Consultant Spotlight – Jonathan Donnelly

With a degree in Marketing and French from Strathclyde University, Rutherford Cross’ Jonathan Donnelly started out as a mortgage advisor before the 2008 financial crisis saw him reconsider his options, making the move into recruitment. He began his recruitment career with a FTSE 200 multinational business and subsequently went on to join a boutique professional services recruiter. Jonathan joined Rutherford Cross in 2016, initially working on part and newly qualified positions in his first few years with the business, before moving onto more senior permanent finance appointments. 

In our Consultant Spotlight below, Jonathan shares some highlights from his time working at Rutherford Cross and the Livingston James Group.


What attracted you to join Rutherford Cross back in 2016?

Deciding to join Rutherford Cross in 2016 was an easy decision to make. The group was already performing well and was becoming established as an excellent brand, known for working with many of Scotland’s most reputable employers. I knew some of the consultants who worked for the business already, and those who I didn’t know personally, I was acutely aware of by their positive reputation in the market.

I was also aware that Rutherford Cross was delivering a more tailored approach to recruitment than its competitors. The idea of working alongside knowledgeable consultants and learning how to provide an enhanced level of service to both candidates and clients was really appealing.


What markets do you focus on and how has your role changed since joining?

When I joined the business in 2016, I took ownership for our newly qualified accountancy desk within industry across the West of Scotland. I took responsibility for running our “Planning Your Career Journey” events which helped me build a defined network and further my personal reputation in that space. I enjoy advising up-and-coming accountants as to the various directions they can take their careers, and working across a number of diverse sectors.

One of the more interesting aspects of the job is finding out how different companies operate and the challenges they need to overcome. Over the course of the pandemic, I stepped up to take on more senior appointments. As the business and the team have grown, I now focus on more specific market sectors, which allows us to provide more in-depth knowledge and advice to our clients.


How would you describe working at Rutherford Cross and Livingston James Group overall?

I doubt there are many, if any, specialist recruitment firms that can boast such a wealth of experienced team members. Coming into the group, you need to be open to learning from your peers, whilst also having the confidence to share your knowledge to benefit other consultants in the business. There is very little hierarchy and there is a huge amount of mutual respect amongst all its employees.

Despite the level of experience, the consultants are all approachable and don’t take themselves too seriously. Over the past 2 years, we have brought in some very bright and capable up-and-coming consultants too, bringing fresh ideas and helping the business to stay relevant with the younger candidate population. This has also helped the culture to continue to evolve.


LJG is an Employee-Owned business. What does that mean to you?

Becoming an Employee-Owned business has been another positive step towards furthering our culture of engagement across all levels, ensuring we all have a say in how the organisation evolves. Group CEO, Jamie Livingston and Managing Director, Mark Lewis are always very keen to explore the best ways for the company to advance, and I know that a lot of time was spent researching and consulting before finalising this decision. I expect this move will help with staff retention, and those working for competitors may be more curious about joining us than before.

I was fortunate to have been elected a Trustee Director, along with my colleague Kirsty Mclardy, which was a huge honour. The purpose of our role is to ensure the company is being run in the interest of all its employees, and I have been attending Trustee Board Meetings on a quarterly basis which has broadened my business acumen and given me the opportunity to learn from the expertise of Jamie and our Non-Exec Director, Craig McDermid.


How has Rutherford Cross enabled you to explore new opportunities?

The business has a strong networking ethos and actively encourages us all to continually develop our relationships. Whilst we have our established events programme including “Planning Your Career Journey” and “Next Generation CFO”, the leaders of the business are very open to new ideas from consultants too.

When I joined, I wanted to host an annual charity football event that would involve our clients, candidates and colleagues to benefit the community. This is definitely the least formal event that we run but nonetheless has allowed us to be more accessible to those who partake. The day always provides good fun, hard fought competition, and a forum for relaxed networking with a few refreshments in the bar afterwards. Over the years we have had an increasing number of female players competing which has been great. These evenings have been really well received and have strengthened relationships while raising a good sum of money for worthwhile causes in the process; CHAS, SAMH, Marie Curie, and this year we raised close to £6,000 for Sense Scotland!

Sometimes working at Livingston James Group can feel like we work for an events company as much as a recruitment business, with events being such a big focus for us. I do think this has set us apart from competitors by running sessions that our clients and candidates can really benefit from, strengthening our brand identity and building a network who view the group as supporters of career development and not just placing people in the right jobs.


Outside of work, what do you like to do?

Outside of work, I am pretty busy running about after two young kids: an incredibly chatty seven-year-old girl and a lively five-year-old boy. I try to keep fit as I do believe it’s not just important for your physical health but also has a positive impact on mental health too. I play football once or twice a week, and occasionally play tennis and golf. Last year I ran the Edinburgh Marathon which gave me a good sense of achievement, although I’m in no rush to take on another one anytime soon…


For more information about careers at Rutherford Cross, please contact [email protected].