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August 10, 2015

DHR International Australia: Margaret Dillon, James Gathercole, Ben Burrell

Update August 10, 2015: Both James Gathercole and Ben Burrell have now updated their LinkedIn profiles to say they work for a firm called Calibre One and have totally disowned their tenures at DHR by deleting all references to the "renowned" firm (thanks to a reader for this tip)
Lorenz Pestinger
"I was recently approached by Lorenz Pestinger from DHR International in Hong Kong about joining DHR in Australia. As the discussions progressed, I was told by Steve Stine (who is the Managing Director Asia Pacific at DHR International) that, if I were to join DHR in Sydney, I would have to hide the fact that I am based in Australia and pretend that I am working out of Singapore! Stine told me that DHR were not allowed to operate in Australia for legal reasons, but wouldn't go into specifics. It felt very shady! I have ethics and wouldn't want to mislead my clients or candidates." 
Steven Stine
"As part of the process, I met a couple of DHR consultants who were based in Melbourne and Sydney but listed on the DHR International site as being in Singapore. I couldn't understand why or how any ethical consultant would do this. How can you do business development with Australian clients but be listed on your firm's website as being based in Singapore? Perhaps there's a tax benefit of being paid your salary and commissions out of Singapore and not paying Australian tax. I don't know..." 
"Fortunately, I was doing my research and found your blog and could see that what DHR International are doing in Australia is not atypical of their behaviour. I have not and won't join DHR International. Feel free to post this on your blog to warn others."
We received this email and then did some research.

It appears DHR International have had at least four consultants operating in Australia in recent months:

Margaret Dillon

The DHR International web site lists Margaret Dillon as being based in Singapore. Her bio on the DHR website admits her "current primary focus on the Australasian markets".

For a while, Dillon's LinkedIn profile made it clear she is working in Melbourne: until July 2015, she was based in  "Melbourne Area, Australia" and the text said "Margaret Dillon serves as Executive Vice President in the firm’s Melbourne office, having transferred from Singapore in October 2012". It also said she was "Currently residing in Melbourne". But in July, 2015 she changed her LinkedIn profile to claim she was in Singapore with the text saying she "is seconded to Australia".

Margaret Dillon is clearly based in Melbourne but partially hiding it for some reason.

And as pointed out by one of the comments below, her DHR bio says she is a "Principal" but, in her LinkedIn profile, she claimed for quite a while to have a more senior position: an "Executive Vice President". As the commenter suggested, she is suffering from "Hoffmannitis" (a syndrome where one embellishes one's resume). Given the focus on her on our web site, she now admits in her LinkedIn profile she has been demoted to "Principal".

James Gathercole 

The DHR International web site listed James Gathercole as being based in Singapore and (then added) Hong Kong. However his only contact number was an Australian (+61) phone number. Further, his bio on the DHR International website said Gathercole was "now a proud Australian".

Due to the coverage of our web site, Gathercole's bio was updated in May 2015 to refer to his supposed working in Hong Kong, as well as Singapore, and a reference to his being in Melbourne. But for at least four months he tried to hide his living and working in Melbourne.

Then in July, 2015, Gathercole disappeared overnight from the DHR web site. He has updated his LinkedIn profile to show he is working at a firm called Calibre One - this is sixth firm in several years. Curiously, although he spent at least six months at DHR, he has dropped all references to DHR International in his Calibre One bio and LinkedIn profile, although has kept the other four earlier search firms where he has worked. A reputable search consultant conducting a search for a client would automatically exclude candidates who omitted key parts of their professional history. But this "Hoffmanitis" is fairly standard practice at DHR.

James Gathercole in Feb 2014 while at DHR, living in the mythical land of "Other"
James Gathercole of Calibre One in August 2014 minus any references to DHR International
His LinkedIn profile was interesting while he was at DHR.  It referred to his working in Australia and showed that he is Melbourne based at least in terms of his membership of the Victorian Executive Committee of the Australia China Business Council. But his profile was deliberately misleading: Burrell lived in a mythical place called "Other". Why didn't his LinkedIn profile say "Singapore" or "Hong Kong" if he was based there with DHR International, as claimed on the DHR web site for some time? Gathercole updated the text of his LinkedIn profile in May 2015 to admit he worked in Australia, but he was still in "Other".

It was clear Gathercole was a DHR International consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. If he is the "proud Australian" he claims to be, why did he try so hard to hide that he was living and working there?

Ben Burrell

The DHR International web site listed him as being based in Singapore but his only contact number was an Australian (+61) phone number! Further, his bio on the DHR International website said "Since relocating back to Australia in 2010, Ben has been an investor in and/or founder of different ventures … and remains actively involved in the local community". You cannot be actively involved in the local Sydney community if you are in Singapore.

Due to the coverage of this web site, Burrell's profile was updated in May 2015 to refer to his supposed working in Hong Kong, as well as Singapore, and an ambiguous reference to his being in Sydney. But for at least four months he tried to hide his living and working in Sydney.

Then in July, 2015, Burrell disappeared overnight from the DHR web site. Like Gathercole, although he spent at least six months at DHR, he has dropped all references to DHR International in his Calibre One bio and as a full role LinkedIn profile, although has kept the the firms where he previously worked and buried DHR in the profile. As we noted above, a reputable search consultant conducting a search for a client would automatically exclude candidates who omitted key parts of their professional history. But Burrell's "Hoffmanitis" is the same as Gathercole's.

Ben Burrell's LinkedIn profile is bizarre. Most people's LinkedIn profiles list their location up the top e.g. "Sydney", "Melbourne", "Hong Kong", "Chicago", etc. Like Gathercole, Burrell lives in a place called "Other". Why doesn't it say "Singapore" if he is based there, as claimed by DHR International until July 2015? In May 2015, presumably due to our shining a light on it, Burrell updated his LinkedIn profile to admit he is "working in Australia", but with this strange "Other" designation.

In other words, he has been clearly based in Australia but tried to hide it for many months. Why?

So, it is clear the executive search consultant approached by DHR International is correct. There's something "shady" going on. It is readily apparent that Dillon and (for a while) Burrell and Gathercole,  have been working for DHR International in Sydney or Melbourne, but why were they not listed as such on the DHR International website for at least four months? We know how much DHR International like to claim they have more offices than they really do. So, why are DHR International wasting this valuable opportunity to inflate their size and add more offices to their map?

This is a coordinated effort between DHR International, its leadership (including Steve Stine) and its Australian employees to deceive. To put "Other" into your LinkedIn profile, you have to scroll through 200 countries and look below Zambia and Zimbabwe. You don't do that by mistake. The DHR International Australian consultants are the only consultants in Singapore not to have Vcards on the site, presumably so that DHR can hide their real addresses.

So, why are DHR International attempting to hide their operations in Australia?

Steve Stine told the prospective recruit that DHR were "not allowed to operate in Australia for legal reasons". We previously posted the legal documents where DHR International, David Hoffmann and Margaret Dillon were being sued by a shareholder in relation to their operations in Australia. From the court documents, Hoffmann and Dillon were board directors of the DHR International subsidiary in Australia and it appears they did not comply with their legal obligations, leading a shareholder to sue them in May 2013. We know that "Australia" disappeared from the DHR International website between September and October 2013.

But that doesn't reconcile with the fact that Dillon "transferred from Singapore in October 2012" to Melbourne and, according to her LinkedIn profile has been working in Melbourne for DHR International ever since. A LinkedIn search shows a number of other employees who were working for DHR International in Australia left in early 2013. Only Dillon remained.

What we don't (yet) know is why DHR are not allowed to operate in Australia. Did they lose the lawsuit in Australia? Is there a regulatory reason where DHR International are not allowed to operate unless they have a license and, instead of getting one, they are hiding the fact they are operating from the Australian regulator?

And why would Ben Burrell, Margaret Dillon and James Gathercole be comfortable working for DHR International and operating in Australia without for so long being listed on the DHR International web site or (in three cases) even LinkedIn as being in Australia? How on earth do they explain this to clients and candidates in Australia? Don't their clients and candidates think this is "shady"?

For the first half of 2015, there were five consultants listed as being in the DHR International Singapore office. It turns out three of the five were based in Australia, meaning it was a two-consultant office.

Tip of the hat to the consultant who sent us this email from "down under". We would welcome any more information on the situation in Australia. Please leave us a comment below or email us at unofficial.dhr(at)gmail.com. You can even do this anonymously.

14 comments:

  1. Yes, this does seem 'shady'. It is not surprising of DHR International but like you I don't understand why these consultants would do this. I agree the clients must see this as fishy but I think there's another catch: if the regulator wants to go after anybody, they will go after the people in Australia not the DHR people in Hong Kong or Chicago.

    DHR International must be paying Burrell, Dillon and Gatharcole consultants a lot of money to get them to do this. But if they are breaking the law, then they will be the ones that go to jail not Stine or the Hoffmanns.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Margaret Dillon's profile on the DHR site says she is a Principal but on LinkedIn she claims to be an EVP. These are different levels at DHR and so she has a bad case of Hoffmannitis i.e. she lies on her resume!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting article on the story of DHR Australia by one of Australia's best known business journalists at http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/dhr-international-leaves-bill-with-australian-government-20150529-ghc9cz.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you've read The Sydney Morning Herald article, you can probably work out why James Gathercole is now trying to hide his connection with DHR. Are DHR and its co-conspirators (Margaret Dillon, James Gathercole and Ben Burrell) under investigation?

    Of course, these three knew what has been going on and this is why for so long they tried to hide their presence in Australia.

    What an ethical life! You join DHR and you willingly hide that you live and work in Australia—how do you explain that to clients when you try to sell them assignments. Then you leave DHR and hide that you worked for DHR.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There is no reason to target and harass individuals, especially those who are no longer with the firm. I don't know Ben or Margaret, but I know James from years back. He is a genuinely good person, and is not deserving of being caught in the crossfire of your personal vendetta against David Hoffman. By all means, continue attacking DHR if that is your life's mission, but it is incredibly inappropriate to attack employees who have done nothing but go to work and try to serve clients.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is hard to see how this post is harassing any individual. All the writer of the blog has done is point out some supportable facts:

      1. Fact: James Gathercole, Ben Burrell & Margaret Dillon worked or continue to work for DHR based in Australia but fabricated a lie that they were or are based in Singapore. As such, these individuals have been willingly complicit in DHR's deceit about their operation and presence in the Australian market.

      2. Fact: James Gathercole and Ben Burrell appear to have lasted a mere six months with DHR, as typically happens with DHR consultants if they don't sell enough. Presumably that was the case here.

      3. Fact: James Gathercole has erased his tenure with DHR from his LinkedIn profile. David Hoffmann and his team are on the record that people should not lie on their resumes (even though Hoffmann does this) and yet Gathercole is doing this too. It is poor for anyone to do this. It is inexcusable for a search professional to do this.

      If this weren't true, perhaps it would be harassment. But given James' actions and omissions, he shares responsibility.

      Delete
    2. The original commenter says "I know James from years back".

      It that because you are James?

      Delete
    3. James, don't claim to be the innocent bystander.

      What did you do when DHR asked you to join in Melbourne but told you that you would have to claim to be in Singapore on their website, in your LinkedIn, in your employment contract, and on your business cards? Wasn't that clearly fishy if not illegal?

      You know consultants who worked for DHR in Australia when DHR did the wrong thing and fired them, and didn't pay them or other creditors. Did you call these people and take references? Did you ask Geoff Hoffmann, Christine Greybe or Steven Stine the relevant questions? Or did you put your head in the sand?

      Executive search is all about reputation and you tarnished your reputation by getting into bed with DHR International. You cannot now cleanse yourself by attempting to wipe DHR from your work history. It is disingenuous to claim you are beyond reproach, "caught in the crossfire" and are being unfairly targeted or harassed.

      Man up!

      Delete
    4. In Australia, we describe someone like James as a "shonk".

      Delete
  6. Ben, Margaret, Minkyo and especially James (as you call yourself in the comment above "a genuinely good person"):

    What's your defence?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Minkyo Kim is not a consultant, but merely an associate or research associate...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She clearly claims to be a "Consultant" in both the Headline and role description of her LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=24945923.

      If you are right that she is actually a researcher, then she's a perfect fit for DHR: only those that lie on their resumes by action or omission are a fit for DHR. And Calibre One too, it seems.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately he lied on Linkedin...

      Delete