FIRST ACT: Jane Bianchini
Traditionally, the first act establishes character, relationships and setting; it’s where the first plot point happens. This series collects the ‘first act’ jobs, careers or businesses of entrepreneurs.
Jane Bianchini could have done any number of things with her time. If she’d followed her first attempt at a degree she’d be in law. Or a psychologist after finishing an undergraduate degree in psychology. There was also that period of running a nightclub and, later, an Infrastructure project manager. She entertained being a private investigator at one point.
Throughout her career and studies, one thing remained constant; “I've just got a great curiosity of people and the human mind and human spirit and behaviour.”
That curiosity took her to recruitment where she matched personalities and skills to jobs – for a good 20 years. She made her way to CEO of the largest ASX-listed IT recruitment company. However, looking back something wasn’t right. “There’s an anthropologist David Graeber who wrote a book called “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory”. Are you doing work that doesn't actually contribute, advance, change, help make [the world] better at all? I felt like I was in one of those jobs,” she says. “When I look back I probably was doing some really meaningful work, but I left. I was just burnt out. Genuine corporate burnout.”
She joined a smaller organisation and there she started probing the question, “What really is my purpose?” And while she was grappling with this question, she was led to climb a mountain. Everest, in fact.
“I was interviewing a recruiter at this company and I said, ‘You are so impressive. I just think I'll have to hire you.’ And he said, ‘No, I'm going to say no. Thanks very much,’” she recalls. “‘I'm not sure you know how this works. I say you're hired and you say, "Thanks. Or, Okay, Great! Where When do I start?"’ He declined again, explaining that he was about to summit Everest and that his training prevented him from fulfilling the expectations of the role. But then he offered that if she were serious about hiring him, she should come along to an information evening that night to better understand the commitment required.
The information session was down the road from her house, so she turned up. She could understand his reasoning, but as they discussed it later, the would-be candidate joked, “If you bring the contract to the base camp of Everest, I’ll sign it.”
So she did. And she brought her kids with her. At 10 and 12, they were the youngest to reach base camp at the time. On the way back down the mountain, she was asked the question she’d been pondering, ”What’s your purpose? What do you really want to do?” It’s perhaps a natural question to ask someone who’s willing to climb to base camp to hand over a contract.
There, Everest, Bianchini turned the question over, wondering whether she wanted to stay in recruitment, remain an executive, or go into IT or HR consulting. Possibilities unfurled before her and she realised: “My purpose is to help people become more successful.” That was enough for her to quit her role and start her own IT recruitment company.
However, Bianchini soon realised that there was a problem with recruitment. It was broken. Her deep knowledge of the recruitment process led her to see that one piece of the recruitment value chain that was yet to be disrupted or innovated: the phone screen. Wanting to disrupt the industry from within, Bianchini became a ‘non-tech’ tech founder, launching Alcami Interactive in 2014.
It’s not an obvious leap until you know what Alcami Interactive does. They streamline the hiring process through a video interviewing platform that reduces bias and improves selection; it challenges the inefficiencies of recruitment. Today she finds herself moving between artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, user experience of the platform, customer experience, go-to-market strategies and working with developers to build the IP and find different use cases. From any perspective, to go from an executive of a listed company to a tech start-up founder, is a leap – or at least a steep climb.
Bianchini sees her role as a start-up founder as the culmination of her past; by searching for a purposeful future she had to look back at her past. “My undergrad, my MBA, my role as an infrastructure project manager, and recruiting in technology; the sum total of those skillsets, experiences and disciplines... blend in beautifully to what I'm doing today.”
And yes, he signed the contract.
Jane Bianchini is the founder and CEO of Alcami Interactive, a digital video interviewing platform that improves screening in recruitment. Alcami streamlines the process of finding the most suitable candidates for large companies to save time and find employees who can thrive in new roles. She is also a member of Entrepreneur's Organisation, a global community of successful entrepreneurs, who inspire & support each other through sharing experiences.