Winner: Toby Babb: CEO, Harrington Starr

The winner illustrated a real advocacy and promotion of the recruitment industry within his client space with the creation of thought leadership channels both print and digital.

  • The judges praised Toby for being a serial innovator, constantly thinking from his customer’s perspective, doing things differently, solving challenges with effective solutions and fostering a keen spirit of entrepreneurialism from within his Harrington Starr business.
  • In the judging period – and uncertain times with Brexit and the UK’s relationship with the EU – Toby expanded on the newly launched (2017) sister company, North Starr, opening two offices in New York and San Francisco during 2018. He launched Harrington Starr Executive Search in late 2017 and Harrington Starr Tech Consulting, to support the growing use of technology and AI.
  • Believing ‘you are only as good as your team’, Toby has fostered a spirit of entrepreneurialism, giving ownership, freedom and responsibility to like-minded employees. Early 2018 saw him instigate ‘Faster, Better, Stronger’, a career programme to inspire and encourage consultants to become the best they can.
  • Toby masterminded Harrington Starr’s customer marketing programme, which embeds the company firmly at the core of its customer communities at all levels. He also launched Harrington Starr’s own industry magazine, The Financial Technologist Magazine, which really sets Harrington Starr apart for its competition.
  • The consistent growth of the Harrington Starr Group over the past 10 years (over 30% year-on-year) is a good indicator of Toby’s forward-thinking strategy, and pays testimony to the fact that his approach is robust, sustainable and visionary.

Judges’ comments: “He has elevated the perception of recruitment within his marketplace and collaborated widely with both big corporates and start-ups.”


  • Robert Chingwalu: Owner / Manager, East Point Care
  • Nina Lockwood: Founder / Director, Intuitive Interim & Exec Search


  • Nicholas Barton: Founder / CEO, The Barton Partnership
  • Mark Beavan: Head of Agency, That Little Agency
  • Danny Brooks: CEO, VHR
  • Richard Cooke: Managing Director, Seven Resourcing