LACE Partners celebrates its fifth birthday at the end of November 2019, a milestone we’re all very proud of. Achieving such a milestone and continuing our success is down to our wonderful people – our LACErs – and our clients with whom we’ve established great relationships (and in many cases subsequent friendships).
As a little bit of a trip down memory lane we thought we’d share some thoughts from our two co-founders, Aaron Alburey and Cathy Acratopulo, who set up the business in late 2014. They wanted to build something fresh with a new approach to transforming HR through innovative way of working and technology. Cathy and Aaron reflect on how far the business has come:
How much has LACE Partners changed since you founded the company?
Aaron: It feels like it has changed beyond recognition in some ways; I also though take it as a great positive that we’ve kept some of the core of what the business is culturally. Our size, the number of clients, the breadth of work and our focus on HR has continued to develop significantly. When Cathy and I set up the business, we were very clear on what we wanted as our values (passion, innovation and care) and our principles (like having a flat organisation, where everyone has a voice). These are all still as fundamental to LACE today as they were in year one of starting up the business.
Cathy: When we started, we knew we wanted to be different to other consultancies. As we’ve grown, we challenge ourselves at every decision to make sure we are achieving that, for our clients and our people. As such, our underlying values haven’t changed, as Aaron mentions. We’ve grown significantly over the five years, from the early days when it was just Aaron and me sitting in a coffee shop working with one or two clients, through to now when we have almost 30 employees, a strong network of LACE associates and over 23 clients (Aaron is it 23 or 26?) just in this last year alone.
What has been your favourite moment of the last five years?
Cathy: There have been so many milestones! I would say one of the major moments was moving into our current office in 2018. Having our own space, branded and styled to suit our values, was a big ‘growing up’ step. I love the positive impact the office has on new LACErs joining the team and clients who come to visit us. We are now growing so much we will have to look for somewhere bigger and better in 2020!
Aaron: Professionally, winning our first set of business awards was validation that what we are doing as a business is working, so that was really rewarding. Winning business from some of the big players in the market was a challenge but, when you do win, it is really special and gives you such a boost.
You also grow personally as well and watching the business grow, seeing how Cathy and I work together and how we have developed in confidence as a team, is something that has been so valuable to us and to the business too.
What has been one of the biggest challenges of the last five years?
Cathy: One of the biggest challenges personally has been learning how to run a business. It’s not something I had done before LACE and the learning curve has been steep! But it’s now one of the things I get most enjoyment and satisfaction from as we grow – making sure we make effective decisions about our people, our services, our financials and how we operate, so we can continue to deliver amazing results for our clients and team.
As a business, one of our biggest challenges has been establishing ourselves in the market as a new entrant. We are lucky to have great people on our team so the majority of our work has come through existing contacts and referrals, which is a demonstration of the strong relationships we build with our clients. However, as a relatively new business, we have needed to work hard on getting our brand known in the market to become the ‘go to’ HR consultancy in the UK. To support this goal, we hired Chris Howard this year as our Marketing Director, who has already had an incredibly positive impact on our visibility.
Aaron: When any new business starts, cash flow is always a challenge! Making sure you are delivering the necessary results to sustain growth in year’s one and two can be sobering, but also helps you to focus, driving the business forward.
For me more recently the biggest challenge has been ensuring the business continues to maintain a focus on our culture during accelerated growth as we experiencing at the moment. Asking ourselves “what are our aspirations for LACE Partners in another five years’ time?” and “where will LACE Partners be?” is really important to constantly reflect on.
What are your aspirations for LACE Partners in another five years’ time?
Aaron: I genuinely believe we have a clear proposition that differentiates us from any other consultancy in the UK focused on HR transformation and HR systems. We are in a great position to capitalise and seize market share from our competitors. To do this we need to continue to focus on what we are great at as well as build out our offerings, geographies and sectors. It will be exciting and I can’t wait to see the growth in our teams, to watch us all create something with a legacy to be proud of.
Cathy: We are well on the way to achieving our goal of being the UK’s leading boutique HR consultancy firm. We believe we are ‘fundamentally different’ and we will continue to focus on building amazing teams who deliver great services for our clients over the coming years, as well as running the business in a way which means our LACErs love working with us and love the work they do.
If you follow the LACE team on their many adventures through social media, you’ll know that we love cake, which is why a fifth birthday party was another excuse for us to have one! Follow us on LinkedIn or on Twitter to see some of the celebrations taking place as we mark our 5th birthday and if you’d like to talk to any of the LACE Partners team about any of our practice areas, or working for LACE Partners, then reach out to us – firstname.lastname@example.org.