Guest Blog: When I’m not working… | The Student Employer Magazine Autumn Edition

bright close up trees

Adam Gretton, Regional Sales Manager at Sonru, contributed to this year’s autumn edition of The Student Employer Magazine, sharing details of his initiative to fight back against climate change in his spare time. Read the full article featured, below.

In 2008, family members, friends and myself decided to set up a not-for-profit community group called ‘More Trees for Bath and North East Somerset’.

Snappy title, right? At least it does what it says on the tin! There was a funny moment during a telephone interview with a potential new Treasurer (this was before I knew about Sonru, so I had to resort to the telephone). He thought I was calling from ‘Mortuaries for Bath and North East Somerset’, and thought they were being amazingly proactive in contacting him before he’d popped his clogs.

Anyway, I digress. The main driver for setting up this group, was my increasing concern over climate change. I decided to take some positive and direct action. I read an article in National Geographic about the then Mayor of Paris who made it his mission to create as much green space in the city as possible and by then end of his term he had increased the green cover in Paris to 30%.

This really inspired me, and I started to think about what we could do in Bath. I envisaged more street trees, but we’ve found it much simpler to plant in parkland, countryside and gardens. Less red tape and slightly easier to dig holes!

I’ve been supported by amazing volunteers and despite everyone having day jobs and families etc., we’ve managed to plant over 4,000 trees so far. These have been mostly in schools and publicly accessible land, and every year we give away fruit trees to residents.

We even set up the ‘Tree Adoption Agency’ where we foster unwanted saplings until we can find them a permanent home. Anyone want a free tree?

As well as being able to offset our family carbon footprint many times over, I love the opportunity it gives me to be in the great outdoors. As much as I love my job, I also can’t wait to get home to spend time with my family and get my hands in the dirt. A keen but very amateur gardener, planting trees is a natural extension of that.

It’s also been a fantastic way to get to know like-minded people – you’d be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t like the idea of more trees, so it’s an even easier idea to pitch than video interviews!

I’ve got to know many local councillors, mayors and interesting characters that run other local projects. My favourite group recently is the Warleigh Weir Project, where I have become a Project Guardian and we’ll be planting trees there in a few weeks. Also, a number of employers have sent out teams of volunteers, having found us on Neighbourly. Most recently Danone and Nationwide Building Society – thanks again!

Eventually, we would love to get much more done – 4,000 trees isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps with more donors and volunteers we’ll be able to accelerate what we do. Please check us out at

Edward Hendrick
Ed holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agribusiness & Rural Development and a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship.

Since founding Sonru in 2007 with the vision of introducing Video Interviewing to mainstream recruitment, Ed has established the organisation as a global leader and one of the top recruitment SaaS companies worldwide.

With numerous accolades to his name such as the Sunday Business Posts ‘Top 40 Under 40’ and IIA Net Visionary award for innovation, Ed is recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in video recruitment technology and is a renowned industry speaker.

With a passion for new technology and how it can be used to make life easier for people in the real world, Ed has been instrumental in shaping the current landscape of the Video Interviewing industry.
Chris Horan
CTO at Sonru
Chris graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics and Computer Science and went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science in Physics and Computer Science as well as a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development.

With almost 20 years’ experience in the software engineering and computer science space, Chris has worked with leading technology companies such as Accuris, CAPE Technologies and BearingPoint.

Chris has been at the forefront of Sonru’s product development since the company’s inception in 2007.
Daniel Richard
Managing Director EMEA
Sonru’s Europe MD, Daniel Richard, graduated from Queen’s University, Canada with a Master of Science in Industrial and Organisational Science.

A trained Occupational Psychologist with more than 15 years of sales and consulting experience in multinational recruitment and HR services companies, Daniel leads Sonru’s sales efforts within EMEA, helping to grow its rapidly expanding customer base.

Prior to joining Sonru, Daniel spent 10 years at Oracle Taleo helping to build the company from a small regional start-up to a true industry leader. Daniel has held a variety of sales and consulting positions on various continents, including the US and Europe.
Fergal O'Byrne
Non-Executive Director
Fergal holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering from Dublin Institute of Technology and is an experienced Internet industry entrepreneur.

Since founding Interactive Return in 1998, Fergal has been a member of the Board of Directors of, WINC, and CCD Limited and was a previous chair of the Project Advisory Group for Fáilte Ireland’s eBusiness Support Initiative.

A recognised influencer within the industry, Fergal has served as CEO of the Irish Internet Association and has published four books including ‘10 Online Marketing and Search Engine Essentials’ and ‘10 Technologies Every Executive Should Know’.

In 2015, Fergal was inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
George Pennock
George holds an MA in History from Oxford University and is a previous Partner and Head of Saphir UK at Saphir Capital Partners.

George spent several years with the Goldman Sachs Group as a mergers and acquisitions banker before moving into private equity where he has spent most of the past 15 years. He has served as a Senior Investment Manager and COO at Pi Capital, and worked with Botts & Company Ltd where he made private equity investments in the leisure, publishing, branded goods, retail, and technology sectors.

Having spent the past two decades working with a myriad of talented and unconventional entrepreneurs, investing in everything from online employee benefits platforms to river boats and book publishers, George is passionate about backing exceptional people and interesting businesses and believes that while a mediocre management team can ruin even a great plan, a great management team can make a success of almost any business opportunity.
John Penning
Currently, I am a Director of Sonru, the leading Online Video Interviewing company. Previous career highlights include; CEO of the Irish Internet Association, Chairman of and Founder and CEO of Interactive Return. In 2015 I was very honoured to be inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
Rodolphe Verhaegen
Non-Executive Director
Rodolphe is currently an Operational Advisor with Digital Ventures in Brussels having previously worked in Ebay, most recently as Director of Customer Innovation.

Rodolphe is an innovative and creative business leader, with a strong interest in technology and agile software development practices. He holds an Masters Degree in Business Information Management and a BA in Business Economics from the Vrije Universiteit, Brussels.
Georges Schmit
Non-Executive Director
A native of Luxembourg, Georges graduated with degrees in Economics from the University of Louvain, Belgium (BA) and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MA). Besides his native Luxembourgish, Georges is fluent in French, English and German.

Georges served the Government of Luxembourg from 1981 to 2016 and throughout most of his career he focused on innovation and technology policy, economic development and trade and investment promotion.

During his time with the Government of Luxembourg, Georges served as Secretary General of the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy and was a member of several European Union high-level advisory bodies including the European Commission's "Enterprise Policy Group”. He also served as both Vice-Chairman and Executive Chairman of the National Credit and Investment Corporation (SNCI) of Luxembourg.

Georges has served on the Board of Directors of both listed and private companies including the world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg-based global satellite operator SES, the Luxembourg Post and Telecommunications Company, and the Luxembourg State and Savings Bank, among others. Most recently, he contributed to the design and launch of several major Luxembourg Government innovation policy initiatives and sits on the Luxembourg Government’s Advisory Board on Space Resources.
Clément Helinckx
Non-Executive Director
Clément is a member of the Saphir Capital Partner's Team. Clément worked at PwC Luxembourg for 6 years in Private Equity Audit and then as Manager in the Corporate Finance practice in Valuation, Buy-side and Sell-side advisory. He holds a MSc from IÉSEG School of Management.

Patrick Sweeney
Non-Executive Director
Patrick holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree in Accounting, Management, Human Resources, Marketing and Economics from University of Limerick as well as Masters of Education in Management, Human Resources and Training and Development from University of Sheffield.

For 25 years, Patrick held the position of Human Resources and Public Affairs Director for Aughinish Alumina where he was involved in change management, restructuring and international mergers and acquisitions.

Patrick also undertook many other leadership roles including operations management, training and development and employee relations management. In addition to sitting on the Board of Directors at Sonru since 2011, Patrick has operated his own strategic management and human resources consultancy firm for the past 8 years.