Harry Portch, former BTEC Business student at The Henley College and founder of HM Staffing, was recently named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Thames Valley & South West Business and Community Awards.
Harry, who is from Henley, set up HM Staffing at the end of 2018, making him the UK’s youngest recruitment agency founder. HM Staffing is based in Reading with a further office recently opened in Manchester. The team recruit for office roles for companies ranging from local SMEs to FTSE 100 businesses. Harry also hosts his own podcast, The Spike, which has featured on the Apple Business Top 100 and Entrepreneurship Top 20. The podcast features interviews with successful business owners and leaders who talk about what makes them stand out, or as Harry puts it, their “spike”.
Speaking about his plans for the future Harry said:
“The plan is to open more sites across the UK and, who knows, maybe in Europe. The goal is very much to become the fastest-growing recruitment agency in the UK.”
Harry studied Btec Business at The Henley College and speaks of how his first impression was “that the college cared for their students past their final grade.”
When asked about his time at the College, Harry said:
“The teachers really took the time to get to know me and understand what I wanted to achieve.
I was never the most academic person, but The Henley College supported me and massively helped bring my personality and other strengths through.
My favourite memory of my time there, was when we did a fundraising project for Sue Ryder, and we put a quiz and raffle on. This taught me some excellent negotiating skills when speaking to different venues as well as networking skills. A close second is the various guest speakers we had come into lessons.
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left college. I worked in London for a short stint in PR but realised that it wasn't suitable for me. Then I reached out to my old teacher, Clare Forgie, who gave me some career advice that landed me in recruitment. I kept in contact with Clare during my time in my previous role and she gave me some great advice which has led me to be in the position to set up my business. If it weren't for my chats with Clare, I wouldn't be where I am today in business.
The College shaped me into the person I am today, hands down, from what I learnt to the people I met. Even after I left I've managed to keep a great relationship with the College, coming back to help with mock interviews for Business Level 2 students, industrial placements, and hopefully much more in the future.
I still think that without going to The Henley College, I wouldn't have won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award or be in the position I am today.
My advice to students deciding on their next steps is to study something they have an interest in and that university is not the only option. There are some great apprenticeships and entry-level jobs that can kick start your career!”