From Corporate Ladder to Startup Stardom: Alison Ettridge’s Unconventional Blueprint for Business Success

Alison Ettridge’s Journey: From Corporate Life to Startup Success & Navigating Pandemic Challenges

In a recent episode of “Bright Founders Talk” at Temy, we had the pleasure of conversing with Alison Ettridge. As the CEO of Stratigens, Alison carries with her an aura of someone who truly believes in the power of strategic workforce planning.

Stratigens, an innovative labor market analytics platform, seeks to transform the messy data about people, skills, and jobs into a comprehensible format for business leaders. The goal? To enable faster, smarter, and better workforce planning, especially at a time when getting the right talent at the right place has never been more critical.

Interestingly, Alison’s journey wasn’t linear; with a background spanning 25 years in corporate life, it was a combination of personal experiences and business insights that led her to birth Stratigens in 2019. Dive in to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey, the challenges she’s overcome, and her vision for the future of workforce planning.

Alison Ettridge's Journey: From Corporate Life to Startup Success & Navigating Pandemic Challenges
Alison Ettridge’s Journey: From Corporate Rebel to Revolutionary Tech

While most CEOs might tread carefully around the topic of their company’s capability, Alison dives straight into the heart of the matter. “Companies do really bad workforce planning all the time,” she candidly states, but not without hope. Her brainchild, Stratigens, isn’t just another labor market analytics tool. It’s an answer to today’s turbulent workforce planning landscape. It’s like a searchlight, cutting through the dense fog of messy data on people, skills, and jobs, presenting it all in a neat, digestible format for decision-makers. As she puts it, it enables leaders to make “faster, smarter, better workforce planning.”

Companies do really bad workforce planning all the time

Now, if you’re picturing a straight-out-of-university entrepreneur with all the classic startup stories, think again. Alison’s journey is a rich tapestry of 25 years in corporate life. Sure, she was always at the forefront, the cutting edge of her sector, but her transition to entrepreneurship wasn’t exactly a predictable move. A moment with her young daughter, a revealing insight into research habits, and a frustration with the post-mortem nature of projects led her to a profound realization. Alison quipped, “I can build a piece of software that stops companies making stupid decisions.” It’s not every day that a corporate rebel decides to shake things up, but when they do, it’s certainly worth a listen.

By 2019, the world got its introduction to Stratigens. But this isn’t just about a company launch; it’s a tale of transformation, of seeing gaps in the market and having the guts to fill them. Alison’s story is a testament to how personal experiences can profoundly shape business trajectories, proving that it’s never too late to start anew.

100 Coffees, 1 Game-Changer: Alison’s Leap into Strategic Innovation

You know how they say sometimes the most random activities lead to the most profound revelations? Enter Alison’s journey of brewing success from a steaming mug. “I did 100 coffees in 100 days with people,” she shared, and this wasn’t just a caffeine-induced adventure. Starting with familiar faces, each coffee date led to another introduction, a fresh conversation, and a potential lead for her business idea. With each sip and chat, Alison’s business concept of Stratigens took shape. By coffee number 78, her enterprise found its first real-world application. When a CEO of a major pharma company shared his company’s growth plans, Alison’s quick research and feedback led to a pivotal change in their strategy. Alison mused, “I had nothing to sell him, but we just carried on talking.” Turns out, sometimes all you need is an insightful chat over a cuppa.

I did 100 coffees in 100 days with people

The pandemic hit just as Stratigens was making its mark. And for any entrepreneur, such a sudden and drastic change in the global landscape can be a potential enterprise-killer. But not for Alison. Despite the initial doubts, her resilience shone through. “I am not going to lose this business because of a bug,” she declared. This wasn’t just about facing a global crisis; it was about holding on to a dream and pushing through the challenges, even when they seemed insurmountable.

Yet, Stratigens wasn’t just about bouncing back from the pandemic. The crisis accelerated a shift Alison had predicted: the need for businesses to source global talent. What she foresaw taking five years was suddenly just around the corner. Today, giants like BP, EY, and the world’s largest tech company trust Stratigens. It’s a story of one woman’s journey from uncertainty to shaping the future of global talent strategy – all sparked from casual coffee chats. It just goes to show, never underestimate the power of a good conversation.

Scaling Up and Staying Grounded: Alison’s Masterplan for Business and Life

Alison, with her keen sense for business, is pushing the boundaries of innovation. The latest version of Stratigens, which had its beta release in August, employs state-of-the-art machine learning, turning it into an indispensable tool for companies aiming for precise talent scouting. “We’re using clever machine learning… either to look at a top level or at a much more granular level,” she explained, highlighting its potential to pinpoint talents as specific as a developer skilled in C++ and .NET, based in a city like Utrecht.

Yet, for all her forward-looking strategies for Stratigens, Alison has a very clear endpoint in sight. When asked about her future projections, she didn’t hesitate. “We have built this business to exit,” she confessed, with 2026 marked on the calendar. Although she playfully mused about extending the timeline to 2040, it’s clear that she’s focused on a timeline that aligns with her personal life too. After all, as she playfully quoted her husband, “I’d feel divorced” if the exit came any later than planned!

We have built this business to exit

Peeking beyond the world of corporate scaling and product development, the conversation shifted to something more personal: family. Balancing the weight of entrepreneurial responsibilities with family is a tightrope walk, but for Alison, her family remains the anchor. From the valuable lessons learned from her parents, to the unwavering support from her military husband, family influences her work ethics profoundly. Her emphasis on flexibility for her employees stems from the belief in quality family time. Yet, she’s candid about her struggle to extend the same courtesy to herself, often finding solace in late-night work sessions. But, in the grand scheme of things, as long as everyone’s together and safe, for Alison, it’s all a day well spent.

From Travel Trails to Trusting Teams: Alison’s Winning Blueprint

Alison’s journey as a founder brims with passion and perseverance, the backbone of her flourishing enterprise. Despite her travel-centric career, she feels the real change came when she started navigating her journeys on her terms. “It’s traveling on my terms…to my timeline,” Alison stressed, highlighting her ability to weave family time seamlessly into her business endeavors. For instance, while a corporate role might have kept her tethered, her current position allows the flexibility to bring her daughter along for a business trip to Dublin, ensuring the essence of family remains unbroken.

It’s not just Alison’s approach to travel that has seen a paradigm shift; the methodology she adopts to build her team stands out as well. While the tech sector is her company’s lifeblood, it was previously foreign territory for Alison. Still, she’s harnessed the energy and expertise of fresh graduates from top universities to fuel Stratigens’ growth. With their drive, paired with seasoned professionals like Sarah, the revered “head of getting stuff done,” Alison has crafted a harmonious balance of experience and exuberance within her team. “I learn from them every single day,” she acknowledges, praising the dynamic atmosphere that these young minds bring.

As our conversation concluded, Alison shared a snippet of the philosophy she lives by: “Every day’s a school day.” A perpetual learner at heart, she believes in absorbing knowledge from every interaction and every challenge, continuously evolving herself and her enterprise. The ultimate advice she imparts? Use talent intelligence judiciously. For companies looking to make their mark and ensure they remain at the forefront of their industry, it’s imperative to understand where growth opportunities lie and how to seize them – a sentiment that Alison’s very own Stratigens can certainly assist with.

Every day’s a school day

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