A Warm Welcome to Panda International’s New Chairman!

January 2019: We have the pleasure to announce the appointment of Panda International’s new chairman. Stuart Batchelor brings Panda a new dose of energy, guaranteeing focus on becoming a world class Life Sciences Recruitment company!


Read more about his background and thoughts about Panda in our interview.

Tell us about your expertise and background?


My expertise; Driving Growth, Building Teams, Mergers & Acquisitions, International Expansion & Corporate Governance.

Until 2015 I had spent over 20 years in International Sales and Business leadership roles in large corporations in the technology, engineering & staffing sectors. Working with different companies enabled me to bring experience obtained in these large corporations, take parts of it and apply this successfully to the SME companies I now work with.

It is funny that I ended up in recruitment as for me, this was not the first industry that came to mind, even though it does make sense considering my career path: being a Hiring Manager for so many years made it easy to blend in. At the time, I had contact with many small (25-50 employees) recruiting companies with plans to grow or sell the business, which I helped achieve their goals.

What have been your greatest successes?


To have been part of and led teams that made significant contributions to the performance of the companies I have worked for. Specific examples would be building market leadership positions in new markets such as Nigeria and Kazakhstan. Growing businesses via the use of Joint Ventures in Russia and China, and securing major new clients such as ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Pfizer and others.


You can choose many recruitment companies, why Panda?


But firstly, tell us how you learned about Panda International? I was referred to Daisy & Jay by someone they met at an industry event whom knows me from some work we did together.

So, what was the decisive factor that made you choose Panda? I enjoyed my initial meetings with Daisy & Jay. I liked their passion, their energy, their vision and their success to date. I was pleased that they had the self-awareness to recognise that they would need some support along the way as they were still learning. As a non-executive, in my opinion you must feel confident that you can work with the founders and be aligned with their goals – I felt that from the very first meeting.


What are Panda’s greatest strengths?


Sector Focus, Specialisation, Location, Track record of service delivery.

It’s always better to have a reputation of doing something you are very good at, focusing on one specific sector (Life Sciences) offers a unique proposition to clients. Panda’s core fundamentals are in good shape as the main strength is the specialised focus on the specific job types and business sectors. Panda is truly specialised in Life Sciences: I enjoy working with specialised companies as they offer better value to their clients!

Panda has a great advantage in location, Amsterdam is a great place to work and where many talented people want to work. According to an article I read the other day about the Brexit, there are currently over 250 British companies talking to the Dutch government about moving their business to the Netherlands. Another important advantage of Amsterdam is that 30% is not taxed in the first years, making the location even more attractive for business!

The track record of Panda is really good: they do what they say they do. Panda has a reputation locally of doing something they are very good at: finding and retaining talent.

Anyone can do what we do (there is literally no entry barrier to recruitment), so we don’t expect loyalty, even in the Executive Search world. Panda differentiates itself by having a deep understanding to their client’s problems and how to solve it, which is exactly the reason why Panda has sticky clients: those that worked with Panda before, know that expectations will be met if they do business again, and the position will be filled!


What impact will you have on Panda’s future success?


My two goals are:

  • To support Daisy & Jay in maximising the growth opportunity they have created with Panda.
  • As Panda grows and faces new and different challenges and opportunities, coach Daisy & Jay so they have the necessary leadership and business skills.


And what exactly is required to complete the job?


Mostly you need grey hair (experience). People need to know what you did, this is where maturity is vital. The next thing you need to have a plan and execute well.

You need to realise that expectations are huge, and the growth definitions are always different. I believe that growth is growing quarter after a quarter.

Finally, once you hit a roadblock – and this will happen – you need to deal with that roadblock and support people through this situation.


In your experience, what makes an effective chair?


A non-exec Chairman is ultimately responsible for setting the ethos of the company, ensuring effective governance and overseeing the performance of the business. They should coach the CEO/Founders, set the board agenda and actively participate in operations. They should always be cognisant of the day-to-day boundaries between executive and non-executive responsibilities.


What is the smartest business decision you ever made?


No single decision stands out- What I have is the knowledge that I have continually ‘backed’ innovative & courageous people who are prepared to challenge themselves and their teams to bring about significant positive change in the companies I’ve worked at. A supportive attitude helps, and it’s fantastic to be in a constructive environment where people want to develop themselves.


What is your “Golden Rule”?


Do what you said you were going to do.

Commitment is important in business. You should do what you say you are going to do, and if you can’t: don’t make excuses but share reasons why it couldn’t happen.


What are you doing with your time when not driving growth in recruitment companies?


In a professional context, I am supporting companies in the engineering and technology sectors with their growth and exit plans. I also recently became involved in a start-up which is focused on creating a large group by acquiring UK Mechanical & Electrical contracting companies.

From a personal perspective, I have three Grandchildren whom I get to spend lots of time with, I’m a dog owner so taking long walks with the dog allows me some serious thinking and reflection time and finally I’m an avid music fan and like to go see my favourite bands when I can.


What are your dreams for the future?


I am not really a dreamer, but what I wish for the future personally and professionally:

  • I would like my family and friends to live healthy and happy lives
  • I’d like my clients to achieve their goals and dreams


And finally, what advice would you like to give our readers?


If you don’t enjoy what you do, go and try something else.

I wouldn’t have said this 10 years ago but: get as much out of the time you have on the planet. For our generation this is easier because employment is much more accessible or acceptable to make a career change. You’ve got to be happy with what you do!


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