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CHAMBER NEWS Eileen welcomed as president


hoping to bring those qualities to her latest role as president of East Midlands Chamber. The founder of Leicester-based


S


Eileen Richards Recruitment – recently rebranded as ER Recruitment – will take the chains of office from outgoing president Dawn Edwards at the Chamber’s AGM on 11 December. Eileen, who also co- founded the Chamber’s Enterprising Women network that continues to go from strength to strength, has set out three priorities – to encourage inter-membership relations and trading, support the region’s future business leaders and lobby hard in Government for investment to aid the East Midlands’ post- Covid economic recovery.


he’s earned a big reputation as a woman who gets things done in her business, and now Eileen Richards MBE is


The current Chamber vice-


president said: “I feel really honoured to become president because it’s a fantastic accolade. “I’ll carry out the role of


president like I run my business – the members will be at the heart of everything we do, just like people are in recruitment. I might not be able to solve the economic recovery all on my own but I’d like to get some great individuals and businesses together within our membership to make a difference. Hopefully, in 12 months’ time, people can see what we’ve achieved.”


FROM LEICESTER TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE Leicester-born Eileen, a Chamber board member for the past four years, has been in the recruitment industry for more than two decades. She believes the


communication and relationship skills she developed from a young age – she


was the fifth of seven children – helped her in a people-focused industry, even though it was something she admits to “falling into” aged 23 after a recruitment agency she worked with to find a new job told her she’d be a natural in recruitment. Eileen was eventually headhunted by another agency and appointed managing director at the age of 30. The initial feeling of “imposter


syndrome” would be something she’d later take into the Enterprising Women network – “it’s about women recognising and appreciating their potential” – but the confidence she gained ultimately led to her setting up her own business. “The firm became very big and


successful, but focus shifted from delivering customer experience to simply filling roles, so I wanted to offer a more boutique service for clients and candidates,” she said. In 2013, after a brief period


working from home heading up another agency with a business partner, she set up ER Recruitment. The company specialises in


sectors such as accountancy and finance, construction, HR, sales and marketing, with a “fill rate” of 94% far outshining the industry average of 33%. Many of the clients Eileen had on


day one remain on board and, after the recent rebranding – which includes the motto “part of your DNA” to reflect how her consultancy aims to become embedded into the culture of employers it works with – she hopes to double the eight- strong headcount by the end of 2021 with a new focus on staff retention services and executive search. In 2018, she won both the Niche Businesswoman of the Year and Leicester Mercury Businesswoman of the Year, but her crowning glory came when she was awarded an MBE for the promotion of female entrepreneurship that November.


“I still don’t know who put me


forward for it but it was such an incredible moment of my life,” said Eileen, a trustee of Hope Against Cancer and committee member of the Wooden Spoon Leicester charity. I was given the award by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and he knew so much about my career and the charities I worked with. He said something that will stay with me forever – ‘if everyone does their bit, it makes a huge difference’.”


ENTERPRISING WOMEN WILL BE KEY PART OF EILEEN’S PRESIDENCY One of the factors behind her royal honour was the Chamber’s Enterprising Women network that Eileen co-founded with Jean Mountain. Due to celebrate its 25th year in 2022, it aims to help businesswomen support each other, whatever stage their career is at, through advice, education and networking events. The Enterprising Women Awards, currently open for entries, is now in its fifth year. Eileen will continue to promote


enterprising women in 2021, adding: “We still say there’s not enough women sitting around boardroom tables. For the applications we get for executive roles at my agency, probably 8% are from women. “The quality of speakers we get at


our events is amazing and the awards showcase some great success.” Chamber chief executive Scott


Knowles thanked Dawn Edwards for her "unfaltering tenacity and support for the small business community" during "arguably the most challenging year for any president over the past several years”. Looking ahead to Eileen's role


over the next 12 months, he added: "Eileen is dedicated to supporting the Chamber and its members as they navigate the post-pandemic and post-transition period with the EU – two of the greatest challenges to the UK economy happening simultaneously. “I look forward to working closely


with Eileen in what will prove to be an interesting year for business.”


EILEEN’S THREE THEMES FOR 2021 AS PRESIDENT 1


Member 2 Member: Supporting local enterprises by encouraging inter-membership trading and collaboration


2 3


The Next Generation… or Generation Next: Promoting the Chamber’s network for young professionals, Generation Next, to support the development of the region’s future business leaders


East Midlands Economic Recovery: Ensuring the Chamber acts as a voice for businesses when lobbying key decision and


policymakers to bring infrastructure investment to the region and deliver the promised “levelling up” agenda


business network December 2020/January 2021 33


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