Portsmouth recruitment firm is named one of the best employers in the UK: Carrington West plans major expansion

Ben Hitchman, Team Leader, Town Planning. Submitted pictureBen Hitchman, Team Leader, Town Planning. Submitted picture
Ben Hitchman, Team Leader, Town Planning. Submitted picture
“I have given a lot to the company, but when everything was falling apart, they were there to support me…” A look at life inside Carrington West in Portsmouth, one of the UK’s best places to work

Helping people through some of the darkest personal moments of their lives; Providing the inspiration for staff to nurture them towards record-breaking performance; And providing the support, training and development for those who have turned to them to seek a major change in careers.

All of this is business as usual in a typical day at Carrington West where staff enthuse about the ‘support and love’ shown to them by the recruitment firm at its home in Lakeside North Harbour, Portsmouth.

It is a place where nothing is too much trouble, dreams are there to be achieved and a culture exists where good people thrive. It is more of a family than a workplace.

Kent Streek, Department Manager, Building & Utilities. Submitted pictureKent Streek, Department Manager, Building & Utilities. Submitted picture
Kent Streek, Department Manager, Building & Utilities. Submitted picture

And these are just some of the reasons why this year it was named by The Sunday Times as one of the best places to work in the UK.

Going from strength to strength

Having started life in 2011, Carrington West has grown to 100 employees and a £75m turnover, and is looking to expand further over the next few years.

It made it into the top ten for medium-sized businesses in the prestigious Sunday Times list, which has long-been considered a definitive guide to the best employers across the country. The rankings are based on an anonymous survey of employees covering a series of areas, including overall happiness, feeling valued and supported and provided with opportunities for growth.

Jack James, Principal Consultant, Telecoms. Submitted pictureJack James, Principal Consultant, Telecoms. Submitted picture
Jack James, Principal Consultant, Telecoms. Submitted picture

Here are the thoughts of some Carrington West staff on why they believe their company is one of the best places to work.

Ben Hitchman, Team Leader, Town Planning

Ben joined Carrington West six years ago as a consultant and has been promoted through the ranks to become one of the company’s most successful contract recruiters. Before joining he had a nine-year career with Sussex Police.

Ben said: “The reason for the major career change was to create a better work-life blend for me and my young family. Although nervous and apprehensive at the start, Carrington West provided me with great training. But the most important thing that I remembered was the support that I received – nothing was too much trouble and no matter how many questions I had, there was always someone able and willing to answer and/or coach me.”

Ella Razzell, Compliance Manager. Submitted pictureElla Razzell, Compliance Manager. Submitted picture
Ella Razzell, Compliance Manager. Submitted picture

He added: “When I joined, I did not expect to get promoted three times in just over six years. But I realised that when I set a goal and really worked to achieve it – however hard or difficult it may seem – it was certainly achievable at Carrington West. It has been a life-changing decision to join such a great company and allows me to get the work-life blend that I set out to achieve, as well as providing financial stability for my family.”

Kent Streek, Department Manager, Building & Utilities

Kent has been with Carrington West for eight years and has been an integral part of the company’s growth, having been promoted from consultant to department manager. In late 2022, his partner Kirsty passed away after battling a long illness and he will never forget the support he had from the company and his colleagues.

Kent said: “Carrington West was excellent. You never know how you will get through such a horrible time and having support from the company you work for, when it’s going to be difficult for them too, is something you feel guilty about.

Natasha Jones, Senior Consultant, Highways. Submitted pictureNatasha Jones, Senior Consultant, Highways. Submitted picture
Natasha Jones, Senior Consultant, Highways. Submitted picture

“They never made me feel bad and their support ensured a lot of pressure was taken off me. This support included people to speak to, that I felt I could be honest with and would listen to how I was feeling at difficult times. I was given flexibility of hours and home working to ensure I could be by Kirsty’s side as often as possible while keeping my foot in the door at work. The senior management team was always there if I needed them.”

Kent said this backing allowed him the time to do the things he and Kirsty wanted to do in the time they had left, with colleagues even rallying around to organise a spa day for the couple.

“It was a day I won’t forget and comes from the culture that has been built at Carrington West. This made me feel very loved. I have given a lot to the company over the years and felt, when everything was falling apart, they were all there to support me,’ said Kent.

“This made me feel like I could be the best version of myself for Kirsty. Without this I would have found it even more difficult than it was and I will forever be thankful.”

After Kirsty had passed away, Kent wanted to return to work as soon as he could to keep himself busy and fulfil Kirsty’s wish ‘to keep going and have the best life I could’. Kent was given the opportunity to return at his own pace and the space if he needed to take time out.

And when Kent set up a charity in Kirsty’s name, his team signed up to complete a gruelling 18km Tough Mudder race in May.

“I was so humbled. It showed how strong the support was towards the situation and the love everyone here has for each other. I can only think this is due to the opportunities we are given to build good working relationships and due to the values the company has installed to ensure good people work at Carrington West,” he said.

Jack James, Principal Consultant, Telecoms

Jack joined Carrington West after working for many years as a teaching assistant and is now the company’s most successful consultant working on permanent recruitment. By dedicating himself to learning and development he has broken every company record, including being the first person to have been promoted every year since joining.

Jack said: “I have always been told I should work in sales because I love speaking to people! When an opportunity to work in recruitment came up, I jumped at it and it was the best thing I have ever done. I love building relationships and networking, but also I love helping people get new jobs. I know what it was like to want to change jobs and I love that I get to help.

“Carrington West made me feel welcome straight away. The training is excellent and I was helped to understand the recruitment process thoroughly, with a lot of support from everyone around me.”

Jack said he did not expect to become a recruitment record-breaker: “I still pinch myself every day. Everyone has things they are stronger at and it is about developing your skills, which I have been able to do. I have been made to feel very valued and as a result now have a senior position and need to share what I have learnt with those coming into the business.”

Ella Razzell, Compliance Manager

Ella set up Carrington West’s compliance team in 2015 and it is now 10 strong. While growing, training and managing the team, Ella was also trying to start a family.

Ella said: “Both my children were conceived via IVF, which is one of the hardest battles my husband and I have ever had to face. I did not disclose my struggle with the business at the time I was undertaking treatment as the business was small, not many people had children and I didn’t want to speak about it publicly.

“After I went through it all I did speak to my managers and team and they have been nothing but supportive. The passion to learn and support any further fertility treatment either by myself or anyone else in the business is heart-warming, and the drive to be a supportive inclusive employer is evident. Throughout my pregnancies Carrington West was understanding and genuinely caring. Having Carrington West on my side throughout such a gruelling process and then the rollercoaster of pregnancy had made me feel supported and valued.”

Ella admitted that as her maternity leave came to a close, she considered being a stay-at-home mum. But she wanted to continue her career with the team she had built and to be someone her children would look up to as a good mother with a good career. She said the flexibility Carrington West allows her to juggle both meant she was free to be “the best version of myself”.

“I knew that the culture and family feel of Carrington West would support me upon my return and that any challenges I would face as a parent in the workplace would give us an opportunity to learn and grow as a company,” she added.

Natasha Jones, Senior Consultant, Highways

Natasha has been with Carrington West for almost three years. In 2022 she found herself on a ‘mental and physical rollercoaster’ after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The lifelong gastrointestinal disease severely affected Natasha’s ability to live a normal life.

Natasha said: “Planning is a huge part of the role of a recruitment consultant but it was really difficult to focus on work and plan my week during my diagnosis as I was not aware of when I would be having a tough and painful day. When the pain was unbearable Carrington West gave me the flexibility to take a break away from my desk no matter what time of day it was and to go home whenever I needed too. They were also completely understanding of any last-minute or planned hospital appointments.

“My team leader and director reassured me my health was their number one priority and I should put work to the side when necessary. This made me feel extremely valued as an employee and I couldn’t have asked for better support through the whole process.It made me feel understood and not on my own.”

Eight months of steroid medication did not ease Natasha’s symptoms and she was told the best course of action was surgery. Despite feeling “anxious and frightened” her team and managers continued to rally round before and after the operation.

“My experience being diagnosed with a lifelong condition while working and living a normal everyday life would have been so much harder without the support from Carrington West, I am very grateful with how my company supported me and continues to support me with understanding my health issues,” she said.

Find out more about working with Carrington West at https://www.carringtonwest.com