Interview with our CEO


So, what’s it like starting up a new search business?

It goes without saying that it’s hard work, but more than that I believe it’s about having the humility to learn from your mistakes and move beyond your own comfort zone. Nobody will ever get it right first time and what has worked in more established businesses will often not translate into a start-up. It’s been a fantastic experience so far but we’re only at the beginning. 2020 is our year of growing, and growing up. I personally love being able to shape the way we work with our clients, by listening to clients and candidates and building on the depth of colleague insight we have. Being able to shape the culture is really exciting too, and is one of the reasons we have been able to get a strong team together.

What motivated you to create Starfish?

I think the world of headhunting has a mixed reputation. We really want our business to do our bit to challenge that. If you’re serious and committed about the work then your pride comes from the professionalism with which you carry it out. We talk about executive search very much as a profession, not just an industry; so standards are important. So is building a team of people who want the quality of their work to stand out. At the end of the day, what makes it all worthwhile is what our candidates go on to do once they are appointed. They really do change society. 

What does a great day look like at Starfish HQ?

We’re a close knit team; we have a really strong team culture with each new hire and this will define our business as we grow. A great day for us is a day when we’re all pulling together to achieve something – to land a new project we really want, or to organise our roles to deliver on a tricky assignment. But it’s also being able to come together when we don’t always get the result that we like and support each other. We’re great problem solvers and the team is very motivated and energetic.

How can you tell whether or not a headhunter is good at what they do?

Ask a client! We have built Starfish on what our clients have told us matters most to them – the list includes being a good listener; sound judgement and advice; honesty and someone who does what they say they are going to do. Good headhunters are usually influential and authentic about their work and because they enjoy it they go the extra mile. Speaking from within search, I would add that great headhunters can balance the received wisdom of their industry with common sense, flexibility and a desire to do the right thing. A good sense of humour helps – we’re in the people business and any headhunter will have had their fair share of events where those passing through our doors have done or said the unexpected.

What’s your message to people who might be thinking about moving into search?

Do it. Recruitment is quite often a misunderstood world and it is varied in terms of the approaches and specialisms involved. If you find the right company with the right culture for you, then it can be a fantastic career in which you will keep learning, build your own profile and specialism, and meet people you may not otherwise be able to engage with. I have met so many role models over the years – sometimes your clients and candidates can inspire you to think differently and that is an amazing experience. I remember all of those people and am still in touch with many of them. To do well, you need to be professional, reflective and interested in people, how the world works, and life. You can enter the executive search world from most backgrounds. It’s fast paced but it’s also exciting and you will forge strong working relationships that stand the test of time. 

And finally, why did you call the business Starfish?

Our values and culture are particularly important in how we deliver for our clients, so we wanted to choose a different and perhaps unexpected name. The starfish is a symbol of guidance, vigilance, inspiration, brilliance and intuition. It has represented friendship and guardianship across all cultures for millennia and is also a symbol of strength and longevity. The impact of our work is about all these things. Who knew that the humble Starfish was so significant?

New CEO Announced for Belu

The Board of Belu Water have today announced that Natalie Campbell will take over as Chief Executive on March 1st2020.

Belu is one of the UK’s best-known Social Enterprises serving the UK hotel, restaurant, and catering sectors to fulfil their water requirements with the lowest carbon footprint possible. The business prides itself on living its ‘environment first’ principle setting best practice standards in the sector. As of March 2019, the multi award-winning brand, and exclusive partner of WaterAid, announced that over £4m of profits have been invested in bringing clean water, decent toilets and hygiene education to the world’s poorest communities.

Natalie is an award-winning social entrepreneur, HarperCollins author and co-founder of A Very Good Company (AVGC), a global social innovation agency, that has worked with brands like Virgin Media, Marks and Spencer, W Hotels, the Guardian and Channel 4.  As a Non-Executive Director, she chaired the Nominet Trust and NCVYS. She was also on the board of UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs for 10 years. She is currently a Civil Service Commissioner, board member of the Big Lottery Fund, OPDC and LEAP, the Mayor of London’s economic action partnership.


Natalie Campbell said: ‘It is a career highlight to be joining Belu at such an exciting time for the business and the social enterprise movement more broadly. I have been an admirer from afar for the last 10 years; leading Belu into the next 10 – continuing purposeful growth and changing lives as a result – is a privilege and honour. The world needs more businesses that put the environment, human rights and sustainable practice at the core of their values and operations, I can’t wait to get started’.


Matt King, Belu Non-Executive Director said: ‘After an extensive search to find the right new leader for Belu, we are thrilled that Natalie has accepted our offer to join this incredibly impactful organisation. This business has set an exemplar from an environmental perspective and delivered immense social impact over the last decade. We needed an inspirational leader to take us into the next decade, and in Natalie we have found one.

‘She was our stand-out candidate and is a natural fit to be our new chief storyteller and will be able to build on the strong partnerships that Belu already has in place.  She is a great fit for the Belu values and in leading ‘A Very Good Company’ Natalie has already lived and demonstrated the belief that business can be a force for good.

‘Natalie takes over the reins of an innovative, successful and sustainable business that has delivered an incredible social impact and many ‘firsts’.  To mention a few, Belu was the first to use 50% recycled PET (rPET) in all our product lines in 2012, the first to move all lines to 100% rPET in 2019, and launched ‘ethical glass’ to bring the lightest weight UK made glass for mineral water bottles to market since 2014. These initiatives, combined with our highly innovative Belu Filter Initiative bringing water filtration systems without charge to the UK’s restaurant, hotel and catering industries, have led Belu to build a reputation as a small business with a huge impact. In turn this has led Belu to a multitude of awards including A Queens Award for Innovation in 2019 and a Queens Award for Sustainable Development in 2017.

‘Belu has had an incredible decade under Karen’s leadership, and whilst we will miss Karen’s constant presence we know we have her on-going support and we are delighted Karen’s work in the sector will continue through her Vice Chair role at Social Enterprise UK.’