My Career: Our recruitment firm has experienced impressive growth and success over the past five years

Owner/ Managing Director, Baker Finn Recruitment, Grace McDwyer features in this week's My Career
My Career: Our recruitment firm has experienced impressive growth and success over the past five years

Grace McDwyer, of Baker Finn Recruitment. Picture: Diane Cusack

Name: Grace McDwyer

Age: 40

Lives: East Cork

Job title: Owner/Managing Director, Baker Finn Recruitment

Salary bracket: Being self-employed, this varies year to year depending on the business.

Education background: I received a Higher Degree in Business Management & Marketing (MTU) and then went on to pursue a Masters in Food Marketing (UCC). A few years later I went on and did an additional Diploma in Nutritional Therapy. I am a big advocate of keep learning - when it comes to your brain I believe use it or lose it!

Hobbies: Chasing after my three boys, aged 2, 4, and 6, keeps me constantly on the go. However, I still found time to go on a hike with my husband up Torc Mountain last weekend, which is my ideal outdoor activity. Recently, I also joined the Ballintotis Running Club, so I’m excited to see where that takes me! 

My sister-in-law Dee has signed me up to the Dingle full marathon, so I’d better get training!

Describe your job in five words: Busy! Exciting, interesting, rewarding and varied - no two days will be the same!

Describe yourself in five words: Driven, determined, stubborn, kind, fun!

Personality needed for this kind of work? Good attitude - focused, driven - delivering for our clients and candidates is my absolute passion, I love the ideal of becoming a strategic partner with the clients we work with and feel the pressure to deliver for them.

How long are you doing this job? I started in Recruitment in late 2009, so 14 years.

How did you get this job? Whilst completing my Masters, I was asked to do some part-time lecturing in CIT (now MTU) it was a great opportunity to help final year Business degree students as I had just completed the course myself a few years before, however, I always felt I went straight from college into lecturing and I lacked the ‘real life’ industry experience. All of my examples were learnt from the books.

The following year, there was an opportunity that came up with Ford Motor Company for a rotational programme where you would get six months experience in Logistics, Finance, Supply Chain, Marketing, etc, so the plan in my head was I would complete this and return to lecturing with a more rounded knowledge of industry experience. But then the world was hit with the 2008/2009 recession and the motor companies were the first to be hit and the program was discontinued.

This all happened a month before Christmas and I heard a recruitment company were hiring in Cork so I joined them with the plan it would see me through the Christmas period, I had no intention of staying... it’s funny how things work out as, fast forward 14 years and it’s the place where I met my husband and we recently celebrated five years in business with our own recruitment company!

I did return to lecturing a few years later for the adult night classes, but since having a family I haven’t gone back, but never say never! 

I think I thrive best when there are eight plates spinning in the air at any one time.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Personality and attitude are paramount for this job. While college education can aid in perseverance and discipline, it is not mandatory as attitude and drive will always surpass any qualifications in my view.

Describe a day at work: My typical day starts at 7am, getting my three boys fed and ready for the day. After dropping them off at school, I head to our office in East Cork, where we begin with a team meeting to discuss our clients’ most pressing hiring needs. Our clients are blue-chip companies in the life sciences and technology industries, and they partner with us when they need to hire specialists for various functions like Quality, Regulatory, Lab support, and Tech. Once we prioritise our clients’ needs, I spend much of my day on the phone with hiring managers, understanding requirements, and screening suitable candidates for their project teams. While we primarily work with clients locally in Ireland, we also cater to their offices in other European sites. It’s great that on site meetings are back, so where possible we go on site to meet our clients in person - nothing will ever replace shaking hands and meeting face-to-face to build strong and long-lasting relationships.

How many hours do you work a week? As a working parent of three young boys, flexibility is essential in my job, we recognise the challenges of balancing work and family life, so we aim to create a give-and-take environment - it’s hard to put a number on the hours I work each week as when it’s your own business - are you ever really switched off?!

What do you wear to work? I prefer dressing in business casual attire, this usually consists of a trouser suit, shirt, and jacket. This makes me feel more professional and confident. It’s a refreshing change from my casual attire of runners and skins leggings when I’m running after the boys. As I spend a significant amount of time of my day on Teams calls with clients and hiring managers, looking smart is important to me.

Is your industry male or female dominated? The industry is a diverse mix of both females and males, I think this is good as it brings a range of perspectives and strengths to the team.

Does this affect you in any particular way? I love it - with every hire we are always trying to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: As the owner, my job is extremely demanding and diverse so it depends on any given day.

I can go from visiting a client site to reviewing business terms with my legal team in a matter of minutes, constantly switching between different responsibilities.

Do you work with others or on your own? Baker Finn Recruitment has an exceptional team of over 10 professionals in our East Cork office, all of whom are committed to delivering exceptional outcomes for our clients while also prioritising enjoyment in the workplace,

We value team building days and regularly organise life science events as well as other activities outside of the office. Recently, we held a recognition and awards ceremony at the Radisson to acknowledge the outstanding work of our team. 

I am grateful and proud to work with such a remarkable group of people, and I recognise that our success is only possible thanks to their hard work and contributions.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? I don’t ! I strongly believe that maintaining a youthful outlook as we age is crucial, and I intend to work for as long as possible. Setting an age to stop working can sometimes limit us, my father, who is 75, is one of the most able-bodied and minded individuals I know - I feel aiming for a certain age to stop working can accelerate the ageing process. This is why it’s even more important to embrace a work ethic that keeps us energised and engaged!

Best bits: Baker Finn has experienced impressive growth and success over the past five years. We are proud to have four team members who are celebrating their five-year work anniversary with us this year. Witnessing their personal and professional growth during this time has been extremely gratifying.

Worst bits: Being self-employed, you are constantly engaged in some form of work, and it can be difficult to disconnect completely. Whether it’s filing taxes, creating training programs, or revising updated HR policies, there’s always something to be done. The to-do list seems never-ending, and down-time can be hard to come, this is why it’s even more important to take planned time out for yourself away from work and family life.

Advice to those who want your job? I learned to embrace taking on things I’d never done before - challenge yourself. Growth and comfort do not co-exist. With determination, we all hold the power to determine the outcome; the possibilities are endless, no matter what you choose to do!

Any other comments? Workplace discussions have recently turned to the benefits of flexible work arrangements. As a business owner and parent, I know first-hand how beneficial such arrangements can be.

For companies, implementing flexible work policies can really help retain talented employees who might otherwise feel obligated to choose between their personal and professional responsibilities. Additionally, promoting flexible work is key to empowering women with young families, which in turn promotes gender equality and economic growth.

Remote work options and flexible hours are just two examples of policies that companies can adopt to support working mothers in pursuing their career goals.

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