Finding the magic formula that makes people live and die for the brands they work for, feels like they can truly be themselves. Alice Scott – Chief People Officer at Austin Fraser has found it. She’s been involved in shaping people’s functions for over 18 years. Her true passion is employee engagement.
Alice is accountable for the strategic direction of the people’s team at Austin Fraser through a philosophy of attracting the best talent, nurturing it, and championing the culture.
An Interview conducted between Alice Scott and CIOLOOK focusses on employee happiness, wellbeing, and personal & performance goals.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our readers about your leadership position at the company.
I’m the Chief People Officer responsible for the entire employee life cycle across all of our offices in Europe and North America
What were the challenges you came across since founding the organization?
I’m not a founder of Austin Fraser. I joined a little over 5 ½ years ago and established the people function from a group of unconnected people disciplines to a joined-up function that works cohesively putting the employee experience at the heart of what we do. Our key challenges over that period have been driving and maintaining our retention rates in an industry that notoriously is a challenge and evolving our successful culture to attract the best talent to our business so we can in turn provide the best service to our clients and candidates.
Being an experienced business leader, what is your opinion regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your industry? And how has your company managed to overcome this significant challenge?
The impact on our industry varies depending on the sector’s businesses are partnering with. There has been a significant impact on retail and hospitality recruitment services as these businesses were the heaviest hit during the pandemic. But, there are also other businesses that have surged forward despite the pandemic, either becoming more relevant or needed or pandemic proof. Largely these have been the Life Sciences and Tech sectors where they were initially cautious are now bouncing back and in some instances ahead of where they projected to be. We’ve worked really hard to make sure we can survive any future pandemic-style challenges by getting really clear on our goals and structuring the business accordingly.
What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?
Who doesn’t want to enjoy where they work? It’s a founding principle for us and its not an option to provide a job a salary and a list of tasks, our goal is to provide a platform, and an opportunity for people to build careers and achieve the goals they want to achieve. We’ve supported this through providing a trusted culture where our people can choose where they work when they work and what time they want to take away from the business. We know this will mean we create a level playing field for working families, motivate those who love to travel, and give control to those in our business who want to do great things but on their own terms. It’s working incredibly well.
In what ways have you or your contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring to help other companies?
We take pride in embedding ourselves in the Tech and Life Sciences communities, providing space for people to learn, share and connect. This has given candidates and clients a free space to advance their skills, connect to those who they can collaborate with and make meaningful connections.
What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in your industry?
Go for it! I’ve got the pleasure of working with some incredible women and men at Austin Fraser. If you can’t see someone like you in your direct line of sight, be the person you wish you could look up to.
Have you in any way contributed towards the cause of women’s empowerment.
I’m a member of the linkedin coaching scheme and coach young women progressing in their careers looking to understand how to navigate their way. I’m also a working mum of two wonderful boys and am very open about the challenges that face working parents on a day-to-day basis.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
My parents firstly, my mum worked full time, achieved great things, and got the balance right where I admired her ability to do both brilliantly. The many leaders/ business owners I’ve had the pleasure of working with have had a huge impact on my learning as a leader and giving me confidence in my voice, influence and approach to business. Lastly being a mum. If you’re going to work full time when you have two amazing boys you better love what you do and i’ve made sure that every role I’ve had has given me something so valuable that I can justify being a working mum.