Rewarding Futures

Creating their kind of future: Vana partner with the UK specialist connecting business and future talent

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With schools, colleges and universities winding up for the Summer, the coming months will change the lives of young people across the country.

But if that’s a profound prospect for school leavers and graduates, these are equally uncertain times for the world of business that awaits many of them. Like many areas of society, it too is under pressure to change, become more diverse, and effectively engage the next generation who are key to its long-term success and survival. So, how to bring the two together for the benefit of both individual and organisation?

Among the numerous strategic partnerships Vana Resourcing have formed, one in particular seeks to address this challenge.

MyKindaFuture is a London-based social enterprise created to support an organisation’s productivity, and reduce their skills gap, through attracting and hiring diverse apprentices and graduates. Founded in 2011, they have since become the UK’s largest emerging talent specialist.

We thought now would be a good moment for an introduction with founder and MD, Will Akerman (pictured below). So, what according to Will was the inspiration behind MyKindaFuture?


“I was driven by personal experience. Leaving school at 17 with few qualifications led me to understand that in every corner of the country are ambitious young people who would be an asset to any employer. Organisations are increasingly recognising that their battlefield is not simply improving their ‘diversity’ stats, or even ensuring their diverse talent feel a sense of ‘inclusion’, but ensuring they are building an environment that enables their diverse workforce to flourish, perform and grow. In other words, I want to build a genuinely diverse organisation-wide culture.”

We’re constantly seeing, and reading about, the growth of ‘HR tech’. Is this something core to MyKindaFuture, using digital solutions to ensure new talent make the best possible start - and contribution - to an organisation?

“Absolutely. The past 10 years have seen a marked increase in the automation and integration of HR processes. The growing influence of millennials and generation Z in the workplace will accelerate this. However, there will be a limit to how far technology can go in streamlining HR processes, so face-to-face engagement will remain a critical component. Therefore we’ve built a unique range of products and services that blend technology, face-to-face delivery and relationships that have become a virtuous circle with the young people, academic institutions and employers we deal with.”

And there’s one particular solution that you’ve used...

“connectr builds a lasting relationship with candidates, from education through to year one in job. By delivering digital mentoring, insights and skills, we’ve seen connectr both reduce candidate drop-out and HR resource requirement, and accelerate their productivity in a role.

A good example of this in action was creating an agile mobile-first learning programme for the construction company, Skanska. We were asked to create an innovative digital learning app preparing graduates for day one, resulting in improved speed-to-value and productivity. This was needed to address Skanska’s persistently high withdrawal rate and reduce induction costs. Our solution was to create a comprehensive nine-month calendar of content, delivered through short, sharp online learning modules. This was not just a platform to engage and upskill graduates but also a means of gaining their insight on how to maximise candidate experience. Consequently, Skanska improved candidate experience, achieved engagement levels dramatically above the industry average, and reduced post-offer dropout rates.”

Taking a step back, do CVs still carry any weight in the digital age?

“Employer workplaces, culture and processes have been built by baby-boomers. They are slow to change, creating a gap between Millennials and Generation-Z expectations and needs. However, there must be an awareness from both parties to successfully meet somewhere in the middle. The same applies for CVs and formal qualifications.”

So, from Vana Resourcing’s perspective, how did the partnership with MyKindaFuture come about? Vana co-Director, Debbie Flowers, takes up the story:

“Vana appoint senior hires right across the people organisation. Consistent with recent market trends, this has included Heads of Talent Acquisition, but Emerging Talent specialist roles within their teams aren’t limited to Director/Head-of level. With this context, I was introduced to Will through a mutual business contact, and loved his passion for helping young people on their journey whilst supporting his clients to achieve diversity in the broadest sense through their apprenticeship and graduate hires. It became clear that there was an opportunity to support Will’s work, and introduce MyKindaFuture to some of our clients who were looking to do something similar and innovative in this space.”

Finally, we asked Will for the one piece of career advice he would offer his younger self?

The answer?

“Do something you want to get out of bed for!”


If you’d like to know more about MyKindaFuture, and how their approach could benefit your organisation, please contact Jo or Debbie at Vana Resourcing – either by phone (01225 487201), email (,via LinkedIn, or contact Will or 0207 620 4463, quoting this article.

I’ve worked with the team at Vana on many occasions over the years, engaging them to hire senior talent in a number of businesses. Both Debbie and Jo offer great insight and expertise, but above all they deliver results. I would happily recommend their services.

Scott Fishburn, HR Director, DFS

“Debbie and Jo are high-integrity recruiters who take time to understand organisational needs; commercial and cultural. VANA have worked in partnership with us a number of times, enabling us to secure some excellent senior HR hires.”

John Burgess, Head of Talent & Leadership Development, AXA Group

“I have worked with Debbie both as a candidate having introduced me to ING Direct and Invensys, and as a client supporting me with key hires in both organisations and more recently at DAS.  Both Debbie and Jo are exceptionally well networked, I trust their judgement completely and would highly recommend Vana.”

Kate Banks, ‎Group Director of HR & Legal Services at DAS UK Group

'Debbie and Jo are first class headhunters of HR talent. They take the time to fully understand the brief and culture of the organisation before suggesting any candidates for opportunities. Thank you Vana for sourcing quality hires for my team.'

Helen Norris, Head of HR - Nationwide Building Society

I have worked with Debbie both in the search for talent and also as a candidate, in both situations Debbie has been faultlessly professional. Debbie builds strong relationships exploring briefs to ensure she has a deep understanding of what the business and candidate need, allowing her to deliver a real match.

Ian Marchant, Retail HRD, Greene King plc

Candidate experience is really important to me in recruitment, because that is someone's first experience of an organisation - your organisation. As I see it, the recruiter is part of YOUR brand and their actions impact on YOUR reputation when they act for you. The candidate remembers the experience of applying for a job and not always the recruiter involved.

My experience as a candidate of Jo's was exceptional. Jo kept me informed at every stage, questions were anticipated and I always knew where the process was. Also, Jo was present as a person and not as a remote handler. This shows me that any candidate that Jo places would be treated in exactly the way I'd want them to be. I recommend her without hesitation.

Geraldine Buckland, Director of People, Bristol Water

Debbie and Jo are great recruiters of HR talent; they have successfully worked on a number of key senior hires for us both in the UK and internationally.

Jonathan Wright, Group HRD, Murphy Group

Debbie has recently supported me in securing my first HRD role. Her observations and feedback were very insightful and assisted me greatly in navigating the recruitment process and learning about the company and environment I'll be stepping into. Totally dependable, unbiased and a good judge of character, I would highly recommend her to act on your behalf with prospective employers. I haven't worked with Debbie yet as the employer but wouldn't hesitate to do this if the need arises.

Anita Calverley, HR Director, Yeo Valley Farms

The thing about Vana Resourcing is that Debbie and Jo actually care – about you as a person, your career and your business. Yes they deliver great candidates and opportunities but they make sure that the fit / opportunity is right, challenging both sides in a positive way when needed. They’ve supported my career for the last 10 years, including introducing me to my current HRD role, and I have no hesitation that they will be my first point of call for future candidates and opportunities.

Suzie Noble, Chief People Officer, Brightside

“I have worked with Debbie and Jo several times, they stand out from the crowd as a sourcer of talent and when managing you as a candidate, I simply haven't worked with anyone better. Commercial, thorough, expert and with a sense of integrity that means you are only ever recommended to organisations that suit you - and as a hirer you only get talent that works for your organisation. As a hiring organisation, working with a partner like Vana is simply irreplaceable.”

Head of OD, Vodafone

Debbie brings accurate and current insight on HR Talent. Her ability to recognise top people in their field and actively nurture relationships over a long period of time sets her apart from her peers. Debbie is refreshingly honest , she keeps confidences and is not afraid to challenge both candidates and hiring Executives to ensure the right outcome for all parties. I would have no hesitation in recommending Debbie or Vana Resourcing for a critical HR hire.

Barbara Duffy, International HR Director leading on Talent, L&D, Resourcing,OD

“Debbie introduced me to OVO Energy, and she not only found me the right role, but an organisation whose ethos matched my values.  I have since worked with Vana to recruit almost my entire senior HR team! From HRBP's to a Reward Lead and most recently a HR Director. Vana really understand the importance of culture fit."

Kim Atherton, Chief People Officer, OVO Energy

I have worked with Vana Resourcing for a number of years representing me in my own search and as a client. Debbie and Jo are professional and efficient but unusually for this sector, genuinely caring about both client and candidate experience in equal measure.

Jonathan Edge, HR Director UK & Ireland at Ideal Standard International BVBA

“Jo is highly professional, knowledgeable and proactive. It’s not often that a recruitment consultant really interviews you in the same way a prospective employer would.”

Simon Amesbury, SuperGroup plc

What a refreshing delight to work with a commercial partner who understood my business, had national and regional awareness, a handle on the market, an effortless connection with candidates and could tolerate my Everest-like expectations.

I will continue to work with Debbie and Jo again on my incessant drive to solve the talent conundrum of the coming years.

Keep up the great work, you are a credit to the industry.


Stephen Robson, HR Director, Global O&Supply Chain at Kingfisher plc

"The team and I have worked with Jo now on a number of occasions for various recruitment assignments. I have always found Jo to be consultative and considered in her approach but above all honest and straight forward! She has a great understanding of her market place and is always at the end of the line to offer insight and market knowledge. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Vana and look forward to our continued relationship."

Resourcing Partner, Nationwide Building Society, Resourcing Partner, Nationwide Building Society

I've known Jo for a number of years and worked with her as a client and candidate. What's great about working with Jo is that you're guaranteed an honest perspective and terrific insight to the market. She nurtures her relationships in a natural and engaging way: put simply - she knows her stuff!

Marie Aitken, Chief People Officer

I initially engaged Debbie to undertake a search for a Head of OD. She is consultative in style, and took time to gain a comprehensive insight into our organisational culture and HR journey, delivering an excellent shortlist of candidates and a super hire. The feedback from our candidates on their engagement with VANA has been equally positive. Jo and Debbie has since supported me with several other senior hires within the People organisation at RLG, and we enjoy an effective working partnership.

People & Corporate Affairs Director, Royal London Group

“I have worked with Debbie as both candidate and client. In both contexts I have found her to be super-efficient, thorough and a pleasure to do business with. She listens really well, responds quickly and is flexible to evolving demands. Debbie is up there in my top 3 recruiters.”

Sue Round, Head of Talent and Organisational Effectiveness, BP

I have worked with Debbie and Jo for many years as a candidate looking for opportunities and a manager looking for talent.  I have always been impressed by how Vana strive to ensure that there is the best fit in terms of candidate values and company culture.

Sarah King, Head of HR, Triodos Bank