Interview with Allena Clark, Associate Director, BMC Recruitment Group
Allena Clark set up her own highly successful recruitment business in 2004. Then, in 2017, she joined BMC Recruitment Group in 2017 to head up and grow the sales and marketing and human resources divisions.
Allena is very proactive within the recruitment sector and sits on the board of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) as non-executive director, representing REC members on a wide range of key issues and topics within the recruitment sector.
What’s your career background?
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy over 30 years within an industry I love and care passionately about with a one year hiatus as a commercial director for an outsourcing centre which demanded very similar skills set.
How did your career change after having children?
My late entry into motherhood was planned and I worked for a very forward thinking lady (Irene Marvin), the then owner MD of Blue Arrow. She was open to me returning three days and then four days a week into a greenfield location which I opened and grew alongside a fantastic team.
With my second child, the experience wasn’t quite as simple and saw me travelling nationwide whilst feeding and all the complication that came alongside that – it taught me a lot about flexibility and being valued as a worker as well as a woman/mum.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Having worked my way up in the industry to board director of National agencies I finally took the leap into self-employment in 2002, it was scary and enlightening at the same time. All of a sudden I didn’t have departments to rely on, I was all of those departments and responsible for paying six wages before my own – for eight and a half years I loved every minute of it!
How did you move from idea to actual business?
A sliding doors moment for me was the realisation that my working week would have required even more hours and travel – that was the prompt I needed – with 2 young children I was conscious I needed more of a work/life balance and leaving a nice big salary and expense account was hard – however no regrets!
What’s your USP?
My passion for excellence within the recruitment industry – I was proud to be voted into a non-exec board director role within the REC (recruitment employment confederation) I have since been re-appointed and I see this as recognition for consistently delivering superb service within a highly competitive industry always with quality and integrity first and foremost.
Who’s your target audience?
These days it’s senior/exec/director level appointments and I’m proud to say many of my contacts go back more than 20 years, I manage careers not place people in a job
How do you spread the word about what you do?
We have an amazing Marketing Manager with a great strategy and I’m kept up to date from a social media perspective by my 22 year old son and 18 year old daughter – they keep me ‘current’.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Back in 2002, I believe I was before my time with a ‘sick of this’ campaign that I paid for within the Tyne and Wear metro system at strategic time eg Monday mornings. The sick of this website then diverted to Allena Clarke Appointments with all the current vacancies. It was very successful in its day!
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Sadly, the fact that people automatically refer to me as Allen when they realise I’m a business owner or Director – even these days it tells me a lot…
And your proudest moment so far?
Winning an award for business achievement presented by Des Lynam at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. It’s still up there with my all-time great moments.
Why is work so important to you?
When I was younger, I made a commitment to myself that I would never rely financially on someone other than myself – it became my driver and remains so however more so now it’s about the quality of our industry and being recognised for integrity as well as delivery.
Who inspires you?
My young people – they have overcome all sorts of adversity and keep pushing forward.
From a business perspective, it reverts back to my early mentor and MD, Irene Marvin (now sadly deceased) who was very forward thinking in her belief to invest in people – what you put in, you get back tenfold.
How do you balance your career with your family?
My son followed me into the industry so we have interesting debates, I work hard, play hard and when my young people ask me to back off of work I spend quality time with them without my phone!
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
- Open a VAT account and never use the VAT money as your cash flow.
- Find a number of trusted business advisors with differing backgrounds and become a sponge for best practice.
- It’s never too late to become a lifelong learner – I’m addicted to learning both academically, through books and also from the people I surround myself with – make sure they are radiators not drains.
You can find out more about the BMC Recruitment Group on their website.