17 Oct 2022

Spotlight on...

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James Miles, Head of JAPAC at Frank Recruitment Group

Tell us about yourself. 

Born in Chicago when my father was a floor trader at “the Merc” which was very well depicted by Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in the movie Trading Places. We relocated back to the UK when I was 5 and grew up in leafy Surrey in a town called Weybridge. After University I moved into real estate and eventually relocated to Singapore in 2005 to do corporate real estate, selling office space across Singapore’s CBD. A baptism of fire and a great introduction to working in Asia - 100 cold calls a day using the Yellow Pages and door knocking – starting at the top of an office building and going down floor-by-floor using the fire escape, regularly chased out by security guards - six days a week when Saturday was still an official working day. I moved into recruitment at the end of 2005 and have been in the industry ever since. I previously worked for RGF / Recruit Holdings in their first office outside of Japan in 2010 and set up and grew their Singapore business over 11 years. This is when I was first introduced to APSCo - a great help with our initial entrance. I’m currently with Frank Recruitment Group, part of the Tenth Revolution Group, running their JAPAC business which consists of Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan, and happy to see the strength of our relationship with APSCo in the UK and especially in Australia; I’m looking forward to expanding that partnership into Singapore/Asia as well. 

What is special about living in Singapore? 

My initial plan was to work in Asia for 4-5 years moving around Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai, and then move back to the UK. But as happens to most people, I now find myself in my 17th year in Singapore! Singapore is a hub, so the main benefit of living here is the ease of travelling to different countries within the JAPAC region whether for business or pleasure. This benefit was completely impacted by covid and forced a lot of ex-pats out. However, the benefits of safety, schooling, short work commutes and low-income tax helped keep us firmly rooted, even during the most challenging times. Luckily, we are now almost back to normal and are absolutely taking advantage, having travelled to six different countries since the beginning of the year. 

What’s your favourite food and which restaurant would you suggest people must try when visiting Singapore/Malaysia? 

There are too many options in Singapore, so I will give two, my kids and I love a good Roti Prata on a Sunday morning, so without fail you’ll always find us in Zamas Restaurant on the corner of River Valley and Kellock Road, tucking into a mix of plain, cheese and egg prata with curry sauce before Taekwondo and ballet classes start. We also love Laksa, so whenever we are meeting friends on the East Coast, we’ll always pop into 328 Katong Laksa. 

What would your dream holiday look like? 

In the past, I would always say a beach, a book and a beer, but now I am craving snow after such a long time in lockdown in 35 degrees and 80% humidity, so when we next get the chance, it’ll be a ski/snowboarding holiday, most likely in Hokkaido in Japan so the kids can learn to ski, and I can get on the slopes after a long hiatus. 

What movie/book title best describes your life? 

I would like to say something cool, but over the last few years my life is more similar to “Parenthood” or “Baby’s Day Out” where life has been completely dominated by young kids. Trying to balance work, parenting, and home-schooling during lockdown was a massive challenge. 

Where is the most interesting place you have been? 

When I first started in recruitment, I was involved in a recruitment fair in the Middle East. We jumped around Dubai, then Qatar and finally Kuwait to win recruitment projects with large businesses looking to hire foreign engineering talent from markets such as India, China and the Philippines. Kuwait was a very interesting place due to its war-torn history, and all the strict rules in place. The only place we could get a good meal and a glass of wine was on international soil in the basement of the British Consulate. Other than that, I always love travelling to Japan for its culture and food. 

What do you enjoy the most about working in the recruitment sector? 

Apart from the addiction to the rollercoaster of highs and lows in the recruitment industry, I think learning from and engaging with such a diverse array of talent across the APAC region is the biggest plus. Having moved from a huge generalist firm to a hypergrowth specialist in cloud technology, meeting multiple senior leaders within that ecosystem, and getting more involved in the Women in Tech space has opened up so many more new areas to learn and get inspired by. 

What are the challenges and opportunities associated with the recruitment industry in Singapore/Malaysia? 

From a Singapore perspective, the change in regulations when it comes to foreign workers has been the biggest challenge. These changes have helped to tighten the talent pool, forced companies to prioritise the hiring of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs), and increased the overall war for talent. Some of the changes have included the reduction of companies' SPass quotas down to 10% in the services industry, the increase in the banding of Employment Pass (EP) qualification salaries, and the removal of the Letter of Consent (LOC) which previously allowed dependents of Employment Pass Holders to work. With SPass qualifying salaries and levies increasing again next year, and the introduction of the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS), this war for talent will not change anytime soon. With demand massively outweighing supply, that is where the opportunity lies, Singapore has flipped from a client-driven market to a candidate-driven market. 

What do you wish you knew more about before entering the industry? 

The rapid ageing process! 

What are you absolutely determined to do and how do you see yourself supporting the recruitment sector with the help of APSCo? 

I am fully focused on growing and expanding Frank Recruitment and Tenth Revolution Group across the rest of APAC with APSCo’s support. 

Top Tip? 

Find your own method of stress relief! Mine is a quick lunchtime run on the treadmill.