When I started Mason Alexander in a small office on Baggot Street in 2013, there was one compelling reason for doing so; user experience. I had begun to notice that the recruitment industry had become lazy towards their customer service and that this was a direct result of both the overuse of technology and a lack of innovation. I experienced this first hand when I was looking to move into recruitment in 2010. I emailed and called several recruitment companies, with only one response; it was like emailing into a black hole. This is not just found in the recruitment industry, we have all experienced bad customer service & there can be nothing more frustrating when dealing with a company.
When it came to setting up Mason Alexander, I decided that I wouldn’t look at other recruitment firms in the market as a benchmark to what I should be working towards. I chose to look at companies from other industries, who were leaders in what they did, companies that had a proven track record of customer engagement. I was inspired by companies that were innovating the most; that made simple concepts, even more simple, but great such as AirBnB and Uber. In 2008 there were many out there, notably Airbnb, who became a global company from very humble beginnings. They put all their efforts in to making sure, that when someone booked through them, the experience would be better than booking through a hotel or hostel. Seems straightforward enough, but to get this right it takes a lot of creative thinking, hard work and a commitment to delivering the very best to the customer. Once they were able to do that, they then looked to scale the offering, but still stayed true to their core values. Uber was another company that inspired me. They took a simple idea, that focused on user experience, and with innovation and creativity, completely revolutionized their industry. It seems so long ago that to get a taxi, you had to go out on the road and hopefully hail one down whilst making sure you had money in your wallet. How could I replicate the thinking of these market disruptors and apply it to recruitment? How could I challenge the status quo in what was a very traditional industry?
In my first year, I was a one man band competing with the goliaths in recruitment. To stand out, I had to identify the features that set me apart. The core value I distinguished then, ring true in Mason Alexander today – customer service. I was, and still am, fiercely passionate about anyone who deals with Mason Alexander, gets air time. I made sure that anyone who contacted me would have a better experience then if they were to deal with another recruitment firm. This means responding to every email and phone call. I meet every person I deal with in order to challenge their thinking, find out their motivations and the reasons behind why they make decisions. My job is to listen, understand and consult in order to provide solutions to both my candidates and clients. This often involves working long hours and networking relentlessly so I can be in a position to introduce people to one another, and to the right people. At Mason Alexander, we regularly host events to share ideas and insights in to the market; and in order to connect people. One of the most important qualities I pride myself on is being honest to my clients and candidates, about where Mason Alexander can help them and if, we cannot meet their requirements. The aim was to make the perfect user experience and to deliver every single time. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, but the drive for excellence has always been behind everything that I do.
Like most entrepreneurs, I dream big, very big. I felt from the beginning, that Mason Alexander would be a global firm. The reason being was I saw our potential for growth, and I love being challenged and doing things that really excite me. The ambition that Mason Alexander has to make a global impact is very different to the majority of other firms in the recruitment market. Some of the larger players have consolidated and are doing very well and probably happy not to risk too much (which I understand) and small firms can do well with 2-10 people and don’t have the to take on all the headaches of growing the business (which I can definitely understand).
I have always been told that the second hardest thing in business is managing to get through the first year; the hardest thing, is to grow past that. 5 years in to Mason Alexander and I can attest to that first hand. The level of quality customer experience is much easier to manage when you are one person as opposed to having 25 people in the business. But the great thing is, you innovate and take the biggest leaps, when you are small. As a company, this is exactly what were are doing; taking big leaps.
Our commitment to user experience, providing solutions and offering innovative services and products are greater than they have ever been. We are currently in the process of rolling out 4-5 new ideas which will introduce new and exciting additional services offered by Mason Alexander. We are constantly thinking of newer, bigger, better ideas to introduce to our customers. All of our changing and innovating is being done so that we are able to offer customers the best experience they have ever had when looking to add someone to their team or to make that next career move.
With our commitment to excellence and delivering new offerings, we needed to hire a COO who could help us execute this. I didn’t advertise the position (because I don’t like job specs) but put it out to the market with only one condition – the person would have no experience in recruitment. The reason being is, if you want to change an industry, you cannot hire someone from the same one. They have to come with new ideas. We were very fortunate to hire Barry Doyle, who’s previous two companies were some of the most innovative technology firms in Ireland in recent years.
So what now? A question I keep asking myself when I get some time to reflect (normally late at night!). How can we improve? How can we make the experience of working with Mason Alexander the very best there is? It starts with listening to clients and candidates and hand crafting what they want and what they look for in a recruitment offering. It includes introducing more services that will add more and more value to our clients’ talent acquisition and management. We also plan to open an international office over the next year. We are constantly growing our team and supporting them in order to help them fulfil their huge potentials.
To scale all of this to a large volume, takes a lot of hard work. If we can achieve it, we will create an offering like no other. Our customers will have the best experience they have ever had and for me, that is the biggest driver. We are daring to dream and setting no limits to where we can go. The future of Mason Alexander is incredibly exciting; and I hope to be able to share that with as many of you as possible.