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Esme Bianchi-Barry has held the position of Affinity Workforce since 2019. During this time, the company has acquired a new business and developed its provision. 


Having joined the company as a Graduate Recruitment Consultant in 2010, Esme has progressed her career within the organisation holding various roles from Team Leader, Branch Manager, Regional Manager, Operations Director and Managing Director. 


We recently caught up with Esme to discuss her career highlights, find out what the role of a CEO entails and discover her biggest career achievement so far. 

Describe your role in a nutshell


Operational responsibility for the Monarch Education, CER Education, Career Teachers and Sugarman Education businesses, reporting to the Board of Directors. Involved in all aspects of running a successful recruitment business from hiring, sales, marketing and from time to time even ordering the milk!


Day to day, my role is to ensure the business is on track to achieve its financial targets and that we have a happy and engaged workforce. Constantly reviewing, checking and challenging strategy to ensure we are always achieving to the highest standard and generally being the beacon of positivity!

Tell us about your career journey so far


I started in 2010 as a graduate recruitment consultant, initially, I had only planned to work in the role for a year as I had been awarded a place on a PGCE the following September. Having enjoyed my first year in recruitment I decided to turn down my place and continue in the role.


My career progressed through various roles in the business from Team Leader to Branch Manager, to Regional Manager, Operations Director and finally Managing Director at Monarch Education. In February 2019 I was offered the position of Chief Executive Officer across Affinity Workforce, encompassing the CER, Sugarman and Monarch Education brands.


One of my career highlights has to be winning Team of the Year whilst I was the Manager of Monarch’s Bristol Branch. Even to this day I see this as one of my biggest and most memorable achievements as well as supporting the business through 3 sales and ensuring continuity of core value propositions.

What do you like to do in your spare time?


I am a big football fan and support Bristol City, I have been a season ticket holder for the last 3 seasons and I am really hoping for a promotion to the Premier League soon! I spend lots of time with my friends and family and am lucky that the majority of those people still live in my native Bristol. I am a bit of a foodie and enjoy eating out, especially at my sister’s restaurant in Bristol Adelina Yard (shameless plug!).


What has been the highlight of your career so far? What have you felt most proud of?


I feel proud and honoured every day to be able to lead such a talented and passionate team of recruiters and managers. Sometimes I pinch myself and wonder how I got here as I still see myself as very much part of the team and still love picking up the phone and talking to clients and candidates.

Who do you look up to?


A bit cheesy but 100% my mum! She has three daughters and has always taught us to believe in ourselves, treat others with respect and kindness, and always work hard! My Dad is an absolute legend as well though so deserves some credit too!

I have been lucky to work with some amazing women in education recruitment. My first manager taught me discipline and resilience, lessons that have stayed with me throughout my career.


What does the future look like for education?


Who knows, 12 months in recruitment can change a lot! All I know is that for now I am focused on building Affinity Workforce into one of the most respected and successful education recruitment businesses in the UK.

Have you felt you’ve had to overcome any hurdles as a woman in leadership?


Genuinely, not very many. But maybe that’s because I have always ignored them. I don’t think anyone should let another person stand in their way regardless of gender!

What would you say in a letter to your 12-year-old self?


My 12-year-old self was ok, it was around the age of 18-22 that I probably needed to have a word with myself! I would tell that person to make sure they were always respecting the people and opportunities around them and not to take them for granted!


You can find out more about Affinity Workforce by visiting their website.