CATALYST Issue 1 - Page 48

Future Proof intelligence and robotics (see article, page 8). wasn’t a process they had particular respect for and they From the outset, Blair has been driven by an innate certainly didn’t see it as a profession. And when I spoke to entrepreneurialism and an ability to transform set-backs people who worked in recruitment, I found it was something into opportunities. most had fallen into by accident.” “I’ve always been entrepreneurial,” she acknowledges. She identified an opportunity to create a talent “I started a number of businesses on leaving school, having acquisition and management organisation that transcended created small businesses form an early age; I didn’t know it the transactional and revolved around “long-term was entrepreneurship at the time, but I was creating lots of relationships, with staff who were passionate about the little things that enabled me to generate money. people agenda and understood the importance of talent “I didn’t find school particularly easy because I didn’t and of the whole candidate experience. realise until I was in my late teens that I was dyslexic; I “I felt that if I could create the right company, the best didn’t get a chance to go to university. But dyslexia was people in the industry would aspire to join that company,” one of the best things that ever happened to me, because she says. “And with clients, I felt there was a gap in the I honed a lot of other skills: of leadership, being able to market for an organisation that acted as a trusted advisor, manipulate situations to play to my strengths rather than that actually listened and consulted and would take a long- my weaknesses – and it got me involved in lots of things in term strategic approach, coming on board as a partner, not a the local community, particularly altruistic things around supplier. That was really the essence of the business: that we social justice. would become an integral part of that organisation – which “One important skill I learned was being able to see is why we always carry our clients’ brand, and everything we outside the box,” she specifies. “Whenever I have a problem, do is with that client’s mindset.” I can nearly always find an opportunity. But the biggest thing Resigning from Alexander Mann Group earlier than I developed when going through school expected to develop her idea, she was was resilience: never letting anything get persuaded by its chief executive to build in the way or get you down.” her business in-house. “I’d already Blair’s Alexander Mann Solutions secured my first client, but I ended up “The biggest thing journey began when she was 29 and doing it as a standalone business, within moved to London for a year to enhance the group,” she explains. I developed when her knowledge of big business. She going through explains: “I had a business plan I hoped Developing a school was eventually to roll out across Ireland and global mindset resilience: never beyond. But this was my year out to join a Today, 21 years on, Alexander Mann large organisation and learn everything I letting anything Solutions is major force in talent could about the recruitment industry and get in the way or acquisition and management, and different ways to structure companies.” get you down” Blair’s RPO model has been widely She set her sights on the Alexander adopted. She remains entrepreneurial Mann Group, which she felt had every but has “matured into a CEO and element she needed to broaden her skills, corporate leader”. including franchising, joint ventures The company’s current focus is on and partnerships, and where she felt she “could learn everything about how to operate and run a ‘total workforce solutions’ or as Blair describes it, “how company, but also every aspect of the recruitment industry”. organisations think about their whole workforce: the The idea of joining a company was daunting, she admits. permanent workers; the contingent workers; how they “That was my first time having a job; I’d never worked in a leverage suppliers and embrace robotics; how they’re going company properly, I was used to working for myself, doing to use AI; how to manage risk and compliance in this ever- it for myself. It was a new experience to be in the confines changing world. “I think we can play a huge role in helping organisations of a company.” However, her plans changed swiftly when she spotted to think through all that and pivot within it,” she says. Ever the innovator, she sees more opportunity than a gap in the market and decided to build a new business based on her idea of a ‘recruitment process outsourcing’ threat in the current pace of change, globalisation and transforming technology. (RPO) concept. “We’ve made a big push into the US in the past three “I think the way you create anything is by listening,” she explains. “So I spent a huge amount of time going into years, and we’ve been operating in Europe and APAC since organisations, asking questions, just listening to how and the early days, so we have a global mindset,” she says. “We’re why they did things. What struck me strongly was that, for also a learning organisation, constantly listening, growing most companies, with the exception of high-end executive and evolving accordingly.” She is confident that the company is positioned to search companies, recruitment was a necessary evil. It 48