Hiring From Within

Seven years after linking personally, Jodi Simpson and
Shawn Adamsson team up professionally to grow CityMatch

Photo: Jodi Simpson and Shawn Adamsson of CityMatch

TWO YEARS INTO her business of easing the transition of professionals and their families into London, Jodi Simpson was at a crossroads this summer. There simply wasn’t enough time in the week to do everything required to keep CityMatch running and growing the way she wanted.

Many an entrepreneur has faced a similar dilemma—pulled in multiple directions as the business grows, but hesitant to pull back from doing the things that created the growth.

“I had a formal mentor in Toronto and we did a strategy session in the summer. I started looking at the parts of the business I loved doing and the parts I could give up, potentially. Then I went for a long walk to talk about it all.”

Not surprisingly, her partner on the walk that day was her partner in life, Shawn Adamsson, formerly a partner in Ellipsis Digital. He helped plan and organize the renovation of the London Roundhouse, where Ellipsis operates today as a primary tenant. With that project complete, he left to create Wyrd Digital, which foundered but may come back in another form one day.

“Jodi is the secret sauce to this business. Her energy and enthusiasm are what make it work, but we can lock down our processes and become more organized in our systems. That’s my job” —Shawn Adamsson 

“Shawn knew what I was struggling with, and I knew what his skills were. And then it hit us: What he had was what I needed. We valued each other’s skills, and it made perfect sense.”

They would join professionally, seven years after joining personally.

As of August, he is chief strategy officer, responsible for marketing, planning and generally keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes. Simpson continues to be the face of CityMatch, working with a ­variety of business, education and healthcare organizations to introduce new employees and their families to everything London has to offer.

“Over the last two years, I’ve worked with people from 20 to 25 countries, coming to work in all kinds of sectors. Each case is unique, and my job is to welcome them and make sure their transition is as smooth as possible.”

Initially, she spent a lot of time pitching her concept to organizations that heretofore hadn’t considered the ­ripple effect moving to a new job in London has on the new ­employee’s family.

“If you’re competing for talent and trying to get someone to move to London, you need to do more than provide a ­moving allowance and a tour of the city with someone from HR,” she says.

More and more organizations have seen the value of bringing Simpson in early, long before the person arrives in London. “I’m usually working for three to six months, learning about the person and the family, getting an idea of where they want to live, what schools are required, their interests and hobbies, getting them connected to the resources they will need to live here and be part of the community,” she says.

When they arrive, she’s often the first person they meet, and she continues helping them for several weeks to do “city on-boarding.”
“Jodi is the secret sauce to this business,” Adamsson says. “Her energy and enthusiasm are what make it work, but we can lock down our processes and become more organized in our systems. That’s my job.”

Part of the goal is to make Simpson more efficient. The other part is to prepare the business for potential expansion, by franchise or some other mechanism, to other cities, where people with Simpson’s enthusiasm for their city could follow her model of welcome and support.
As for working together, in a home-based environment no less?

“We have our separate spaces,” Simpson laughs.

“And we’re pretty good about shutting it off on weekends,” Adamsson adds.  Christopher Clark