Eton Bridge Partners were delighted when our partners Alison Rotundo, Ben Cowan and Ross Dawson and were named runners up in the Institute of Interim Management’s Consultant of the Year rankings in association with The IIM Interim Management Survey report.
In this series, we spoke with each of them to find out what drives them, how they work, and what makes them different.
In this article, we speak to Alison Rotundo, whose 20 years of experience in the industry has generated a rich network of high-quality talent, and a great deal of meaningful connections.
Looking for holiday work to bridge the gap between university and doing a master’s degree, Alison was told by several recruitment companies that she would make a great consultant. And there are many people who are grateful that Alison put further learning on the back burner so she could focus on recruitment.!
Now, over 20 years later, Alison has worked her way up through several high-profile recruitment firms, always in finance recruitment, and mostly in interim rather than search, leading to countless placements and repeat business – where candidates become clients and vis versa – across the globe.
Despite her success, Alison found that the higher level she became in each company, she was spending less time recruiting and more time managing a team. It was a search for opportunities to get back to the recruitment that she loved, and to utilise her growing network, that led to her joining Eton Bridge nearly 10 years ago, where she is now an Interim Management Finance Partner.
“Alison‘s energy and enthusiasm underpin her ability to maintain an incredibly wide network of quality contacts across numerous business sectors and I have found this invaluable when looking for ’the’ suitable candidate,” says Paul Hopkinson, Group Finance Director
The impact of the pandemic
Alison notes that the pandemic and the rise in remote working has made it easier for candidates and clients because there was less of a concern about the location of either. With Alison working on many international placements, she reports that few of them are based in the same country as their employer.
“Remote working has opened up a lot of opportunities for candidates and clients to look further afield,” Alison says.
But as things are beginning to open up, more clients want their people to go into the office a few days a week, which means that location is a consideration once again.
Alison also noted a distinct change in the kind of roles she was placing at the start of the pandemic.
“Things were very quiet in CFO roles, which is usually our number one role, but we remained busy placing all of their direct reports. The uncertainty of Covid meant that we were particularly busy in financial planning and analysis, treasury, and group financial controller roles. But now that things are starting to return to normal, there has been a significant upturn in the CFO market.”
From a strongly client led market at the start of the pandemic, the shift over to a candidate led market is driving changes to the pace of the recruitment process.
“We’re now seeing more candidates with multiple offers – even with offers on the day that they interview – and this is also pushing an increase in day rates.”
There’s also a change in how candidates want to work. Alison pointed out that Covid has made more people evaluate their work life balance, with many requesting a 4-day week. And it seems that clients are generally more open to this than they were before the pandemic, which has forced a focus on productivity, rather than hours.
The impact of IR35
Despite the year-long delay, and the amount of time and energy it consumed, it seems that IR35 has had less of an impact than predicted. “The market is now so candidate led, that candidates get to choose and many are refusing to consider roles that are inside IR35. But thankfully, businesses are getting more confident about sitting roles outside IR35 now that things are settling down.”
Competitive in work and play
It’s a love of early morning workouts that gets Alison up in the morning, which helps keep her grounded even when things are hectic in and outside of work. A keen runner and cyclist, she does a variety of sports along with lots of long walks with the family goldendoodle.
“I don’t like surprises so I’m very detail orientated, I write an agenda for every meeting and every brief is very detailed. I’m not afraid to ask stupid questions if it means that I can fully understand the company and the job.” Maintaining a keen eye on the processes is also key to Alison’s success, as well as a strong work ethic which often sees her working out of hours to get the job done.
But it’s her relationships that really set her apart from the rest.
“As I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, I have a rich network. I have placed some people multiple times and recruited for them multiple times. This means that a lot of the people on my shortlists will have worked through me before, so I have first-hand knowledge that I can trust them.”
Roger Lovegrove, CFO, said “Not only is Alison clearly well respected and networked in the interim finance marketplace but she is a genuinely friendly person who values long term relationships with her candidates. She is ultra-professional, hard-working, very supportive and nothing appears to faze her.”
A team effort
Alison was keen to point out that her nomination is the result of the team and support she feels at Eton Bridge. “I am successful thanks to the team that supports me. The researchers, the executive assistants, finance team all my other colleagues… we all work hard. And while my name might be on the nomination, it really is a team award.”
Alison is looking forward to a return to more face-to-face meetings, while continuing to support and nourish her relationships with clients and candidates.
“The last 18 months have really taken me back to my roots,” Alison said. “I have always highly valued my network of relationships, but as things have been tough, you appreciate them even more. This means that I’m doubling down on re-establishing my existing relationships and expanding my network through referral rather than cold calling.”
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