Andy Partlow, managing director of Alexander Daniels Offshore recruitment agency, talks to Emily Moore
HAD his aunt not been the ‘most gung-ho person you’ve ever met’, Andy Partlow’s career might have taken a very different direction – and the offshore division of Alexander Daniels might not have come into being as it did.
In fact, it was his aunt’s decision to move to Guernsey, soon after graduating from hairdressing college, which was to trigger a lifelong love of the Channel Islands in the Birmingham-born managing director of Alexander Daniels Offshore.
‘Originally, my aunt was going to work in a salon in the UK but when that fell through, and an opportunity arose to move to Guernsey, she jumped at the chance,’ Andy smiled. ‘On her first night in the island, she met her husband and has been there ever since. My mum followed her over there and lived there for three years, during which time she met my dad, who also lived there for a while.’
While his dad’s love of his home city of Birmingham saw the couple return to the Midlands, they made regular trips to the Channel Islands with their young son, instilling in him ‘a real connection with, and passion for, the islands’.
But it was not until he had graduated from university, with ‘no idea what he was going to do professionally’, that a friend suggested a career in recruitment.
‘I was working as a chef when she said that with my work ethic, and the fact that I loved working with people, she thought recruitment would be good for me,’ Andy said. ‘That was 18 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.’
After working in accountancy and finance recruitment, it was in 2010, as many friends decided to go travelling, that Andy felt that it was time for a change.
‘I didn’t want to stop working, so, on the way to work one day, I pulled over, phoned my aunt and said that I wanted to move to Guernsey,’ he explained.
Thereafter followed five years in the island before Andy returned to the UK to be with his family – and to start a new chapter of his professional life with Alexander Daniels.
‘My contract was to do accountancy and finance recruitment in the West Midlands,’ he recalled. ‘On my first day, I had a coffee with the managing director and he said: “What have you been recruiting in Guernsey?”. As I explained about the Channel Islands’ status as international finance centres, he said: “It’s crazy for us to employ you to do something you did five years ago when your passion is with the Channel Islands.”
‘And so Alexander Daniels Offshore was born over a cup of coffee on 2 January 2015.’
While that may sound like a bold step, it is worth remembering, says Andy, that Alexander Daniels itself was formed during the recession of 2009, something which he says personifies the firm’s ethos and approach.
‘When you’re formed in a recession, nothing comes to you, so you have to be very proactive to survive,’ he pointed out. ‘Not only does that approach make us stand out but it also explains why branching out into the Channel Islands wasn’t as daunting to the team here as it might have been to some others.’
For the first 18 months of Alexander Daniels Offshore, Andy recruited single-handedly for both Jersey and Guernsey but, ‘after the fastest standing start the business had seen at the time’, the decision was made to launch a Guernsey office in August 2016, which was followed by a Jersey branch two years later.
Despite the Jersey office opening just a year before Covid hit, Andy says that the offshore business has enjoyed ‘unparalleled success’ over the past six years.
‘We became a market leader in Guernsey within a couple of years, helped by the network of contacts I already had from my time in the island and the hard work of the team,’ he said. ‘Although the brand was less established in Jersey, we have built a wonderful team here and I am so proud that we are now the largest pan-island recruitment consultancy, with 17 employees across the two islands.’
That team forms part of the 50-strong Alexander Daniels Group, which also has offices in Germany, Spain, America, Birmingham and Glasgow, a reach which senior consultant Jessica Fisher says gives the teams a depth of knowledge and expertise both of different sectors and markets.
And with skills shortages challenging industries both locally and nationally, Andy says that understanding is more important than ever.
‘The recruitment market is bonkers at the moment. It is so busy,’ he said. ‘While we may technically be in a worldwide recession, there is tremendous confidence in the local economy and the finance sector, in particular, is booming. As a result, there are so many job opportunities available and, yes, there is a global skills shortage across all white-collar markets but this is an environment in which we thrive because our network, expertise and passion offers greater value to clients at a time when you cannot just advertise for a member of staff and receive a flood of applications.’
But while candidates may not be in abundance, Andy stresses the importance of placing the right person in the right role.
‘Our job is to partner with our clients to understand their journey, culture and aspirations so that we find the right candidate for them,’ he said. ‘While we need to ensure we provide someone who can do the job, they also have to fit in and embrace the culture.’
And it is not just clients’ cultures on which Alexander Daniels focus.
‘Culture is the most important thing for any business,’ Andy added. ‘You can have a great concept but without the right team, culture will always be an uphill struggle. That is why we want Alexander Daniels to be not just the best company at what it does but also the best company to work for. As a result, we have built a really strong and inclusive team, where there is a lot of focus on fun as well as on results for both candidates and clients.’
The team also, he says, feels privileged to work in recruitment.
‘When someone entrusts us with finding their first job or their next promotion, we never take that for granted,’ he said. ‘While key milestones such as marriages and births are hugely personal and significant events, nothing is really more personal than your career, as it lasts such a long time and accounts for so many hours of your day.
‘Finding the right role for people – particularly those who are entering the workplace for the first time or for whom a job will significantly change their life – is really special and we all appreciate the importance of our roles and the responsibility that comes with them.’