Andy McKelvey

Andy McKelvey was probably the most influential individual the world of recruitment communications has ever seen.  It is therefore right and proper that Ri5 should reflect at some length on his extraordinary life, which came to an end on 27th November, 2008 in New York, when he lost his battle against pancreatic cancer.  He was 74.

As is the case with many entrepreneurs, Andy showed early interest in business: as a 14-year old, he bought and sold eggs among his neighbours in southern New Jersey.  Next came college, a spell running a theatre, and the US army, before a move to Australia to seek his fortune, initially in the juke-box business.  He returned to the USA in the early 1960s and took his first steps in the advertising world on Madison Avenue, as an account executive working on fmcg accounts.  He later joined another agency where one of his major clients advertised, not on TV, but in Yellow Pages, kindling Andy's interest.  In 1967, with little money, one part-time assistant and working in borrowed office space, Andy launched Telephone Marketing Programs.  The company grew organically and by acquisition until, in the early 1990s, it dominated the Yellow Pages market and needed to diversify in order to progress.  Andy McKelvey saw similarities between what he was doing and recruitment advertising, and entered this market with the simple aim of becoming the world's biggest recruitment advertising agency.  By 1997, the objective had been achieved.  Along the way, he acquired over 40 agencies in 17 countries, he took his company public, and the name changed to TMP Worldwide.

Andy McKelvey himself was fond of saying: "The secret of success is being in the right place at the right time."  The story of Monster is certainly an example of timing, with perhaps a little bit of luck thrown in, as this extract from an Ri5 article in September 2006 shows:

"The Monster Board and its branding started life in a Boston, Mass. ad agency called Adion in 1994. It was here that Jeff Taylor, a former student entrepreneur and disc jockey, developed an Internet notice board for his recruitment clients. Just a year later, TMP came a-knocking at Adion's door during its quest to rule the recruitment advertising world...  The story goes that TMP supremo Andy McKelvey actually had no interest at first in buying The Monster Board, but he was persuaded and it was included in the $3 million Adion deal.  TMP then went public in 1996 and, encouraged by investors, began to exploit the potential of its online interests.  The Monster was soon growing at a faster pace than all the group's other divisions, and simple extrapolation signalled that its other performance indicators would overtake before very long."

The Internet, and Monster.com in particular, have transformed recruitment communications throughout the world.  In 2003 TMP Worldwide became Monster Worldwide, and by 2006 all the advertising and communications agencies so painstakingly collected through the 1990s had been sold - many back to their management teams - leaving Monster to concentrate on its recruitment media interests.  In 2007, the company reported revenue of $1.35 billion, interests in 36 countries, and 5,200 employees.  According to its own statistics, Monster job-seekers conduct 3.9 million job searches per month, and over 27,000 new CVs are posted everyday.

Andy McKelvey was a billionaire who enjoyed the trappings and lifestyle of wealth to the full.  He married six times, and leaves four children and six grandchildren.  He gave many millions of dollars to charity, including educational and medical funds that bear his name.  In 2000, he risked the wrath of the powerful US gun lobby by starting Americans for Gun Safety, a not-for-profit group (now defunct) whose stated aims were to promote gun safety training and responsible gun laws, and to reduce gun crime.  The last few years of Andy's career were blighted by an investigation into backdated stock options at Monster Worldwide, which led to his departure from the company in 2006.

Finally, Ri5 is pleased to publish the thoughts of some of the leading figures in recruitment communications, all of whom worked closely with Andy McKelvey and/or knew him well:

Peter Dolphin, vice-president of Monster.com in Europe: "Andy was a man of great drive and vision.  When I first met Andy and he outlined his plan to grow an integrated, pan European Recruitment Advertising network I was naturally very excited, but at the same time a bit sceptical that he really meant it.  But, mean it he did.  In life, faster, bigger, better were the key words for Andy.  He was a great person to work for.  He gave us plenty of freedom and scope to operate, and his review process was simple.  How can we go faster, get bigger, be better?  Andy was a compassionate man who donated tremendous funds to charity, including setting up a Lung Transplant Center at Emory University.  And he was insatiably inquisitive.  He travelled often to far-flung places around the world, always interested in what was over the hill.  It was a great privilege for me to know Andy for many years.  I learned a great deal from him, and he gave me the opportunity to do things with my career that I would never have dreamed of years before.  My thoughts are with his family and friends."

Andrew Wilkinson, chief executive of TMP Worldwide in the UK: "When I first met Andy in 1994 at the Four Seasons in Park Lane, I had little idea of the impact he would have on my life and career.  His purchase of Moxon Dolphin & Kerby was just the beginning, and he forever changed the landscape of recruitment advertising in this country and probably the world.  In 1996 he pushed the launch of Monster.co.uk and drove Monster's early success.  He gave me great opportunity to lead the UK TMP business and also to drive the growth of Monster's European network.  I spent a great deal of time with him, both at work, where he was a salesman through and through, and also socially, from playing golf in South Africa to ten days on an icebreaker in the Antarctic and four Ryder Cups.  He was a man who lived life to the full.  An era has come to an end, and my thoughts are with his family."

Nigel Bastow, who is now head of resourcing at RBS, UK & Europe, was a senior manager at MSL when he first met Andy McKelvey in the mid-1990s.  It was TMP's takeover of MSL, then one of the UK's biggest names in management selection and recruitment communications, that really made the industry sit up and take notice.  "Andy was the proverbial breath of fresh air - some would say more a gale-force wind - for the UK recruitment ad industry and indeed the global one," says Nigel.  "Whilst not everyone's cup of tea, he brought a well-needed wake-up call to a lethargic era and forced us to embrace the internet.  On a personal level, I found him great company and highly motivating to work with and for.  We may not see his like again for some while."

Joe Slavin, now chief executive at Fish4 and formerly MD of Monster.co.uk: "Andy was a fantastic man.  He gave me my start out of university when the US economy was in the toilet.  I then had the pleasure of working with him in about 15 roles in 14 years, from 1985 until 1999.  He was quite a charismatic fellow, and all of the managers I worked with used the joke that we would drink Kool Aid for him.  He leaves behind a group of managers who have all moved on and become successful thanks to the opportunities he and his high growth gave us.  My motivation for getting out of bed every day is that one day I will provide my people with the opportunities that I had thanks to Andy."

And finally, from Simon Howard, chairman of Work Group: "He was the only guy in this industry who had a vision and saw it through; he was a real entrepreneur."

And one last thought: Andy McKelvey was indirectly responsible for Ri5.  He bought the agency two of us worked for in 1996, but working together didn't work out.  So we left - and Ri5 was born.  Just one more feather in his cap.  RIP.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

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Alan Kerby Date: Jan 14, 2019

And some said I was wrong to bring him into the UK. Was I?

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Andy McKelvey
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