Tony Goodwin, founder of Antal International, thought recruiting middle managers for emerging markets might prove profitable. In 1994, using £10,000 in personal savings, he quit his job at a recruitment company to open his own office in London. Operating in emerging markets has not been without its infrastructure challenges. When Simon Harding, now managing director, joined the company he headed off to Budapest, Hungary. From his new apartment, he rang Goodwin to ask for directions to the office. “You’re standing in it,” replied Goodwin. “If you look under the desk there are two folders: one labelled clients, the other candidates.” Still, Goodwin’s hunch has paid off. In the last year alone, Antal, with turnover of £3.9m, has added nine new offices in places such as Warsaw and Bucharest, bringing the total to 17. It places managers in 58 countries, with 90% of sales coming from overseas. Exports account for more of its sales than any other company on the list. Clients include many of the largest multinationals, such as Coca Cola and General Electric.
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