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“Oliver James is not about sitting still, it’s about moving forward. For us to do that, we need to continue to invest in our people. Our learning and development programme caters to every individual and encourages our employees along a career path that is visible, with no boundaries.” 

James Rogers, Group Managing Director


Learning and development has always been at the core of the Oliver James Group. As the business has grown, the portfolio of services and programmes available to the staff has increased significantly. As such, the Business Academy was created to ensure that all employees have the tools and resources available to them, to grow with the business and develop professionally.

The approach is simple: all employees are involved in a core programme, which grants them access to relevant education designed to develop their skill set, enabling them to master their role.

Business Academy provides a varied approach to learning. Workshops encourage employees to learn from peers, whilst digital training technologies enhance collaboration, online sharing and facilitate remote participation. Perhaps most importantly, every individual has access to one-to-one, tailored coaching to accelerate their development.



“The Business Academy aims to ensure the career ambitions of our employees are not only met, but exceeded. By encouraging professional development and providing access to learning tools, training and qualifications, we’re rewarding our employees for the pivotal role they’ve played in driving sustainable business growth from day one.”  

Kenny McPhail, Head of Talent, Learning & Leadership 


Meet the team:

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    David Parker, Manchester

    Based from the Manchester head office, David is the Learning & Development Manager for the UK, Ireland and Italy. He joined the Oliver James Group in 2011 with a background in managing a large direct sales team. Over the first four years he recruited into the permanent Actuarial market as well as internally for OJ, before he became the first employee to join the L&D team in 2015.

    David’s key responsibilities include onboarding, developing and upskilling new L&D Consultants as well as coaching and training senior members of the OJ Group. He has established himself as a trusted partner to many individuals in the business and continues to lead on key projects and initiatives for the global business.

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    Razan Abdelgadir, Manchester

    Razan joined the Oliver James Group’s L&D team in January 2016, working out of the Manchester head office.

    Having previously managed a desk placing technical personnel into the global Oil & Gas marketplace, she enjoyed the mentoring aspect of her previous role and felt that a move into L&D was the perfect next step in her career.

    Now a Senior Learning and Development Consultant, Razan is responsible for coaching and mentoring sales and operational staff in our Manchester and London offices. She is a trusted member of the team and continues to develop her skillset, currently studying for the CIPD L5 in Learning and Development. 

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    Martijn Vroom, Amsterdam

    Working from the Amsterdam office, Martijn is the Lead Learning and Development consultant for Amsterdam, Brussels and Frankfurt. After college, where he was active as a trainer/coach for sailing teams, he started out his career in recruitment in 2010 as a consultant with a large international recruitment agency. After that he joined OJ in 2015 to combine his coaching/training interests and his experience in recruitment to help OJ grow the Benelux and German markets.

    Martijn’s responsibilities include coaching and training the senior consultants and managers, developing and upskilling new L&D consultants, onboarding new hires and supporting the local directors with growing the business and solving business related issues.

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    Melissa Boneß, Frankfurt

    Melissa joined Oliver James with 12 years of sales experience. She most recently worked as a 360 recruiter for five years at a global agency, before switching over to training two years ago.

    As a Managing Consultant, Melissa enjoyed the support element of her role and helping others to become successful, motivating her to embark on a career in L&D. Currently, she focusses on training consultants in the Frankfurt office, as OJ look to expand their brand throughout Germany.


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    Rick Bleijenberg, Amsterdam

    Rick is the Senior Learning & Development Consultant for Oliver James’ Amsterdam office. He joined the organisation in February 2018 after being a recruiter himself for three years, operating in the Pharmaceutical industry.

    Due to the fast growth of Oliver James Benelux and under the stewardship of Martijn, Rick became the second addition to the L&D team. Rick’s key responsibility is coaching and training new employees from entry level to senior.


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    Richard Whalley, Hong Kong & Singapore

    Working out of our first international office in HK, Richard is responsible for Learning and Development across both Asian offices (HK & Singapore). Having joined OJ in 2014 initially as a consultant within the legal market, Richard made the transition to L&D in late 2017.

    Richard’s day to day includes upskilling managers within the HK and Singapore offices as well as onboarding new starters and general development of staff.

    Richard joined L&D due to a desire to drive overall business performance on a more macro scale.  

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    Rabia Altaf, New York

    Rabia is the Lead Learning and Development Consultant for the US market, based in New York City. Having spent seven years in the recruitment industry, three of which in L&D and coaching positions, Rabia wanted to utilise her knowledge and skill set to help those first entering the industry to grow professionally.

    Rabia currently supports everyone in the New York office, from those beginning their career to others in senior management positions, providing day to day coaching, leadership skills and training workshops. 

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    Kay Fairclough, Manchester

    Kay joined the Oliver James Group at the end of 2018 as Learning and Development Consultant based in the Manchester Head Office. She joined the business following five years with a globally-recognised recruitment firm, focusing on Sales and Marketing recruitment. Having mentored and coached junior consultants during this time, she joined OJ Group to further specialise in L&D.

    Kay specifically supports the UK Contract division alongside OJ Group’s rapidly expanding office in Ireland. She works closely with consultants from the day they start right through their career with OJ Group, providing regular 121 coaching and development workshops.  

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    Maddalena D'Attilio, Milan 

    Maddalena is the L&D Consultant for the Milan office. She joined the Company in 2018, after living and working in Barcelona for many years. There she gained experience within both the recruitment and teaching industries. Indeed, she was working as recruiter within an outsourcing Company, while teaching HR Management in a business school over there.

    What really motivates Maddalena in her job is the people of the business: that’s why she joined the L&D team and enjoys the role so much! 

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    Ebony Lawless, Dublin

    Ebony is the L&D Consultant for OJ's Dublin office. Overseeing the ongoing professional development for employees at all levels within the office, she provides day-to-day coaching, core training and workshops.

    With over five years of experience recruiting in Irish and US markets, Ebony made the transition into L&D due to an interest business strategy, and for the opportunity to impact the performance of a rapidly growing business.

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