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19 years of Vana?

April 2023

19 years?  In 2004, NASA landed the Opportunity Rover on Mars, the transit of Venus took place for the first time since 1882, Mark Zuckerberg launched TheFacebook, I was in the midst of IVF, and @JoWhite was pregnant as we stepped out of Corporate life to launch Vana as a start-up.  19 years on, we’re pretty happy that we took the leap!

We’ve found a new career adventure for 655 HR professionals (generalists and specialists) during this time and have helped and advised many more during their search journeys.  Given our longevity, it’s been a wonderful experience to help some candidates with more than one career move as they’ve moved through their trajectory.

Our rich tapestry of clients across the commercial sector vary in sector, shape and size.  From Global FTSE 50 to AIM listed organisations, Private Equity backed enterprises to entrepreneurial scale-ups.  They say variety is the spice of life and it’s been a joy to work in partnership with so many brilliant stakeholders over the years, and a fair few of our clients have been with us since the very start.  Thank you, to each and every one of you for your trust, and your loyalty.

We set out with an intention that running our own business would offer us the opportunity for a little more balance in our lives.  With the belief that our commitment to stay niche, specialist and boutique would allow us to scale Vana as a successful consultancy whilst also giving us the balance to start and support our own respective families.

Creating balance as working women had been very difficult in a corporate environment during that time, when taking time out to even attend an adhoc Doctor’s appointment was tricky.  We wanted to see change, and we hoped that we could be a part of making the change happen – with Board HR leadership roles being finally recognised as an integral part of senior leadership teams in the early 00’s combined with our own desire to challenge clients on ‘full time only’ role requirements.

Change was slow, but it started to happen; 9 day fortnight working patterns, 4 days rather than 5 became a consideration, the benefits of working from home realised, job shares introduced.  Gradually over the years we’ve seen policies and processes change and employer value propositions continue to evolve with values truly embedded across the employee lifecycle.  All change  for the better.

What else has happened in 20 years?  Technology advancements, casual working environments introduced, relaxed dress codes the norm.  We didn’t factor in the great recession four years in or the impact of a global pandemic, but we have always been committed to remaining agile to change, continuous learning, and embracing new ways of working.

We are hugely proud to have played a part in introducing talent who have positively impacted the movement to drive better organisational cultures and employee experiences.  As People functions have evolved and matured, new specialist roles have emerged and we’re continually mapping the market to connect with new talent and build upon our relationships.

My Dad had always encouraged me to start my own business and he had stage 4 bladder cancer when I talked to him about our plans to open Vana.  Dad passed away within days of us launching the business.  Jo gave birth to her beautiful daughter (now 18) a few months later, I got lucky and welcomed my wonderful (now 16 yr old) twins to the world in 2007, and Jo welcomed her son a couple of years later.  Our biggest achievement is being ‘Mum’ to our respective teens, being there every step of the way.   We couldn’t have done this without each other, without a commitment to do our very best for our families, for Vana and for each other.  I feel fortunate to have chosen the right partner.