Ann Swain: "I can see the future of recruitment right here, and that turns me on."

December 25th, 2016
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“I can see the future of recruitment right here, and that turns me on.”
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If Ann Swain was running for Prime Minister, President, or even all round ruler of the world, I would vote for her every time. A phenomenal business leader, when she walks into a room, I fight this constant urge to stand up as a mark of respect. However, she’s also one of the funniest leaders I’ve met. She doesn’t stand on ceremony, has no problem making fun of herself and manages to inject laughter into every single thing she does.

We’re sitting on a wrought iron bench underneath a huge oak tree, sheltered from the burning afternoon sun. Chandeliers of candles are hanging from the huge trees overhead, and tea-lights in jam jars drop from every branch. Straight in front of us is the impressive Chateau Challin, majestically sweeping across our horizon.

Honestly, there’s no one I’d rather be sitting with enjoying this view than Anne Swain, CEO of APSCo and all round witty genius.

So how have you found it so far?

I think it’s been incredible actually. It’s a completely different experience to anything I’m used to. And it’s a great group of people that are sharing ideas and talking. And the camera team have been unbelievably professional.

They’re amazing.

Aren’t they just. I don’t know if it’s always like that when one does these sorts of things, but it looks pretty shit hot to me. I think the professionalism is incredible. I mean, as an experience, you would just sign up every year wouldn’t you?

So you’re doing it again then?

Easily! I think it’s been fun and it’s amazing. I’m so intrigued to see the end product because I think it’s going to look pretty sexy. Even if there wasn’t a final product, it’s still been worth everything.

What were you expecting before you got here?

I didn’t have much time to think about it in detail to be honest. I was off for a while previously, so I don’t feel like I’ve been match fit.

Really! Because there has been absolutely nothing this week that has given away that you are not on top of your game.

Why thank you, that’s good.

Who’s impressed you so far from the candidates?

I would say the American women look impressive. They speak impressively. But, as the chair of the European side, I haven’t had that much time with them. But they are brought up to put it out there, so they’re very impressive to Europeans.

Candidates aside, who have you loved getting to know?

Bruce Trewhella is very impressive. Randy Moore is too. Lovely guy, really passionate. I mean he does talk a lot, which I’ve been mercilessly teasing him about, bless him. Matt Sauri is also impressive. I also tease him a lot. I love winding them up. I think Jack Felice is a gentleman.

Everyone loves Jack.

Did you see his wife thought?

Annie.

She’s phenomenal.

I know!

It’s lovely having the wives here of some of the guys.

Yeah they told me yesterday that they were the bosses of the bosses on the show, so really they’re the real bosses around here. 

Well you can’t argue with that.

On the European side there’s some smart, able cookies actually. Some of them I obviously know. I know Johnny Campbell who’s very smart. And Jon Dweck. He’s kind of new age. I call him my muesli eating recruiter.

Tom Glanfield runs a great business. I think there’s a huge group of impressive people.

I know you already know quite a few people, but who have you met, that you didn’t know previously, that you’ve really gotten on with?

Torin Ellis is absolutely lovely and very interesting. He’s sort of inspirational as well.

I’m taking a shine to Gavin, who doesn’t say much, but what he does say is very smart.

You’ve got a very broad overview of the recruitment market where you sit. What do you think is the biggest issues we’re currently dealing with?

Well, I know that recruitment companies say that their biggest issues are recruiting talent for themselves. Their second issue is motivating and developing that talent to become senior leaders in the business.

What about the corporate side of things?

Well research has shown that they also have a talent shortage, and we’re not finding enough people with the skill sets and potential. It’s basically bloody talent that’s the issue.

What do you think Top Recruiter is doing for our industry?

I think it’s bringing people to share ideas, which is always good, and with a product at the end that I’m confident will raise the game of the recruitment market.

I think it has the potential to promote a career in recruitment to those people who look at it. It will promote the profession and integrity of the recruitment market and that’s a great thing. You’ve got some smart, able, talented people here, and even with a lot of champagne on board, they’re representing themselves, and our profession, brilliantly.

What do you think you’ll take from this?

I’m a pretty passionate kind of girl, and I’m very driven. And the reason I work in a trade body instead of making five times more money in a recruitment company is because I do feel strongly about showing the recruitment market as a profession rather than an industry. And my passion and enthusiasm has never waned. But I think I will come away from this feeling confident in the future of the recruitment profession. I can see the future of recruitment right here, and that turns me on.

What’s been your favourite moment so far?

There was a bit of brainstorming with Stephanie about her idea, and Gavin came up with this amazing idea that was such a lightbulb moment. And straight away, the whole group just agreed because it was so good. It was this blinding glimpse of creativity, and it was amazing.

Are you going to stay in touch with any of these guys?

Oh yeah. I can just see it happening. You know who is really very nice, Jerona Noonan. She’s smart and I’ve taken a big shine to her. I like the cut of her jib, if you know what I mean.

With that we both haul ourselves off the bench and start the walk up to the castle as Ann tells me about the book she wrote a few years ago. I try not to gawk as I wonder if there’s anything this woman can’t do, and I hope that when I grow up, I’m just like her.

Would you like to work in recruitment in London?