Interview with Richard Smith: Headhunter for the digital revolution

On Thursday, November 23, 2017, UAE’s newspaper The National published “A Week in the Life” story with Salt, a global, award-winning Digital Recruitment Agency, Director, Rick Smith. In case you missed the article by Shereen El Gazaar, here is the full story:


Richard Smith is the director and founder of Salt’s Dubai office, a recruitment service for digital teams across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
The office has grown rapidly in the past two years and now Salt is the largest digital specialist recruitment firm in the region. Mr Smith, 34, was previously a managing partner of Newstar Recruitment before merging with Salt to leverage their global network. He graduated with a degree in Asian studies with economics from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom K and has an MBA from Aston University, also in the UK. He has worked in Dubai for six years and he and his wife Danielle have a new-born daughter, Elodie.

My alarms chime at 6am and I am up almost immediately. I am definitely a morning person and I always prefer to get up early and have a controlled build-up for the day. I find the way you start your day on Sunday dictates your momentum for the rest of the week, so I make sure that I have a positive start. The first thing I do every morning is take our dog (a beautiful American Cocker Spaniel named Layla) for a brisk walk. This is a great way to get the energy flowing and allows me to start digesting my plan for the week. When I get back I grab a shower, have breakfast with my wife and hop in the car to arrive at work by 7.30.
The first thing on the agenda is hosting our weekly kick-off meeting; every day my whole team gets together at 8.30 for a “scrum”. Our Sunday scrum holds extra significance, as we use this time as a point of reflection on the week that was and set the agenda for the week that will be. I know that our truly collaborative and open culture is one of the things that sets Salt apart from our competition. Having daily touch points where everyone can communicate progress and receive recognition is really critical in making that dream culture a reality.
The rest of Sunday I spend doing one-to-one sessions with my team, reviewing their portfolio of open vacancies and making sure we have the right amount of resources dedicated to each vacancy to deliver a great service.

Client meeting. I regularly meet clients and discuss how their current recruitment campaigns are progressing. We assess sticking points in their recruitment process and I make suggestions on how to adjust these to allow a quicker, smoother candidate experience. Today, we discuss how to shorten the clients’ interview process without reducing the depth of the candidate assessment process. During the meeting, the client also discusses upcoming new vacancies and I run through a detailed qualification of those vacancies ready to brief one of my specialists in the office to help source candidates.

End of the week and several of the team and I are already looking forward to our Lunch Club incentive afternoon. Each month, I take a selection of our top performers out for a no-expense-spared afternoon starting with lunch followed by various nightlife highlights. Being a bit of a foodie, I take pride in making sure that for these special afternoons we try out the best restaurants that Dubai has available.
This year (in no particular order) we have attended: Coya; Nusr Et; Atmosphere; Le Petit Maison; Hakkassan; and Zuma, among others. We take the afternoon to enjoy each other’s company, have some banter about non-work- related topics and. of course. enjoy some incredible food and drink. Later we meet with the remainder of the team at our local bar The Scene in Pier 7 and some of the guys stay out late. I, however, have responsibilities at home and so I call it a night about 7 and head back to see my wife and daughter.

I generally try to keep the weekend free for time with my family. Having a new-born child is a real blessing, but it is also important that Danielle gets a break from diapers and feeding. Often I have to work late during the week entertaining clients or meeting candidates, so when I am at home I try and chip in by taking on some of the domestic duties.
Our social life before Elodie was led by the usual brunches and dinners that most couples we know tend to gravitate towards for weekend fun. Now, however, we really enjoy our time at home and with our friends in a slightly less party-led atmosphere. I guess I am getting old. Today we had a couple with another small child come and visit and say hello to Elodie for the first time. One thing I have noticed is the abundance of different opinions around child rearing in Dubai. It can sometimes feel like a maze trying to make the right decision that works for your family and fits the goals for your child.
Our friends, especially those who have gone through childbirth in the UAE themselves, have been a huge support in giving us tips of providers that suit our preferences.
After again chipping in on the regular dog walking for Layla and caregiving for Elodie, we decide to venture out to the mall for a change of scenery and some fun. We generally shy away from Mall of The Emirates and Dubai Mall due to the crowds and opt instead for Marina Mall or City Centre Me’aisem. We grab a pizza, walk along the marina boulevard for a bit and grab a frozen yogurt for dessert. We have a quiet evening in on Saturdays as I mentally prepare for a high-impact week coming up, we watch a series on Netflix and then call it a night at about 10.

Related articles


Upload your CV

Upload your CV to our database.

  • Max. file size: 5 MB.
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Interview with Richard Smith: Headhunter for the digital revolution

Please let us know where you are, or where you would like to be in the world so we can point you in the right direction.