In-Focus with DocPlanner’s Ryan Hill

As Okta's founder describes so fittingly, the main thing is always the main thing. I'm here to focus on being amazing at one thing, getting rockstars to join DocPlanner.

In-Focus with DocPlanner’s Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill, VP Global Leadership Development & Executive Recruitment at DocPlanner.

From semi-pro footballer to business leader: ‘I’m curiously obsessed about talent’

‘As Okta's founder describes so fittingly, the main thing is always the main thing. I'm here to focus on being amazing at one thing, getting rockstars to join DocPlanner.’

From doing the rounds on the football circuit to leading global executive hiring at the world's largest healthtech platform, it takes time to find your true calling. Turns out DocPlanner’s Ryan Hill is more driven by people than he ever was by football.

Ryan didn’t have the most conventional of career starts. The first ten years of his working life were spent playing semi-professional football at a variety of clubs across the UK. He played for southern English sides like Dorchester Town, Farnborough, AFC Totton and Weymouth FC, winning the National League South title and appearing in the third round of the FA Cup.

He never had the chance to go to university. So, once his football career started to wind down, he felt lost, wondering what to do with himself. Eventually, one of the guys in his team who was working in recruitment suggested he try it out.

‘It was just a tiny boutique procurement supply chain recruiter,’ says Ryan, ‘but it taught me all the things I needed to know about business and the world of recruitment. Plus, I needed something stable so I could continue playing football.’

@R2Hilly Apr 14, 2015

‘That’s where I first understood how to level myself up,’ says Ryan, ‘how certain hoops get you to the next step in your career in seniority, responsibility or salary.’ After 12 months of cutting his teeth, he made the step up, into the ‘real world’ as he describes it – a larger recruiter within the commodities industry.

Off the back of that he pivoted into executive search, a specialised type of recruitment aimed at attracting highly skilled senior talent to organisations. It was at this first executive search firm that the imposter syndrome he’d felt ever since joining the business world finally started to wear off; he’d found his calling.

Ryan admits that leaving that first executive search company for a young startup, was one of his early professional failures of judgement.  

‘Failure teaches you a lot about life and about yourself’, says Ryan, ‘that initial failure was an amazing character-building process.’ As a result, he was introduced to the world of venture capital and tech, at a time when investment in the UK and Europe’s tech scene was flourishing.

He then spent two years outside of London trying to compete with some of the city’s largest executive search firms. Then finally, one of them gave him the tap on the shoulder. Joining a leading global executive search firm meant he could work closely with investors and founders. He was one of the youngest partners at that firm, breaking a series of records on his way to becoming managing partner after just two years.

‘If I'm being honest with you, there was never a point where I was looking to check out and leave a great firm with a growing reputation,’ says Ryan. However, when Covid struck, and with a second baby girl on the way, he had some space to think and a renewed perspective. 

He’d spent the first ten years of his life trying to make it as a professional sportsman and the next decade hiring people into companies he’d never worked for. Now he wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the fence and go in-house. 

As it happened, he’d worked very closely with the investors and founders of DocPlanner – the booking platform and management software for doctors – hiring many of their senior leadership team. They gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse, the chance to grow and learn alongside a business he truly believed in. The mission was simple, “to make the healthcare experience more human”. So, in September 2021, he crossed over.

Ryan and his global hiring team is now relentlessly focused on translating the benefits of DocPlanner to the external market, hunting and nurturing talent around the world with a view to convincing them to join on the journey.

In his own words he describes the model and global function he has created at the company: 

‘Traditional talent acquisition and executive search don't typically go hand-in-hand. They’re diametrically opposed working models. My theory before landing here at DocPlanner was to build a hybrid search model that could deal with the volume and cadence of traditional talent acquisition mixed with the depth, insights, and impact of the executive search world. We have done this in rapid fashion, hiring over twenty leaders all over the world in under ten months. We’ve built a global team, frameworks, and playbook from scratch. It's amazing to see the impact every senior hire makes.’

According to Ryan, DocPlanner has a humble and high-performance culture: ‘I've learned more in the last eleven months here than in the previous five years. It's fascinating and inspirational.’

 Reflecting on not reaching the levels he hoped for to in his professional sports career:

 ‘Half the time, I wasn't focused enough. I lacked the maturity to be ok with boredom, and discipline to go to the next level of being pro. As I’ve gotten older, started a family and taken on more responsibility in both personal and professional life, I’ve come to realise I wasn't obsessed enough about [football].’

‘My obsession today is with people, how they think, and how we can apply that mindset to DocPlanner’s DNA in the hope of an IPO in the future.’

The In-Focus interview series is a collection of articles commissioned by Atara Partners with some of the world's fastest-moving technology businesses and their leaders.

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