People First Ltd

Katie Bevan: Bringing multilingual diversity to recruitment

Twenty-five years ago, Katie Bevan co-founded People First Ltd., a recruitment company, with a vision to place multilingual candidates as staff for multinational corporations in London.

“People First started off in a tiny office in one of the less salubrious parts of town,” notes Katie. “But we managed to make our first sale within the first week and since then, we have never looked back.”

People First works with a network of international clients to place workers in temporary and permanent positions. It began with focusing on placing Japanese-speaking workers into roles in central London, but soon expanded into other markets and Mandarin and Cantonese.

Today, the People First umbrella hosts several brands including Team Japan, Team China, Supply Chain and Multilingual, and works across the United Kingdom. Many clients have been with the company since its inception, and Katie is proud today to work with many global brands.

Katie understands that diversity is an asset to her company, bringing in unique strengths and ways of thinking to successfully meet end goals: Of its 15 workers, more than 70% are women and more than 70% are from minority ethnic backgrounds.

“One of our greatest achievements is our exceptionally high staff retention rate,” she says. “Fifty percent of our workforce has been with the company for more than 10 years.”

Katie takes care of her staff, so when the pandemic hit and recruiting experienced a temporary pause, she used the time to help her team prepare for an uncertain future with virtual upskilling training, education on wellness techniques and tips to reconnect throughout lockdowns. Now that business has bounced back, she feels her relationships are stronger than ever.

And it’s paying off. People First now receives an average annual income of more than six million pounds, with January 2022 as the most profitable month to date. People First was named “Most Inspiring Support Professional” in 2018, part of Recruiter’s Investing in Talent annual awards, and has been shortlisted for many other awards in the recruitment and talent space.

“I’m so proud of our team of consultants who see themselves as an extended support network for their clients and candidates,” she explains. “For example, they advise candidates on how to open UK accounts, acclimate to the practicalities of UK life, and understand national employment legislation and working practices.”

Katie joined the WEConnect International network in 2020 as a certified women-owned business when one of People First’s established clients—a large, multinational healthcare company—suggested gaining recognition for the female ownership the company already had.

Being certified by WEConnect International allowed the client to add People First to its Preferred Supplier List and increase and track its spend with Katie’s team as a woman-owned business. People First has since had the opportunity to present its services to other global brands within that client’s vast network. Katie is excited about where this connection will take her company as it begins its second quarter century.