Tell us about yourself & A+F Recruitment
I come from a lovely, big Irish family and as a child we moved home a lot. My Dad loved people from all walks of life and origins and he passed this wonderful trait onto me. In turn, I have taught my children to have respect for others, to include others and to treat others as they would like to be treated. I hope that they have been listening!!
At A+F Recruitment, which is part of Vertical Markets Group, I try my best to ensure that I apply this personal mantra to my job daily. As a group, we value people’s uniqueness, which is a cornerstone of our success in this ever-competitive recruitment market.
Tell us about your background
I am not a job hopper. If I like the people, then I stay. In my career to date, I have had four employers. I trained in PWC and learnt how to work in a professional services environment and more importantly, I made some great lifelong friends.
Next stop was Morgan & Banks in Australia, where I learned how to recruit from some of the best. A little-known fact, is that I was a voluntary North Bondi Surf Life Guard and my claim to fame is that I rescued a well-known Recruiter from the sea who got caught up in a rip. This person, who shall not be named, survived thankfully and is now running a very successful agency in the UK.
I joined Morgan McKinley on my return to Ireland and in this exciting and busy role, I was instrumental in establishing a highly successful finance brand for their group.
And last, but by no means least is my role with Vertical Markets group. Here I have consolidated all this experience to establish both HR Search and A+F Recruitment. Both brands have been grown organically and by referral. We also are fortunate to have a very strong Marketing and IT department to assist.
How did you get into recruitment?
How do most Irish people get into recruitment? Well, the exact same experience happened to me.
Having arrived in Sydney, I managed to secure a permanent job with Morgan & Banks – the Australian Iconic recruitment group of the 1990’s. I went in to discuss a job with one of their clients and came out with a job offer to work for them. I was a raw recruit but they didn’t mind. They would teach me. They liked me and were prepared to invest in me.
Over the next eight years, the lessons I learned from Anne, John, Tom and Andrew remain with me to this day and are still applicable despite the world having changed so much. People are people with the same wants, needs and desires. We just need to ask the right questions and listen properly to their answers.
How has your background helped you in your role?
I am unique in that I have recruited across many different business functions, specialisations, and locations. I am running an Accounting and Finance recruitment business but I did not train as an Accountant.
When I was a child, my Mum and Dad had a restaurant in Inistioge, Co Kilkenny. My life in the restaurant trade began standing on crate at the age of eight doing the dishes. After 2 years in the kitchen, I became a waiter and my interest in people and ability to chat started at this young age and has never abated.
It is a bit of a cliché, but what better place to learn about people and what makes them tick than working in a restaurant in Co Kilkenny for more than 10 years – note to self, never open a restaurant – it is a difficult industry and not for the faint hearted but then again, neither is recruitment.
At the age of seventeen, I headed to UCD and subsequently completed an MBS in Smurfit Business School! Back then, Ireland was in recession (wasn’t it always) and so, after three great years with PWC, it was time to leave Ireland for Australia for a year or two – this became eight years and two children later.
Why did you choose to join A+F Recruitment?
I didn’t choose to join A+F – I chose to join Francis Mulcahy – owner and visionary of the business. With his big warm smile and his ability to put people at ease, it was a gut feel which has served me well.
In 2015, I joined the group to set up HR Search and this was done through hard work, determination and grit. With the help of Caoilinn, Francis, Jamie and the wonderful Sadhbh our goal was to be the number 1 go to brand for HR Recruitment in Ireland. HR Search is now a well-recognised name in HR circles across Ireland and with Niamh Kennelly now at the helm it continues to go from strength to strength.
Two years ago, once again with the support of Francis, we established A+F Recruitment. Differently to HR Search and Selection, we are positioning ourselves not as the number 1 Accounting and Finance recruitment agency in terms of size, but more importantly a recruitment firm that is recognised for how well it deals with people. Pat, Sarah and I are so proud of our achievements to date. It is safe to say, that Accounting and Finance recruitment in Ireland is highly competitive and saturated market.
None-the-less, we have proven, that with hard work, determination and care – it can be done. There is always room to make waves in a saturated market.
What have you seen change in the industry over the last few years?
So much has changed in the Recruitment industry over the past few years with Covid being the biggest game changer. The most obvious effect has been the normalisation of hybrid working plus the ability for us all to conduct meetings on-line.
Virtual working and meetings mean that a specialist accountant in Donegal can interview and work for a Multinational in Cork without ever setting foot on site. Now, while this situation may not be for everyone, this person really enjoys the challenge of the role but it is also a part-time carer to an elderly parent and this role would not have viable pre-covid.
What do you like about your role?
I always fancied myself as a matchmaker and have orchestrated several successful introductions of couples who married due to my meddling and thankfully are still going strong. Recruitment is very similar in that you are looking to find that perfect match and the way this is best done is by really understanding both parties and what is most important to each person and what they want and value most.
With regards the employer, I enjoy getting to know the industry, the business, the direction it is going in and the type of person that will add-value and help them to achieve this goal.
With regards to the job seeker, it is not just about what they can do, it is understanding how they do things, what motivates them and what will make the happy and productive in their role. It is not always about the money. Some people are looking for autonomy in their role, others want regular guidance and direction.
I live in Kilkenny and work with people across Ireland and Europe. I love the variety of people that I interact with. Having commuted long distances for many years, I love the fact that I can work from home and take the dog for a short walk at lunchtime. My Jack Russell sleeps beside my desk as I work and there is something reassuring in that. On a business level, I have never been as productive. I think and hope that my team feel as positively as I do.
What’s your favourite thing about A+F Recruitment?
My team – Pat, Sarah and Rowen are super colleagues to work with. First, they are team players, they are hardworking, loyal and caring people who believe that if you do the basics well, the rest will follow. Clear, honest and open communication is at the heart of what we do in our team. We have a laugh and don’t take things too seriously.
As a group, we get all the support that we need to do the job well. We don’t worry about KPIs and volumes – it is all about the quality.
What makes A+F Recruitment Unique?
This is easy to answer – it is the people. We are approachable, we care, we are honest and we have fun.