Welcome to the Tough Cookies series where we interview and celebrate the strong and determined individuals who are making waves in the tech industry.
What better person to start these interviews with than the lovely Alicia, co-founder of SR2 Recruitment who has had an instrumental involvement in redefining misconceptions about recruiters, and is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to getting involved in the community. This woman is not only an inspiration to other business leaders who want to do good alongside their work but a perfect example of what it takes to be a tough cookie!
What is SR2 and what brought you to work there?
SR2 stands for Socially Responsible Recruitment, we are an IT recruitment company based in Bristol with a double bottom line that measures our contribution to society as well as our monthly turnover figures. We want to combine best practice in recruitment with customer service and integrity, honesty and transparency. Which is no easy task – but then we’re a pretty determined bunch of people. With 24 years’ experience in IT recruitment, working with companies of various sizes from start- up to multinational.
Founded by myself, Chris, Steve and Nath we have a pretty comprehensive view of the industry. We also have a vision of a different way of doing things – one that is not only financially successful but socially responsible. For all of us here at SR2, it’s about getting that perfect balance. Sure, we like the good things in life. But we like making a positive impact on the people around us even more. And we believe it’s possible to do both.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Not one day-to-day is the same, it definitely keeps me on my toes. It could be anything from finding great candidates, meeting clients, interviewing people to join the SR2 family. To organising one of the 10 meet-ups we now run.
I founded Bristol Technology Volunteers which we are re-launching in the next month where we have partnered with a tech start-up who have created a new platform for volunteering – watch this space! Also I Co-organise Bristol Codebar with Jaycee. Then there is Women Rock, the platform built to promote diversity and inclusion in Bristol. I also host Yena and speak at a few events and podcasts. I’m currently working with OVO to run a very unique meet-up in Bristol before the end of the year, I’m so excited for it!
I also find time to eat, gym and sleep Even though I and we all juggle a lot outside of typical recruitment. We have a great work-life balance and I certainly know when to take a break.
What part of the tech industry most excites you at the moment?
Start-ups! It’s been kind of my bread and butter for the last 2 years helping them grow. I love the fast pace, the culture and the partnership you can build where you feel like an arm of their company.
What does your desk look like at work?
I’d love to say it’s perfectly tidy but as I type this, it’s covered in post-it notes, a week old Kiwi, 2 cups, and my grandad’s poem – Don’t quit! I like to think of it as organised chaos!
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face in your career and how did you overcome it?
Saying No has been quite a big challenge for me since starting up SR2/Women Rock. We wanted to build the brand quickly and shout about what we are doing but with that came with a lot, from as I mentioned all the events which we do in our spare time to travelling across the South West and London to speak at events and also growing the team to now 15 (but 15 amazing people I couldn’t do this without).
“Around May time this year I was so close to burn out, I was exhausted but I knew it and so did Chris.”
Around May time this year I was so close to burn out, I was exhausted but I knew it and so did Chris. I am a bit of a control freak so letting some responsibility go and I have my brilliant friend and agile coach at OVO Georgie come in an ‘agile my life’ to basically map out what I was doing, what was important, what could wait and what I should say no to. I feel a million times better now I have the girls supporting me with Women Rock. We have hired an office manager (I can’t believe we coped without her for so long) she helps with all the meet-ups and Chris is supporting on Bristol Tech Volunteers so my time is now a lot more protected.
What does success look like to you?
There’s quite a few things here. This has changed a lot in my career, when I first started in recruitment I honestly loved making money but revenue isn’t what success means to me anymore. I have a goal and more focused than ever to promote SR2, Women Rock and change the face of recruitment! I absolutely love what I do, I love Women Rock and the joy I get from sharing someone’s story, especially when they don’t think they are good enough to have their story heard which I still find bonkers!
“We have just been shortlisted for ‘start-up business of the year’ at the South West Leaders Awards”
And then charity… We recently chose our new charity partner Changes Bristol a mental health charity. What they do is unbelievable, they don’t get much funding so for us to support them and donate 5% of our profits this year to them we know will make such a difference to the people in who both volunteer and also the people who use need them. They have told us our donation is going towards a dedicate new group either focused on men’s mental health or LGBTQ+. We donated over £17,000 to our last charity and hoping this year we can double that contribution. Mental Health is a very close subject to me personally so I am even more driven and dedicated so we can donate as much as possible and also help them with volunteering.
We have just been shortlisted for ‘start-up business of the year’ at the South West Leaders Awards and I found out last week that I am a finalist for the ‘Rising star award’ – I mean, just to be shortlisted and also a finalist is amazing but if we or I win it will be a huge achievement for what we have achieved in 2 years!
What is the number one tip you would give to young people looking to get a career in the tech industry?
Do it! I wish that in school I was shown more than how to use word and excel. There are so many amazing opportunities in Technology whether that be in gaming, creating an education product or even technology for bionic limbs! The world of tech never ceases to amaze me with what people are creating and anyone can do it!
If you could give one piece of advice to 15-year-old Alicia what would it be?
To my 15-year-old self: ‘Be more, with less’
To my 18-year-old self: Don’t get out a credit card!