An interview with Alex Allison, Principal Consultant at Vertical Advantage
Alex joined Vertical Advantage as a Principal Consultant in the Supply Chain & Procurement division in June this year. Alex has been working for four years in recruitment, with three of those recruiting into the FMCG market before making the leap over to Vertical Advantage.
Alex’s pre-recruitment background includes getting degrees from University of York and University of Manchester and also playing high volume online tournament poker!
With his feet firmly planted at Vertical Advantage, Alex is excited to focus on placing exceptional candidates in Buying, Procurement and Purchasing roles. His unique approach to building relationships means he gets straight to the core of candidates’ career aspirations and works hard to help them achieve these.
We’ve decided to catch up with Alex after a few months in his new role at Vertical Advantage.
What attracted you to Vertical Advantage?
I’d been competing against Vertical Advantage on roles for the last three years. Vertical Advantage was an agency I hated to be up against – they had a habit of getting to the best candidates first! This fearsome reputation meant they were always on my radar. I’ve always thought very highly of the team.
Around the time when I was considering my own options, Vertical Advantage had just completed a rebrand. The website drew me in – the branding is now consistent with the customer base of FMCG and Consumer brands. I am highly aware that both candidates and potential customers can be quite brand focused, and a great website can be the difference between a call back and a missed opportunity.
What does Vertical Advantage do differently?
I feel there’s a lot being done in the recruitment industry to needlessly complicate a simple process. Vertical Advantage focuses on doing the simple stuff incredibly well. For example, we stay in touch with our candidates through every stage in the recruitment process, making sure that each step feels like a significant event.
We pay attention to the detail and get things done correctly first time. We achieve this through listening to our customers and to each other.
Each consultant has an inch-wide, mile-deep specialism, with a focus on networking and long-term relationships. We pride ourselves on acting in a consultative manner – this means that we love to gossip about the market! Working as true consultants helps us to anticipate the changes and shifts in the market.
How has working at Vertical Advantage compared to your expectations upon joining?
Coming into Vertical Advantage, I was hoping to work with some of the best companies in the FMCG space. It’s been great to represent some of my favourite brands.
The level of trust and freedom that I have been given in building my desk has been very welcome. During my interviews and inductions, I was given the chance to outline my vision for how things could develop, and we’ve worked hard on refining that plan.
I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to get started – the business doesn’t believe in holding you back.
How do you see your role developing?
In the short term, I get the luxury of being selfish and working to build my own desk. I love being a 360 recruiter, and I’ve really benefitted from being around elite level consultants with strong and regular billing figures. I have clear and fixed billing targets through to the end of the financial year, and I know what rewards are available to me if I get there.
Because we promote a culture of mutual support, I’ve already had the chance to run training sessions for both my team and the wider business. As the Supply Chain and Procurement division grows, I will be taking on more management level responsibilities.
What have you learned so far in your role?
I came into Vertical Advantage as the product of my environment. I only knew one way of doing things. Since joining, I’ve been able to nuance parts of my approach to the recruitment process, which has delivered immediate results, particularly in terms of my Business Development.
In terms of my own vertical specialism, I’ve learned a lot about the links between Retail Buying and National Accounts roles. I’ve also learned more about how to work effectively with Blue Chip customers.
How would you describe the office culture?
This is an office of mature people who are very focused on delivering the best results for their candidates and customers. We have a variety of personalities, and we all work really well together. We complement each other’s styles well, so strengths and weaknesses are covered across the teams.
Since I started, we’ve hired a number of enthusiastic and smart consultants, more towards the start of their careers. They’re all showing great promise, and keeping us on our toes with smart, inquisitive attitudes.
What makes your job at Vertical Advantage enjoyable?
The business has clear measures for success, and great rewards to incentivise us to be our best. In addition to individual awards, we have team goals, which bring us together as a group.
I feel really fortunate to work alongside smart, motivated people, who work hard every day on behalf of their network and customers.