What it means to “Free Yourself”: Insight from Bradley Hewett and Ali Donnel

Kensi Olson, Marketing Intern at Vaco Tampa, interviews Bradley Hewett, Vaco’s Managing Partner, and Ali Donnel, Vaco’s Application Support Analyst, on insights they’ve gathered after analyzing and creating “freeing” moments for clients and candidates.

What does ‘free yourself’ mean to you and how does it apply at Vaco?

Bradley Hewett: Vaco Tampa Managing Partner

Free yourself applies in two ways. Most important, we provide our clients with the opportunity to free themselves. We focus on building relationships. Sometimes our clients get bogged down about something that’s going on in their world. For us, providing a resource or even adding an additional person to their team will free them up on something they could be pursuing and may not have had the time and ability to do so before. It could also be helping a candidate find a better job, otherwise improving their quality of life. By fostering relationships with our clients and providing them resources, we can help instill a #freeyourself value in the workplace.

At Vaco, we live by the phrase, “free yourself.” Typical recruiting industries are very micromanaged. There is a difference between micromanagement and being micromanaged. Most staffing and recruiting companies will keep a log of what you’ve done, what you did the day before – your success is measured in numbers and your entire activity is visible for all to see. At Vaco, ‘free yourself’ allows you to focus on quality vs. quantity. You get to be your true self at Vaco without the stress of being micromanaged, and that to me is what makes Vaco so successful. At the end of the day, ask yourself, where do you want to be and how are you going to get there?

Why is it important to focus on building relationships?

Bradley Hewett

Having a strong relationship with your candidates and clients is valued here at Vaco. My clients are my friends and at the end of the day, it’s always more than just being transactional.

What do you believe are the driving forces behind success at Vaco?

Ali Donnel: Vaco Application Support Analyst

Everyone has a competitive personality, and it drives everything. People at Vaco (Vaconians) are super competitive and want to win. In terms of winning, that can mean a win by solving a problem for a client. A win by putting someone to work. A win by making someone feel good. That drive is a part of the magic. Diligence, enthusiasm, intensity, sarcasm, and joy, these are all qualities you’ll find at Vaco, and it truly drives them to succeed.

Bradley Hewett

When I measure success, I take a few things into account. There’s that saying, “you’re successful when you’re so busy you forget you’re successful.” This is so true and applies in all aspects of your life. If I had to pinpoint two keys to success, it would be confidence and ignorance. Confidence that no matter how bad it gets you’re going to succeed, mixed with a bit of ignorance because you don’t realize you’re succeeding.

How do you attribute your success at Vaco?

Bradley Hewett

When measuring success, I admire the big producers at Vaco. They’re hands down some of the humblest people I’ve ever met.

I attribute my success to teamwork. It’s all a team effort. I learned the hard way in this business in my early 30’s. I thought I was the be-all and end-all of everything. But that only takes you so far. I took a step back, identified my career goals and this opened new opportunities for growth. I joined Vaco not because my abilities were there, but because I had team support – and they made me look good too.

With more than 20 years of recruiting experience, Bradley Hewett is the Managing Partner of Vaco Tampa. Bradley began his career specializing in retained and contingency physician searches for healthcare clients nationwide. He then spent five years at a national accounting and finance placement firm, consistently placing as a top five performer. In 2003, Bradley joined the band of merry outlaws in Vaco’s flagship Nashville office to build and lead the accounting and finance and general administration permanent placement service lines.

Ali Donnel serves as Vaco’s Application Support Analyst and has been with Vaco for over six years working in different roles including sales support and playing a vital key in the transition of a new office space for Vaco Tampa.


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