknowledging that recruitment is a strategic process, Jonathan revels in the opportunity to be lateral when he needs to be, especially in the creation of a short list. He likes, he says, to uncover ‘hidden’ or ‘leftfield’ talent.

‘When I joined Drayton Partners, I was confident I could take the best practice gained to date and apply it within an executive search business that is nimble and truly collaborative with its clients. I’m really enjoying the flexibility here. The freedom to talk to the very best people in an unrestricted market.’

‘Here, at Drayton, I’m unfettered, ’he continues – another word for freedom. ‘I get to work in the way that I believe is best to create optimum outcomes. My clients see the real benefits of that. Especially the ones in the areas where I have the deepest knowledge and expertise, like supply chain and procurement.’

As well as Korn Ferry, Bean’s career has taken him to another major name, specialist procurement and supply chain big hitters, Purcon, but he comes to Drayton after a brief sojourn in the Isle of Skye. Where, in just twelve months, along with his partner, he built up the best Trip Advisor reviewed bed and breakfast on the island from standing start. ‘It’s a bit of a cliché, he says.

‘Ditch the rat race, go to an island and find yourself. But in a way I did – even though the business went really well, I quickly discovered I wanted my old life back.’

So, freedom for Jonathan, it turns out, is all about a career meeting people, creating unique shortlists, solving challenging selections problems – hundreds of miles away from an idyllic Scottish island – in the midst of a vibrant and bustling metropolis.

With special thanks to Chris Ricabky, March 2018