Ep 10 – Oconic’s Paul Daley on Cutting through the complexities of Strategic M&A in the Global Recruitment Process Outsourcing Industry

Watch the Full Episode (50 mins)

Recruitment Transactions International (RTI) is the first global matching platform for buyers, investors, and sellers in the recruitment and staffing industry.  For our 10th podcast, RTI Managing Partner Simon Childs and Oconic Managing Partner Paul Daley discuss the evolution of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and its various models. 

Paul highlights the challenges and strategies of RPO integration within larger recruitment businesses and shares insights into the complexities of RPO M&A, including stakeholder alignment, deal team structure, and market trends. He also explores the perspectives and considerations of both sellers and buyers in RPO M&A deals, highlighting a case study of an M&A deal in China that offers a glimpse into successful integration.


  • Running a business during M&A can be challenging, as it can distract from day-to-day operations and impact financial performance.
  • In a case study of an M&A deal in China, Paul Daley highlights the importance of understanding market access issues and building a strong relationship with the buyer.
  • Successful integration requires upfront communication and clarity on expectations, including preserving, refining, and absorbing different aspects of the selling organization.
  • For CEOs looking to sell their RPO business, it is important to consider the ideal capital partner, understand the buyer’s M&A strategy, and ensure alignment on culture and customer focus.
  • The future of RPO includes consolidation in the market, differentiation of offerings, a shift towards platform-as-a-service models, and the emergence of new entrants and technologies.

Paul is the Founder and Managing Partner of Oconic. With over 20 years of experience in HR Technology, RPO, and the Human Capital Management Industry, Paul has gathered a wealth of experience growing businesses across the globe at HP, Kornferry, and Cielo.  As a member of the founding team and SVP at Cielo, he was instrumental in scaling the business from 30 employees to over 4000, serving customers in over 100 countries. His roles have spanned commercial leadership, revenue growth, and most recently corporate development and M&A. In addition, Paul has been an active Angel Investor, Advisor, and Board member of HR Tech businesses for over 13 years.

Key Talking Points:

[00:21] Introduction and Background

[04:10] Evolution of RPO

[06:32] Innovative and Creative RPO Models

[08:34] RPO Trends in Different Markets

[10:23] Challenges of RPO Integration in Larger Recruitment Businesses

[12:46] Challenges and Strategies in RPO M&A

[20:48] Selling and Buying in RPO M&A

[25:51] The Challenges of Running a Business During M&A

[28:14] Case Study: M&A in China

[34:02] Keys to Successful Integration and Advice for CEOs

[43:43] The Future of RPO

Watch the Highlights: Advice to CEOs of Recruitment Businesses Looking to Sell (1.5 minutes)