Alex Fleming is President of Adecco UK&I, Office Angels and Pontoon UK at The Adecco Group.
Alex worked her way up from Operations Manager at Adecco UK to now being the president of three brands across the UK and Ireland.
She specialises in workforce solutions and is currently responsible for driving strategic direction, innovation and new growth opportunities across each brand. With more than 20 years’ experience in the recruitment industry she has a proven track record of effecting change in performance, service levels and industry-defining thought leadership.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I started working at The Adecco Group 21 years ago (how time flies!) and have since had the opportunity to work in most roles across the business. This has given me a really good understanding of the Group and the recruitment industry more generally.
Recently, I’ve taken on the role of Country Head of UK&I for The Adecco Group alongside my position as the President of Staffing and Solutions. As part of the latter I’m responsible for driving strategic direction, innovation and new growth opportunities across the Adecco, Office Angels and Pontoon brands.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No, I never really consciously planned my career. I am a quietly ambitious person who steadily works towards my goals – for the last few years that has been becoming the Head of UK&I for the Group.
Having said that, throughout my career I have been lucky enough to have always had great managers, mentors and sponsors, which has made all the difference. They have been instrumental in helping me to get to where I am by pushing me to grow and learn. They also opened up opportunities to me, often before I’d even had the chance to think about my next career move.
Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
I have experienced my fair share of challenges along the way, as I am sure most women and men building their careers have. But perhaps the most difficult has been learning how to balance having a young family with a very busy job and lots of travel.
Even though I love my job, I really miss my children when I am away on business. I’ve learnt that the key to making up for the times when you are away from your family is to make the most of every moment you do have together.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
A better work life balance would be at the top of my list. As I mentioned, my family is my world, but my career is also very important to me. I don’t think that any women (or men) should have to sacrifice one for the other. I believe that the key to solving this issue is to have more flexibility and cost-effective childcare for parents who want to return to work.
We lose a lot of talent from the workforce because of issues around flexibility and childcare, so solving them makes a lot of business sense too. Especially in an environment with a growing skills gap!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I wholeheartedly believe in the power of mentoring and reverse mentoring. I always have a group of young people as mentees, and this is a part of my job that I absolutely love. Seeing how they develop, grow and propel their careers is really fulfilling, and I’m still in touch with all of the people I’ve mentored.
When done right, mentoring can also be a mutually beneficial experience. In fact, I’ve found that I get just as much from my mentees as they get from me. Reverse mentoring is also critical because it helps us to better understand the behaviours and drivers of the future generations. The youngest generation in the workplace at the moment, Gen Z, have never known a world without the internet. Managing their ambitions and expectations, alongside those of older generations, and leveraging their different skills sets and experience is a great opportunity for businesses.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Getting the Head of UK&I role at The Adecco Group – it was my dream, and I made it happen. It’s hard to juggle everything, but as the saying goes ‘no [wo]man is an island’ and I have had a great team working alongside me the entire way.
I’m proud of the team I have built and am constantly looking to further enhance it and add new talent to help us continue to grow. At the end of the day you can’t stay still, otherwise you will get overtaken.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I am only a few weeks into my current role, but one day it would be great to represent The Adecco Group globally. For the moment though, I’m on a mission to further grow the UK&I business and make it the best it has ever been. With my new team I know we will succeed!