Business Small Business

Friday 29 August 2014

How social media and Vanessa changed recruitment

One woman's desire for a work and home life balance led her to start a global virtual business

Sean Gallagher

Published 13/07/2014 | 02:30

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HARNESSING POTENTIAL: Vanessa Tierney, above with Sean Gallagher, is a born entrepreneur. Photo: Gerry Mooney

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today, and especially those in the IT sector, is how best to source the right staff. This is not just a problem that exists in Ireland but is a global phenomenon faced by even the largest IT firms throughout the world.

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One Irish woman, Vanessa Tierney, has now come up with a fresh and innovative solution that is changing the way such companies access new talent. Today, her business, Vanty International, is experiencing rapid expansion as companies everywhere realise the potential of what she has created.

Vanessa Tierney set up Vanty International, in 2011, as a new type of international recruitment agency.

"We are a global virtual talent agency" explains Vanessa. "Global in that we provide talent solutions to companies all over the globe and virtual, in that we have staff and associates located across six different continents and in locations that include the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Benelux, the US, Canada, Latin America, Hawaii, South Africa and Australia."

Her company works with some of the world's top 1000 IT firms, among them SAP, Fujitsu, Symantec, Oracle, EMC, Qliktech, ServiceSource, Fincad, Fleetmatics, Coupa and Ebay.

Because of their ongoing focus on bringing new products and services to the market, these companies are continuously confronted with trying to recruit the right talent. Many too are entering new markets for the first time and need both permanent and contract staff to support their expansion plans in these countries.

"Many customers we work with, especially high growth US firms, tend to see the EU as one big country. But they quickly realise that each country has their own employment laws and these can vary considerably from country to country," explains Vanessa. "Because our team members are native to their territories, they understand, not just the law, but local cultural issues which can be important when building an effective team.

"Our greatest point of differentiation is that global companies can now choose one company to look after all their recruitment needs even when that requires finding talent for their operations in multiple countries," she says.

"We offer them one point of contact, whether in the country they are based or in the country they are recruiting for. That way they do not have to explain their needs to multiple companies across multiple territories."

Her company sources 
permanent talent, right up to senior management level, as well as providing instant or temporary talent for both short or long term contracts. Many firms now outsource their entire recruitment needs to her, including placing initial advertisements, dealing with applications and interview scheduling as well as checking references, helping with employment contracts and on-boarding and induction of new employees.

Her market mapping service allows companies map their competitors around issues such as compensation and benefits so that they can appropriately pitch their own salary levels to attract the calibre of talent they require.

One of the most innovative aspects of her business is the Vanty International Early Talent Programme. Here Vanessa and her team recruit graduates who go on to complete a five-day intensive training and assessment programme after which employers can select those candidates with the right success DNA to match their company's needs.

"We now know that only 30pc of a candidate's potential relates to their experience, while the remaining 70pc has to do with their personality, motivation, behaviours and ability to learn. We believe that if you can identify graduates who have this important 70pc, then a company can easily train them in the specific skills they will require to suit their own long-term needs," insists Vanessa. "We are now in a position to introduce Human Analytics Technology which enables us to predict and assess this 70pc which is fast becoming key to the future of recruitment."

Originally from Bray, Co Wicklow, Vanessa Tierney is a Commerce and International Business graduate from UCD. But her most significant entrepreneurial influence came long before that, when in secondary school she entered the Young Entrepreneur Competition. She was just 15.

Her project, a children's cook book, reached the National finals - and went on to sell more than 10,000 copies. From that moment on, she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur.

"I was hooked," she tells me. "Hooked on the adrenalin that comes from making a new idea work."

Later, she came across a concept in the US that would eventually form the basis of her first business, that of recruiting and training graduates for jobs.

"I decided that I could flip this around and actually charge companies to train graduates in advance of hiring them" explains Vanessa.

On her return to Ireland, she opened the School of Sales on College Green in Dublin. It was a tough first two years for the brave new entrepreneur but her business managed to train over 2,000 graduates for companies such as Dell, Oracle, SalesForce and the Golden Pages.

"It was slightly mad now when I look back," explains Vanessa laughing. "I was 23 years old and paying over €50,000 a year in rent alone."

She almost went on to achieve the perfect exit when she received an offer to buy the business. However, at the final stages and due to the oncoming downturn in the economy, the buyer pulled out. Shortly afterwards, she was forced to close the business.

"While it was hard to accept at the time, I learned a lot from that experience. I learned just how much I really liked helping people reach their potential. I also learned just how much the whole recruitment process needed to be improved and streamlined.

"Many recruitment companies would simply throw CVs at busy employers in the hope than one would work out. I wanted to change that and become an embedded partner of the company in their entire recruitment process," she tells me.

For the next three years she worked in the recruitment industry. It was, however, while recovering from an illness that she began to explore opportunities that would allow her get back to work but still have the time and flexibility to focus on her recovery. She contacted some of her former clients and asked if they felt there were any gaps in the recruitment market.

The feedback was overwhelming. Most identified the lack of a boutique type agency that was "truly" global and had team members on the ground in different countries. With advancements in cloud computing, skype video calls and social media, Vanessa immediately joined the dots and realised there existed the potential to create a virtual global agency.

She decided too, that she would specialise in the IT sector where she recognised there would be ongoing demands for talent into the future.

"I wanted to develop a new type of business model for the industry where really top recruiters and talent experts could work as part of a bigger team, where they could work on global contracts and yet still be able to maintain a healthy balance between their work and family lives," she explains.

"The fact that I got pregnant at the same time only served to further strengthen my resolve to create a structure which offered flexible working hours, eliminated unproductive time spend commuting and allowed people work from home if they so wished," she adds.

She attributes the ongoing growth of her business to her dedicated team of staff and associates. "Not only have they vast experience in sourcing talent within the technology industry, they are the most committed, passionate, caring, multi-cultural group of all-around amazing people I have ever worked with. I am so incredibly proud of what they have created for themselves and for each other."

Vanessa's vision for the business is to grow the number of her team members to over 100 and achieve sales of in excess of €10m by 2017. She also wants the company to become one of the most recognised and regarded talent solutions providers for high growth technology companies in the world. She believes too that she could be of help to organisations such as the IDA and Enterprise Ireland by helping overseas companies find the right staff for their operations here and also help find the right staff for Irish companies seeking to expand abroad.

Vanessa Tierney is a true entrepreneur. She realised at an early age that she wanted to run her own business. She found an area of business that she loved and that played to her strengths; helping individuals achieve their potential and helping companies source the talent they need to grow their businesses.

She learned her trade, did her market research and came up with fresh and innovative solutions to tackle a growing and global problem within the recruitment sector.

And she has created opportunities too for a new way of working that harnesses the potential of technology and allows her staff operate in a world where work and family life can now both be honoured.

 

Company Name: Vanty International

Business: Global talent solutions for high growth companies

Set up: 2011

Founder: Vanessa Tierney

Turnover: On target to achieve €1.5m in 2014

Number of staff: Currently 23, expanding to 40 in 2014

Location: HQ in Dublin with offices in the UK, Madrid and New York.

 

VANESSA'S ADVICE FOR OTHER BUSINESSES

 

1. Don't always listen to people who say it can't be done

"Most entrepreneurs think ahead of the curve and for this reason many people will not understand your vision. When looking for a good sounding board, choose successful entrepreneurs who have already walked a similar path to that which you are now on."

2. Your people are your greatest asset

"This is something many of us know - but fail to honour. Believe it, live by it and treat your team with the greatest respect for their work, their time and their personal investment. Even during challenging times, make sure to encourage and support your team."

3. What doesn't break you will make you stronger

"Often it is the challenges you face and the obstacles your overcome, that make you stronger and more determined to succeed. It helps to remember that you are doing this not just for yourself, but for your team, your customers and everyone who ever believed in your vision."

Sunday Indo Business

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