One of the best aspects of social media is being able to connect with old colleagues who you have lost touch with, due to geography or reason to connect. my reconnection with Duncan Cunningham is one such story. As training director for PrimeTime Recruitment, I ran a team who developed and trained literally 1000′s of recruiters who got their first break in the business.
Our strategy was to recruit and train people with no previous experience. During my time with the business we recruited heavily and opened over 100 branches across the UK. From induction (on-boarding) to director development, we helped recruit, train and develop a constantly changing workforce at every stage of their career.
One of the great things about being active in the social channels is when former colleagues stumble across each other and reconnect. Having trained so many new entrants in to the business, it’s great to hear from people who I trained in their first days in the business who have gone on to open businesses or take up senior positions so much later in their careers.
When you’ve trained a lot of people, some really stand out in your memory for a whole host of reasons. Some because they had a precocious talent that you just knew would take them far. Others who just came across as good people who it was a real pleasure to be in their company. Duncan sat firmly in both camps when he started work for PrimeTime in the Glasgow office in the early days.
Duncan stood out, not least because he was quite posh in what was essentially an industrial staffing team. He was mostly self-taught, running Perm Sales Recruitment on his own with no real guidance, just lots of enthusiasm and an infectious personality.
Duncan was also a bit of an opera singer, an unusual background in this team. With the encouragement of a few beers he would perform a full rendition of a song “wee stabby knifey” that entertained all.
Jump forward quite a few years and we crossed paths again thanks to a mix of LinkedIn and Twitter. Duncan was working for Aquent (then run by Greg Savage) in China. We exchanged messages most days about all kinds of things and spoke via Skype every few weeks. It was good to be reacquanted, and interesting for me to learn more about the market in China.
Over the last few months Duncan had ventured out on his own in Shanghai. Although it was tough getting going, I know Duncan was enjoying the challenge, working a mix of recruiting where he could get opportunities and introducing social media to companies in China. As with any new ventures, this took much of Duncan’s savings with a young family to support, but it was an investment for the future.
I was saddened recently to hear from Greg Savage the Duncan had suddenly died aged 38, leaving behind his family.
In adversity, it’s encouraging to see how recruiters band together to help in whatever way we can. For all the bravado and competition, we are actually a tight knit community. A fund has been launched to help Duncan’s family at this time.

 Whilst the cash is no doubt helpful, it must also be of some comfort to know the high regard Duncan was held in, and that others will do what they can. Aquent have started things off recognising Duncan’s 10 years plus service with a significant donation. Greg Savage is putting on a training session for 150 plus recruiters with all procedes going to the appeal. (It’s in Sydney on the 10′th August entitled New Kool v Old Skool.) Greg first covered topic in a track of the same name at #trulondon in Feb. I know it is going to be a fitting tribute. Please attend if you can.
Duncan had no life insurance, so any support you can give will be invaluable, even if it is just sharing the story. If you knew Duncan or not, recruiters stick together! Duncan had no life insurance and a young familly.
A fund has been set up to support the family. Please give what you can:

Donations can be made directly to the Family Fund via:
Bank: Commonwealth Bank Australia
Country: Australia
Bank Address: Martin Place, Elisabeth Street Sydney Bank No (or sort code):BSB - 062000 Account Number:14155368 IBAN number: Only have the swift code CTBAAU2S Account Holder’s name: The Duncan Cunningham Family Fund
Account Holder’s address: Brown Street Bronte 2024, NSW Australia

You can read Greg Savages touching post to his friend and colleague, as well as finding more detail about the event HERE

On my part I will miss @ChinaDuncan in the stream. I raise a glass to a short life well lived, and attempt a rendition of “Wee stabby knifey” not half as good. on this occasion, it doesn’t make me smile.