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VANRATH – The Journey So Far

  • Publish Date: Posted 6 months ago
  • Author:by Barbara McKiernan

Let’s go back in time, 21 years to be precise, when a senior level accountant was on the lookout for new opportunities. Wayne Sullivan discovered that professional recruitment services for accountants was not quite the experience he had expected. His entrepreneurial nature and a drive to help other accountants like himself to realise their career aspirations, was the ‘light-bulb’ moment that encouraged him to start a recruitment agency like no other. The goal was to recruit in the same way, and to the same standard, that an employer would recruit into their own business to ensure the client would get exactly what they required. 

Initially setting up shop in Dublin the name was founded, VANRATH, an amalgamation of the 2 founding partners names.  In 2002, Wayne decided to return home to Belfast to take on the Northern Ireland market. He purchased VANRATH’s first official home on the 6th floor of Lesley suites which enabled the business to hit the ground running with the establishment of our Accountancy Team. 

IT recruitment was VANRATH’s next big venture and in 2004 Ryan Quinn (Managing Director, IT), a current Java Developer, came on board to start the team. Phil Gamble (Director) joined the team soon after, and between them, alongside some excellent consultants, the team has grown the IT business into the largest IT recruitment business in Northern Ireland.

In 2005 Barbara McKiernan (Managing Director) joined the Accountancy Recruitment team and has enjoyed 16 successful years placing senior level accountancy and finance staff into NI’s leading private sector businesses. Barbara’s role has since transitioned, with her now playing a key role in managing the day-to-day operations of the business and delivering all internal recruitment and training.

Our staff are our best asset and so as a reward in 2007 following a hugely successful year building out key teams at Citi group, the team took their Christmas party to Barcelona! This really set the tone of our company culture in the years to come as a hardworking but highly rewarding place to work.

In the years following and building upon the significant success of the Accountancy and IT teams, came the introduction of our Temporary Recruitment Department in 2010, to be headed up by Damian Della Croce (Director) who was already an experienced recruiter within the temporary recruitment market. Our first major success in this sector came when we won the HSCT BSO tender to recruit temporary workers on a large scale in the same year. Other sectors including HR, sales and marketing, public sector, engineering, and construction followed suit in the years after.

One of our proudest moments to date has been setting up and becoming the founding members of the ‘Time to Care’ initiative with the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in 2014. ‘Time to Care’ is a unique partnership opportunity for up to 30 businesses in Northern Ireland, to part fund the annual salary of a qualified children’s nurse at the Children’s Hospice. We have since worked closely to support the hospice through many fundraising campaigns over the years, raising significant funding for their vital work. 

As the business continued to grow, naturally the team also expanded and the need for additional office space was identified. This need was temporarily met when the IT Team moved to another city centre location near our offices at that time. However, the acquisition of additional floor space in our main offices brought the team back to its rightful place – together!

This growth has been, and continues to be, supported through significant investment in marketing. If you’ve ever taken a trip through the City airport in the last 7 years you can’t have missed our advertising outside of the terminal! Thanks to our long-term sponsorship deal we have ensured VANRATH’s presence as NI market-leading recruitment agency for those coming into, and leaving, NI. Other sponsorship deals we have secured over the years include with The Institute of Chartered Accountants, CIPD (headline sponsors) and the Ormeau Table Tennis Club, to name but a few. 

Over the years we have worked with the best clients and candidates in the Northern Ireland market and carried out recruitment campaigns for some of the best-known names in the world of business, amongst them Allen & Overy, Deloitte Digital, AquaQ Analytics, iManage, Johnson Controls, TP ICAP, CME Group and Allstate. 

2019 spelled a very exciting time for the business with the appointment of 3 new directors to the business, Phil Gamble (Head of IT Recruitment), Damian Della Croce (Head of Temporary Recruitment), and Joanne Gordon (Head of Accountancy Recruitment) to support Barbara and Ryan in driving the further expansion of the business. Later in the year we secured a significant stake-holder investment from prominent Mercedes business owner and property investor Neil McKibbin FCA. With this investment came the purchase of Victoria House in Belfast City Centre by Wayne and Neil, in a £12.5 million deal, allowing the company to move into brand new state of the art offices and continue their ambitious growth plans.

We further cemented our place as a leader in the NI recruitment market, working exclusively with Allstate as they transferred over 100 Accountancy and Finance roles from the US to their Belfast office and working with a host of new technology companies coming into the marketplace to help them build their teams from the ground up. 

With 2020 came the global COVID-19 pandemic and we all know how that went!! A difficult year for any business, however, we weathered the challenges and continued to support our clients with critical market advice and serviced all their recruitment needs, we are particularly proud at this time to have been supporting the BSO and health trusts to provide them with the best temporary workers in the market.

We have been so fortunate to have excelled through this tough year taking the business from strength to strength. VANRATH secured 12 new internal hires across 2020-2021 and we are continuing our search to further build out our team! 

To support the growth of the business we invested significantly into our internal teams, with our marketing department having great success in growing our social channels by over 300% in the last year. In addition, we are now Northern Irelands best reviewed agency with over 700 5-star rating Google reviews. 

Following the devastating effects of the global pandemic, we have also invested greatly into our employee health and wellbeing programme with mental health being one our key focus’ as we move forward as a company. Some of the initiatives we implement are celebrating employee’s birthdays, additional annual leave allowance, team away days, a monthly yoga class, courses such as first aid training, and feel-good Friday treats, to name a few. This year we have also made the decision to close of business for a week to allow everyone in the business a chance to recharge and have a well-deserved rest. 

We are proud to have built the largest database of candidates within our target audience and have the ability to deliver key staff in a market where there is often a shortage of talent within specific sectors. We are also proud to have the highest retention rate of employees of any recruitment agency in Northern Ireland. 

So, in the last 21 years a lot has happened we have transitioned from a team of 3 accountancy focused consultants to a team of 30 sector-specific consultants covering a diverse range of sectors.  Whilst we’re proud of our growth to date, we recognise that there is no room for complacency, and we will continue to deliver the highest standard of recruitment services to our clients and candidates. Indeed, the future is looking bright for VANRATH. We are expanding our team across all sectors and have a host of exciting developments planned over the next few years. Building successful careers and supporting our clients with the best talent in the market is at the heart of everything we do. We are driven by a passion to help people build careers that meet their goals, and help businesses achieve success through great and strategic talent.

We’re not done yet, watch this space!