By Claire West

During a week when football referees have been in the spotlight more than ever before, Graham Poll, perhaps the most famous of them all, has spoken out about a different side of his life — and how his refereeing career has helped its success.

While Poll’s work on the pitch has made him the first celebrity referee ever, what isn’t quite so well-known is the fact that he was a highly successful sales director before and during his footballing career.

He now focuses on his business skills as sales director of Catch Resource Management, one of country’s most well-respected and fast-growing IT recruitment companies.

Poll says that his sporting experiences has taught him about teamwork and transparency as well as managing temperament and talent — all skills that play a large part in the world of recruitment.

With the Clattenburg affair still front of mind he says that it is the need for more transparency in both business and sport that is really the burning issue at the moment.

“If referees words during the match were recorded for reference, it would be far easier to judge Clattenburg’s behaviour for once and for all.

“Misunderstanding and accusations happen in all walks of life. Especially, and all too often, in the world of recruitment where both clients and recruiters often hear what they want to hear instead of listening carefully and being honest about what they need and what they can offer.

“Success in recruitment also depends on matching up the needs of a client with that of the candidate — just like balancing the demands of players during a match,” he says.

“In IT, clients are increasingly demanding that recruitment consultants have technical skills themselves so that they understand exactly what is needed.”

Poll joined Catch at the end of 2010 after a sales career which spanned both the FMCG and business-to-business markets and employers including Canon UK and Coty UK where he worked for seven years, overseeing a rapidly expanding direct sales force. Says Jeremy Bingham, Catch managing director:

“Graham has galvanised the sales team to deliver results, but to do so with integrity. It has been gratifying to see clients reactions to him when attending meetings whether discussing business needs or current sporting issues.”