Livingston James Group appoints Kirsty Sim and Jonathan Donnelly as EOT Directors

Creation of an EOT

Following a long period of consideration, towards the end of 2022 Livingston James Group put plans in place to change its ownership model to an Employee Ownership Trust.  Jamie Livingston (CEO and Founder), along with the Board, felt that this structure would be the “optimum business model to make us the most attractive place for the best people to work”. The change in structure was formalised in January this year and was welcomed by all employees within the business.


Benefits to the Business

The employees are now majority shareholders of the company, meaning that the business is run for and on behalf of all current and future employees.  The team is now even more bought into the business’s purpose and values, and research suggests that this should lead to increased staff retention and attraction. In an industry known for high staff turnover, Livingston James Group really bucks the trend; not just at leadership level, but across the business we have numerous team members with seven plus years’ service.  This not only demonstrates the fact that Livingston James Group offers a great place to work, but also strengthens our brand identity and culture.

The company has always felt like a democratic place to work, with minimal hierarchy yet decisive leadership.  Working for a business with around 30 employees, this culture is crucial as it creates an environment where all employees feel valued and that their voices can be heard. The fact that under the new scheme, all being well, every employee will benefit from an extra tax-free bonus of up to £3,600 a year, increases the feeling of egalitarianism.


Appointment of Trustee Directors  

In November last year, the business ran an anonymous voting process to elect its first two Trustee Directors.  All employees with over two years’ service were eligible for the posts. Kirsty Sim of Livingston James, and Jonathan Donnelly of Rutherford Cross were appointed.  Both joined the business in 2016 and have built positive relationships across the group.

The purpose of a Trustee Director is not to make decisions which affect the day to day running of the business but simply to provide a layer of governance that ensures the company is being run in the best interest of all its current and future employees.

Jonathan Donnelly commented on his appointment as a Trustee Director:

“I’m really pleased to be part of an EOT model and delighted to have been made a Trustee Director.  For me the role is providing an additional learning experience. The first quarterly EOT meeting involved reviewing the latest set of management accounts, which helped to give me greater understanding of the business. Spending time with the Founder/Group Chief Executive, Jamie Livingston and a very sharp and experienced Non-Exec Director in Craig McDermid will help develop my business acumen.”

Kirsty Sim also shared her views on her appointment:

“I was delighted to be elected as a Trustee Director, alongside Jonathan, by my colleagues. The transition to employee ownership has been incredibly exciting and I am honoured to have a part in ensuring that Livingston James Group continues to be a business that is run for and on behalf of all employees. I am looking forward to building relationships with other employee-owned business Trustee Directors in order to learn and grow over my tenure, as well as generally developing in the role of a Trustee.”


The Future

The plan is to rotate the incumbents of the employee Trustee Director posts every two to three years, which will provide more colleagues with this unique development opportunity and will enhance the company’s democratic culture. From a day to day leadership perspective, whilst this structure provides governance and support for long term succession, the senior management team remains unchanged and as engaged and incentivised as ever.

In short, the new ownership model provides another layer of interest to what is already a really exciting outlook for the future of the Livingston James Group.


Livingston James Group comprises three bespoke sub brands: Livingston James (executive search), Rutherford Cross (finance and accounting recruitment), and Hamilton Forth (technology and change recruitment). Whether you’re an experienced recruiter or new to the industry, we’re always looking for great people to join our team. Please get in touch for a confidential discussion if you are interested in a move or a career change!