Being made redundant by a tech recruitment company in 2005 spurred Farida Gibbs to fulfil her ambition of starting her own company. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says, explaining how she would help her father with his grocery store and newsagent from a young age.
With ample experience in the recruitment sector, she had a vision of how to do things differently. “I love recruitment, I love people, but I’d seen how other firms do it and I don’t like the lack of values or morals,” she explains. “It was all about the bottom line and the commission but nothing along the lines of service, outcomes and delighting the customer.”
However, Gibbs – who is mixed race, with a Pakistani father and an Egyptian mother – immediately ran into a huge obstacle. “The biggest challenge I faced was being an ethnic minority woman in a very white, male-dominated environment,” she recalls. “When I went into briefing sessions with clients, I noticed I didn’t look like anyone else. Also, there was a considerable amount of business done in a blokey mates-down-the-pub-after-work way and as I don’t drink, I didn’t socialise and interact in that way, so it was difficult. For me it was about going home and seeing my child and family.”
Determined to succeed, she eventually found a way forward. “Those buyers would always give my competitors the heads-up as they were mates,” she recalls. “Partly because of that there were times when I thought I would just need to get out of this industry, but I eventually decided I wasn’t going to give up. My way of getting around this issue was to approach the senior females within those firms and build relationships with them. And thankfully I came across MSDUK, who introduced me to companies that were interested in doing business with people like me.”
Thanks to Gibbs’ drive and determination, and the help of MSDUK, Gibbs Hybrid International is now an award-winning IT and business-services company with a turnover of £45 million in 2018.
“There were times when I thought I would just need to get out of this industry, but I eventually decided I wasn’t going to give up. My way of getting around this issue was to approach the senior females within those firms and build relationships with them.”
Minority businesses produce valuable goods and services, provide jobs, create wealth, pay taxes and support local communities. Read their stories here.
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