As another year draws to a close, many people’s attention often turns to New Year resolutions – like finding a new job. We asked freelance journalist Stephanie Spicer to speak to the boss of a specialist recruitment consultancy to find out what makes her business tick
If a business in the health, wellbeing and protection sector is looking to recruit new staff the chances are at some point they will cross the paths of Morgan Keating.
Established in 1986 as a predominantly sales and marketing recruitment agency, over the years the business has evolved into one of the leading specialist health and well-being recruitment consultancy based in the UK.
At its head is managing director Vanessa Hirsch-Angus (pictured), who knows the industry in and out. Previously she was customer service director at AXA PPP International and headed up customer service for AXA PPP healthcare. It was perhaps here, where she had leadership responsibility for over 300 staff and managed FTSE 100 key clients, brokers and account executives, that she gleaned an appreciation of how the market and its component individual staff work and how best to bring those together.
A BROAD PERSPECTIVE
Certainly Hirsch-Angus feels that having worked in the healthcare market for over 17 years, both on the domestic and international side, she understands it very well.
“I firmly believe that organisations are only ever as good as the people they employ and the talent that they develop, which is why I decided to move into recruitment,” she says. “Having been on both sides of the fence I understand the need for us to work in partnership with organisations and to know what the values and strategic goals are so that we recruit people who fit both culturally and organisationally and who can add absolute value to the business as well as feeling that they themselves are valued for what they bring.”
For Morgan Keating the focus on the private medical insurance sector really only began in 2001 as it became apparent there was a growing need for talent within the broad healthcare market. Since then the company has built what it believes is a strong reputation for placing candidates within the insurer and intermediary sector and not just in the UK and internationally as well.
“As our reputation in the healthcare market grew and developed we were asked by clients to recruit for a range of disciplines within the sector,” says Hirsch-Angus. This included not only sales and marketing but operations and underwriting posts but also in other related market sectors within employee benefits and healthcare, such as employee assistance programmes operations, occupational health, cash plans, health screening, absence management and wellness companies.
Hirsch-Angus says experience and knowledge of the sector has meant she and her team have been able to form strong partnerships with clients which she believes is based on integrity and trust.
“They know we can sourcing the right talent for them and they can also use us to provide consultative recruitment support where needed,” she says.
The health and well-being industry is a competitive one but Hirsch-Angus says that most markets are in reality. Not that she sees this as a problem.
“I don’t think you should shy away from competition but relish it as a means to improving your own performance and that of your business,” she explains. “I am absolutely focused on our being the best that we can be and on creating relationships of trust by doing what we say we will do and delivering on both service and value, both to our clients and to the candidates for the jobs.”
Hirsch-Angus says it is not just large companies that use the services of recruitment specialists.
“If we can help support an organisation we will regardless of the size or scope of that company. Of utmost importance is that we can help them to be even more successful through the acquisition of talent,” she says.
Despite issues within the wider economy and challenges in the healthcare sectors as individuals and companies cope with demands on financial resources, Hirsch-Angus believes when it comes to finding talent the market is strong.
A BUSY MARKET
“The market is busy at the moment for a variety of reasons and you can sense that there is increasing positivity generally,” she says. “There are always people looking for the next step in their career for a variety of reasons.”
However she adds that it can be more difficult to recruit high quality people because they are often very well thought of so the environment for them to move needs to be right.
“Consolidation in both the insurer and intermediary market creates a mix of both optimism and uncertainty and both of those things create movement,” she says. “I think it’s really healthy for organisations to bring in fresh talent and to be constantly open minded to potential talent whilst being careful not to neglect developing the people they have.”
Nevertheless Hirsch-Angus says forward thinking companies are always on the look out for fresh talent: not necessarily for new or junior staff – it could be they are looking for very experienced employees who bring something different to the organisation.
“I think there is a tendency within recruitment to move people around rather than search for people who really are the right fit and who bring something extra,” says Hirsch-Angus. “That is an area that we are very focused on. I believe that if you have the right relationship with a company as their recruiter they will be open minded, even if sometimes the suggestion may be a little off the wall.
“I would like to see the market open up more to that type of idea as I think it takes courage to do that.”
However, Hirsch-Angus accepts that often her role is to replace a leaver and where the company just wants someone who has what it needs generally those are roles within a sales or advisory capacity whether that be consulting, client relationship management or business development.
That said, she adds in the past year Morgan Keating has filled roles in almost every discipline from sales to operations, technical, audit and leadership.
While some companies may be needing to focus themselves more on how they should recruit and what they ideally need it seems employees – or potential employees – are themselves doing that sort of thinking. Hirsch-Angus says that there has been such a lot of change across the sector over the last ten years that people’s mindsets have changed with regards to a typical career path.
Still she says: “I think it is good for companies to be open minded about someone’s background but sometimes there are tangible reasons why an organisation wants someone with a very particular set of skills and experience.”
As for whether it is easy or not to attract good quality candidates from outside the industry, it seems to depend what industry those individuals come from and why they are looking.
“Historically it has been harder to persuade the market to accept candidates from outside although that is changing as people look for new and different skills,” she says. “There are several organisations who have and are actively seeking people from other sectors outside of healthcare because of what they bring and that’s a good thing as it ensures a pipeline of future talent which the market desperately needs.”
Consolidation has been sweeping the healthcare sector on the insurance and the intermediary side for some years. Inevitably one would think this would raise concerns in the recruitment market but Hirsch-Angus says not necessarily so.
“Naturally people may assume that consolidation means fewer opportunities, but the reality is it hasn’t had the negative impact people might think to date,” she says.
While the industry as a whole ponders the benefits or detractions of consolidation in the market what it will mean is that if there is competition for work and staff, both parties may need the services of a good recruiter.
Vanessa Hirsch-Angus – Biography
Vanessa Hirsch-Angus has worked within the Healthcare industry for over 19 years. She was head of customer service at AXA and customer service director at AXA PPP International and has an in-depth understanding of the market. For the last two years she has been running Morgan Keating finding and placing talented people across the industry. Vanessa is a passionate believer in the value of developing talent and placing the right people in the right roles and organisations.