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Member Series: Lynda Barnes - 360 Search

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Founded in 2010, 360 Search is an industry-leading financial services recruitment consultancy. With a dedicated team of highly skilled consultants, who bring a tailored and collaborative approach to the recruitment process.

As part of our Members Series, we spoke with Lynda Barnes, Co-Founder and Director at 360 Search, to understand more about her background, her decision to set-up 360, and why she felt Iconic was the right fit for her and her team. Each of our workspaces are unique in design and offering, Lynda and her team are based at The Garrison on Leeson Street, a Georgian building that was lovingly restored into a premium and professional workspace, one that Lynda felt reflected her business’ standards.

Tell us a little about 360 Search?

360 Search Ltd is a leading talent and recruitment consultancy, set up in 2010. We specialise in general insurance, life and pensions, asset management, accountancy and finance, compliance and risk markets.

Before 360 Search, what did you do?

My first job in the corporate world was in insurance. While changing roles, I became interested in my recruiters, the skills they developed and the processes they followed. So, I pivoted and applied for a technical insurance and reinsurance recruitment role. At the time, the insurance and reinsurance markets were not well serviced. Most firms only had light insurance acumen on board to ‘get by’. No one dominated the space.

When did you first become interested in setting up your own business?

During my own job search, I met with several different firms, and I felt there was a real need for a candidate-led offering. I thought that a new brand with a deeper knowledge of the space could really stand out from the other players. And so, 360 Search was born! At other firms I had worked at, revenue was everything. I wanted to create something different, where candidates get professional guidance, not just a new job – something I really needed when looking for new insurance roles. As a firm, we follow our candidates’ directions according to their needs, rather than blindly following the companies that pay our fees.

How does 360 differ from other recruitment companies?

360 Search’s ethos is to provide strong, credible and workable advice to our candidates and clients. To make this possible, we chose to build a team from the actual industries we serve. Our insurance team are ex-insurance people. Our life and pensions team are all QFA qualified. Our accountancy and finance lead is an ex-banker. We believe this adds an extra level of gravitas to the 360 brand.

What was it about The Garrison (Iconic Offices) that felt like the right fit?

The outward-facing look of any business should mirror its standards. We work in corporate markets, and we are a big-personality business. The Garrison is really well-appointed. The finishes are all high quality. It has a contemporary yet polished feel to the space.

What is the greatest benefit of working at The Garrison for your business?

The Iconic portfolio is extensive in terms of location, styles and costs. As we grew, we were afforded the option to scale our offices. However, during Covid, we were able to downsize our office space, which kept costs in line and allowed us to trade profitably in a safe working environment.

What was your greatest challenge when setting up your own business?

Our biggest challenge was getting the team right. Our business is fast-paced, so we have to be too. Finding similarly driven key players was the priority. Bringing in colleagues that shared the vision, were not scared of it, wanted to do better and wanted more for themselves was also paramount. Being part of a start-up means everyone is accountable and there is nowhere to hide. Without the team, you are just a sole trader with ambition. Another important trait is having faith that your hard work will pay off.

What do you like most about the freedom of being your own boss?

I am not sure that I’d call it ‘freedom’. I’d say ‘flexibility’ is more suitable. You always have a duty of care to your team, your Co-Directors, investors and so on, but there is a level of flexibility afforded to you as a proprietor, for sure.

How big is the team at 360?

Three years ago, we went through an MBO to enable us to capitalise our business. Shortly after the MBO, we met Recruitment Entrepreneur (RE). RE is the brainchild of James Caan CBE. It’s a vast recruitment entity with a turnover of €50 million STG and growing all the time. Today, we have our Dublin team, an office in Liverpool and the wider RE Executive Team in London. James Caan CBE sits as the Chairman of 360 Search.

Has business been affected by the pandemic?

Being a boutique firm, albeit with significant backing from RE, we were well insulated and supported during Covid’s various challenges. While our market slowed for obvious reasons, we still had many critical hires to complete due to Brexit. Market trends showed a significant level of interest within the intermediary markets with proprietors looking to exit, merge or partner. To support this activity, we set up a new side of our business, the confidential 360 M&A Intro service, which helped clients explore these options. Also, our client firms needed to navigate their pension and investment clients through these unchartered Covid waters. As a result, there was an ongoing requirement for advisors and pensions consultants. General insurance markets had challenges that required claims and underwriting talent.

Personally, I spoke with so many clients who had a totally different Covid experience – people who had lost family or suffered other hardships. I think we have all become more humble and kinder to others because of the pandemic.

What’s next for 360 Search?

While we’re still growing our Dublin office, our next focus is on UK markets. We believe that further expansion into London’s insurance markets is a must for us, and we’ve got Holly Railes leading the charge. We’ve also started a mentorship program for International Women’s Day. It’s called Mentor Me at 360. Each year we mentor a female insurance graduate from DIT Sligo. This involves CV preparation, interview technique, building networks, LinkedIn and general coaching. It’s everything you need to get your insurance career underway.

Finally, as Covid finally goes away, addressing the backlog in strategic hiring will keep us very busy. As we continue to develop as a business, we look forward to working alongside the Iconic Community Team.

Looking to find your unique workspace?

There’s no one size fits all solution when it come to finding workspace. That’s why at Iconic Offices we create a flexible workspace contract that’s unique to your business. If you want to chat to one of our workspace specialist to learn more, enter your details below and a member from the team will reach out.


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