Howard Rudder: Standing to attention

Having met the queen, dressed in camouflage and survived being shot at, Howard Rudder experienced some truly unique experiences during his nine-year service in the Royal Navy, but when the Cold War ended he needed to make a decision: stay with his brothers in arms or start a new career. Howard decided on the latter, but soon realised that leaving the armed forces and starting over was no picnic. So he created a new company with business partner Chris Buck to help veterans find a new purpose in life.

In just one year of trading, Grantham-based RecruitME has exceeded expectations. Already enacting their plan for year three, Howard has doubled the size of his staff and is planning to double it again soon, becoming the ultimate stepping stone for people leaving the armed forces to find a new career path. Despite intending on starting out locally, the company boasts national clients and has plans to continue its extraordinary growth.

This feature interview was first published in issue 71 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.


Both Howard’s father and grandfather had been in the Royal Air Force, and although there was no pressure for him to follow suit, he couldn’t help but follow the military path. “As a child I wanted to be an architect and I lived near Farnborough, so I used to go to the Farnborough Airshow where there was a careers event. I spent a week at sea when I was 13/14 and I fell in love with the idea. I took my entrance exam to naval college when I was still at school and got a reserve place there.

Howard might not be a strong swimmer, but he loved his days in the Navy as a Warfare Officer. When the Cold War ended in, he decided that it was time to move on. “We were looking to the future and it seemed a bit rocky,” he said. “There were big cuts in staff, less overseas deployment and fewer ships. It was a case of ‘Do I take the risk of staying in or do I start a second career?’ So I made a decision, like a lot of my colleagues, and left.”

After a few different jobs, he met ex-army Chris Buck whilst working in HR recruitment and there was an instant bond. “Chris and I had known each other for about three years. We started work at the same company together and were given two offices to run. One in Sleaford and one in Stamford for another recruitment company, working mainly on government contracts.”

“From day one we clicked, we worked well together. Chris is ex-army, I’m ex-Navy so we had good office banter.” It wasn’t long before it was suggested by a friend that that two of them should start their own company and they didn’t think that it was a bad idea.

Howard Rudder, Director of RecruitME. Photo: Steve Smailes

Howard Rudder, Director of RecruitME. Photo: Steve Smailes

A new beginning

You can take the man out of the military but it will always remain close to his heart. “The original plan a couple of years ago was to do veteran recruitment. But then, for lots of reasons, partly because of funding and the fact that it is quite a saturated market place, we decided that actually we don’t need to focus on that.

“We are both good at recruitment, we wanted to set up a recruitment company which will then allow us, once we had established and grown the business, to be able to spend more time dedicated to the whole veteran thing.”

RecruitME celebrated its first anniversary on March 2nd and already the company has doubled in size. But due to a demand for veteran recruitment Howard and Chris made the decision to bring their business plan forward. Creating a company that was 50/50 civilian recruitment and veteran recruitment.

Continue reading the full cover interview with Howard Rudder in Issue 71.

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