The 10 Most Empowering Women in Business 2022

Anne O’Donnell: A Global Executive Search and Recruitment Leader

The 10 Most Empowering Women in Business 2022

The current growth in the energy transition and hydrogen development sectors and the chance to help such an important market source and develop the right talent was a very interesting proposition, and one that brought Anne O’Donnell back into recruiting two years ago. She asserts, “We set up a recruitment division in Procorre during the first COVID lockdown, an entrepreneurial move which some would call brave. It turned out to be an extremely sound judgement call as we are now working with some of the top organisations in this sector.”

Anne is the founder and CEO of Procorre and, more recently, Gibson Watts, a worldwide executive search and recruiting agency that links forward-thinking companies with their future leaders and develops world-class, diverse teams. She is also one of a select group of business women included in Westminster’s ‘Voice & Vote’ book commemorating the centennial of women’s voting rights. O’Donnell has held top management positions at Prudential, Manpower, RMF, and Von Essen during her career. She has considerable experience of businesses and the difficulties they confront, having spent over 28 years in insurance, IT, and more recently, cyber security.

Anne became the CEO of Procorre in 2018, and she was included in the Voice and Vote book, which commemorated 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the United Kingdom. The book highlighted 100 significant women in the UK, and Anne was presented with the book at Westminster. Anne earned the prestigious prize of Most Inspirational Businesswomen in the West in 2019 the following year after launching a campaign to inspire 100 women into consulting in 100 days.

Anne has spearheaded a deliberate drive to get more women into the consulting profession over the last couple of years to address the uneven ratios across tech-based consulting roles. The Procorre100 campaign saw the introduction of 100 women in 100 working days to join Procorre’s professional network. The result of the campaign saw a significant number of professional women sign up for the cause; while the figure of 100 women was not quite met (with around 80 sign-ups), the findings highlighted the clear prevalent issue of gender-imbalance within the consulting industry and enabled many women to discover a new, exciting way to work.

A Recruitment Specialist

Anne has worked in recruitment for about half her working life. She shares, “I have worked for the same group of companies for the last 20 years. Gibson Watts is an associated company with Procorre, where I am also the CEO and have been since 2018.”

As per Anne, being the CEO of Procorre is a privilege. She opines, “I get to work with wonderful people with passion and drive, making every day a pleasure. Championing women in business has always been a passion of mine as I was supported throughout my career by some inspiring and forward-thinking men!”

Leaders, according to Anne, must collaborate in an egalitarian and varied working environment that empowers all employees, since this is what distinguishes a firm and makes it successful. She goes on to say that Procorre’s # Procorre100 campaign continues to run, encouraging women to break through the glass ceiling with a career in consulting across many disciplines.

Gibson Watts

Gibson Watts is a recruiting and executive search firm focusing on bringing together tomorrow’s leaders to inspire future change, notably in the energy transition.

Gibson Watts is an executive search and recruitment agency that operates globally. Its goal is to link forward-thinking companies with their future leaders and to create world-class, diverse teams. It takes satisfaction in knowing a company’s short, medium, and long-term goals and constantly delivering positive change as a people-led and data-driven organisation.

Gibson Watts has a deep understanding of its clients’ sectors, allowing it to give a one-of-a-kind solution that results in identifying the finest people, not simply the best available. The team of experts specialises in providing executive search, board, interim and development services, as well as leadership consulting and recruitment.

Anne states, “Operating out of our offices in London, Bristol and Boston USA, Gibson Watts has a global reach, delivering work with our partners across each continent. Our team has a robust knowledge of our partners’ industries across all global markets. We take pride in understanding the talent available across global territories. We provide an insight-driven service which focuses on driving positive change in our clients’ organisations. Gibson Watts actively promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion, both internally and in collaboration with our partners.”

During each hiring campaign, Gibson Watts focuses on engaging with new networks and sources, to identify existing and emerging talent that shapes its partner’s diversity agenda.

View as a Chief Executive

Leadership, from Anne’s perspective, is about motivating people to feel engaged, happy in their jobs, and involved in the organisation, resulting in commitment and a sense of belonging.

As a CEO, there’s a long list of responsibilities within her role, but at the very top, and something she prioritises over everything else, is to inspire her senior management team and every team member she talks to. She opines, “When there are key business decisions to make or other business priorities, this can be a challenge, but ensuring you make time for others makes a huge difference.”

Anne believes that motivating others is a long-term commitment that must be made. As a leader, one must recognise that this must begin with them. She learned a vital management lesson early in her career: always be prepared to accomplish everything you want your team to do. It earns you more respect. This is critical for Anne, and it has formed the foundation of her leadership approach.

Anne has seen employees get disillusioned in other organisations because they didn’t understand why the job they were given was vital or because supervisors assigned them things they didn’t want to accomplish. Eventually, this dissatisfaction spreads around the team or people leave because they don’t feel valued or respected, and in the worst-case scenario, both happen.

A Supportive Leader

Anne finds that mentoring is incredibly important. She mentored her HR manager, who joined the team as a temp in 2011. She recalls, “We sponsored her to take her IPD, in which she got a first, and then I mentored her into what I believe is now a top HR professional.” She also believes that to get the best out of people, sometimes you need to challenge them, but always in a positive way. By knowing you believe in them and their capabilities, they will be inspired to think the same way. Being on hand to support team members when overcoming any hurdles along the way also helps to cement that inspiration and to ensure they reach their goal.

As a leader, she guarantees the formulation of a successful corporate strategy, as well as maximising possibilities, reducing weaknesses, and ensuring that the necessary financial resources are in place to expand as needed. With the help of her other directors, she is also promoting the brand and guaranteeing successful business development and delivery to the firm’s clients.

At Gibson Watts, the team likes to stay at the forefront of technology. She states, “Currently, we use a CRM tool called Vincere, Lusha, Sourcebreaker, and LinkedIn Recruiter, to name a few.”

Words of Recognition

According to the Bristol Post, “Anne has been described as a dynamic and charismatic leader, and under her leadership, Procorre continues to increase representation in the office, with 60 per cent of the workforce now female.”

Anne says it’s an absolute honour to be chosen to win the Most Inspirational Businesswoman of the West Award 2019.

Future Vision

Anne’s main aim is to maintain raising the company’s sales and profitability. At the same time, she wants to continue to advocate a culture of diversity, inclusiveness, and engagement for all employees, men and women equally. Leadership, in her perspective, is about motivating individuals to feel fulfilled in their jobs and involved in the organisation. This fosters a sense of belonging and dedication.

Throughout the following 48 months, Gibson Watts wants to create further offices in Europe and the United States, followed by the Middle East and Asia.