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Alasdair MacMillan

Alasdair MacMillan on growing globally

By Alasdair MacMillan

CEO at Stellamar - Employment Solutions

Through the business that he founded in 2015, Alasdair MacMillan is breaking the mercenary mould in the realms recruitment and HR.

Along with delivering partner-led HR services, Stellamar is on the crest of a wave as recruitment specialists in some very niche sectors.

The gregarious Scot tells us about his voyage into the world of global recruitment from maritime beginnings to a company now leading the way in recruitment for the hospitality and UHNW and industries.

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What is the provenance of the name Stellamar?

Stellamar means star of the sea which links to my roots in maritime recruitment.

The house that my dad grew up in was a farmhouse in the Hebrides called Stellamaris. My dad's the Chairman of the company so it has a nice family connection and is a nod to him and to our family that came before him.

Can you tell us about the recruitment niches Stellamar specialises in?

Where our recruitment operations are concerned, we focus on two core areas. One of those is the hospitality sector, covering luxury hotels, resorts and cruise ships. Another area that we specialise in is the ultra-high net worth sector, essentially recruiting staff for assets that are owned by centimillionaires, billionaires, international politicians, or people in the global geopolitical sphere.

We have another segment of the business which is technical; supporting those assets from a design, construction and build perspective. It’s quite niche in the sense that it may be the recruitment of a Fleet Manager for a fleet of superyachts, or a Project Manager that builds cruise ships, or a Design Manager designing a large resort.

I started out my recruitment career as a consultant within the cruise ship industry. I saw synergies between cruise ships and superyachts, so I developed the superyacht market and then identified that there was an opportunity for us to be supporting their residences and assets.

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What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for those niche sectors right now?

I don’t think it’s any secret at the moment that the hospitality industry is desperately short on staff. There’s less movement of people so individuals that may have come from overseas to fulfil these kinds of roles previously aren’t able to do that. We’re seeing that same kind of skill shortage across the globe, so the opportunities are absolutely massive.

The cruise industry is going through a huge restart at the moment. The time frames within which these organisations need to hire are very short, and the numbers that they need to hire are very large. There are a lot of people that have left that industry, so again, there are huge opportunities.
The ultra-high net worth segment was largely unaffected last year, we tripled our business in this area during that period as we were able to focus much more on it.

Overall, there continues to be an increase in demand for people, and requirements for third parties, such as ourselves, both from an HR and from a recruitment perspective I think has increased, because people are looking for a more flexible model than taking an overhead of hiring people in-house.

"Having a bit more of an international view, and having a broader lens on the world is definitely helpful when it comes to doing business."

Alasdair MacMillan, CEO at Stellamar - Employment Solutions

You’ve spent some time living in Switzerland. Do echoes of your Swiss education reverberate in your work today?

I grew up in Scotland and moved to Switzerland in my teenage years. I went to a local French school and then an international school which was the same school that Kim Jong-un went to although it wasn’t at the same time. Kobe Bryant played basketball there too.

I think the experience definitely helped me to have a bigger picture mentality. To move abroad and learn a different language at quite a young age and get thrown in the deep end is probably what stuck with me more than the Swiss culture.

Having a bit more of an international view and having a broader lens on the world is definitely helpful when it comes to doing business overall, but certainly really to be able to engage with people on an international level.

What are your ambitions for Stellamar in the future?

I think my aspiration for Stellamar is never to be the biggest but only to be the best.

For me, the aspiration is to continue to grow our brand awareness globally, whilst continuing to increase our revenue in line with our targets. We’ve got an international office in Montenegro which was a big milestone for us when we opened it in March last year. Within the next three to five years, I would like to open another business internationally to increase our global footprint.

We’ve got a really good track record of developing raw talent. I’d like to continue doing that and giving people the chance to do and experience things that they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

What do you like to do to unwind outside of the business?

There are only three things in my life that matter to me. Number one is family. Number two is the business. And number three boxing. If I do nothing else in a week, other than spend time on those three things, I’m a happy man.

"We’ve got an international office in Montenegro which was a big milestone for us when we opened it in March last year."

Alasdair MacMillan, CEO at Stellamar - Employment Solutions