Eton Bridge Partners were delighted when our partners Ross Dawson, Ben Cowan and Alison Rotundo 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.
Here, we catch up with Ross Dawson, and discuss the power of kindness in an industry where success is dependent on building genuine relationships and trust.
A love of culture and people led Ross to study French and Italian at Leeds University, and while studying she also broke into sales by working at a call centre for extra cash. Ross furthered her sales experience working in sales and marketing for a superyacht magazine immediately after university.
During this time, Ross made good use of her French, Spanish and Italian skills, travelling to meet clients, attending boat shows and distributing the magazines. But the cold sales element of the role jarred with her personality. Feeling that she was missing a sense of purpose, Ross decided to seek out a role and company that better aligned with her values.
Having decided on recruitment, Ross began her career with a company that worked on team commission and relied on collaboration and integrity. This gave her the opportunity to build relationships and work as a team.
She went on to work in executive interim management solutions, with a keen focus on transformation, procurement, supply chain and operations, and then 7 years ago, after having her first child, Ross felt that EBP would be a good fit for her ethics. She immediately felt at home as soon as she walked through the doors in Windsor. “The ethics, values and team spirit are really evident. I also love working with the people I’ve got to know over many years as I know what works for them, and I can offer an informed, tailored service to my clients.”
Making connections that count
Despite a tough year for everyone, Ross says that the pandemic hasn’t changed her focus. “I continue to build the procurement and supply chain practice and fulfil transformation activity for my clients, but the market has certainly been more challenging. Some people have really needed extra or more frequent support in this unpredictable market.”
Since the pandemic, Ross sees her capacity for empathy as playing a key role in the service she provides. In a world where kindness is finally taking centre stage, Ross now allows her caring nature to take the lead. “Before Covid, I felt that my softness could be a weakness, but over the past 2 years, people have become more open to sharing their truth and my genuine desire to support people was appreciated.”
Ross said that the need for connection was clear. “A few of my contacts were struggling with confidence, self-motivation or their mental health. They wanted to speak each week, which is rare in a slow-moving market, but they just wanted to know they were on my radar. I felt a responsibility to my contacts; some hadn’t worked for a while due to the general election, IR35 or Brexit and so I worked with the individuals to offer the kind of support they needed personally, always being honest and relevant, but more bespoke to their emotional state or personal needs.”
Ross also created virtual peer networking events so her contacts (both clients and senior candidates within work or looking for their next assignment) could share their war stories and offer ideas and coaching to each other. These events were well received by her contacts, but also provided Ross with helpful insights into the rapidly evolving market. It also inspired some fascinating and useful blogs, which helped keep everyone informed during a tough time.
“I wanted to create an informal, friendly and safe space and it became something we all genuinely looked forward to each quarter. A glass of wine was also very welcome when we couldn’t go out and see loved ones! We’re looking forward to a reunion in person soon.” Ross said.
I genuinely care
Ross is determined to be honest about who she is and give her all to everything she does in life. She tries to look at the bigger picture to guide her, so she can focus on the outcome and effect that she is part of. “I really care about helping people, offering a quality service and doing the right thing by both my clients and candidates.”
“We are handling people’s businesses and careers and I really respect that and am careful with them. I truly believe we can make a real difference to our clients with our fantastic network and depth of experience in our areas. The genuine belief that we can enhance our clients’ EBITDA by positioning brilliant people with highest integrity excites me.”
Anne West MBA, MCIPS – Procurement Consultant at Helping Hands Homecare said, “Ross is extremely adept at understanding client needs and quickly puts candidates forward who match the brief with an uncanny high degree of accuracy. She reads people and situations well and this makes her an extremely effective resource problem solver. However, her greatest skill rests with her ability to maintain contact with candidates, never wasting your time and matching you with clients where there is a significant fit professionally and interpersonally. As a candidate you have someone who will place you, nurture you through any challenges and support you 100%.”
Kindness is a superpower
The pandemic has led to a blurring of lines between work and personal personas, as people are forming more genuine connections through business. This is where someone like Ross, with her capacity for genuine kindness, is able to shine the brightest.
Respected and appreciated by candidates and clients alike, Ross is known for her care and honesty. “I’d rather do the right thing than win the business, even when being more cut throat could have led to me getting the deal.” she says.
Doing the right thing isn’t always what people want to hear though, but Ross doesn’t shy away from challenging people when she feels that it’s in their best interests.
“I want to be authentic, work with integrity and teach my children that you can be successful and soft. Although I am commercial and don’t take prisoners, I am honest and vulnerable and although that’s sometimes not the most effective style for an interim consultant, people say they trust me and want to work with me because of it.”
We can see why Ross was named Runner Up in the UK Interim Consultant Provider awards, but then again, we’re biased.
“I hope the shift in human-ness remains. The big pause has offered a lot of people a sense of perspective, which I hope they’ll hold dear inevitably.” The ability to merge kindness with strength is what we believe makes Ross such a successful partner.
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