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Yala featured in January edition of Business Plus

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Barry Prost and Jamie Groom left the recessionary gloom of Ireland post 2009 and built a recruitment business in sun baked Bahrain. Now they are back hoping to repeat their success in Ireland with Yala, a recruitment and consultancy venture.

Prost and Groom established Propel Consult in Ireland 2009 to provide specialist recruitment services in the Middle East. According to Prost, it made more sense to set up a base in the region and hence moved to Bahrain in 2010.

Initially the business was focused on construction and engineering sectors, Propel Consult later expanded into oil, gas, banking and finance. “Growing the business organically was challenging” Prost recalls. The primary obstacles were a lack of cash flow, building up a reputation and adapting to the cultural differences. Luckily Irish people are very well received in the region”.

Apart from the summer heat reaching a sweltering 50 degrees, there were some stark cultural differences to adapt to. Every operational decision tends to be left to the leader of the organisation, making it difficult to get sign off on contracts: in Saudi Arabia a work visa can take up-to six months to process.”

For family reasons, Prost and Groom decided to relocate back to Ireland. While the Bahrain office is still thriving. Yala was founded in 2018 and operates from Parkwest in Dublin.

” Our business model with Yala has shifted towards providing low cost recruitment partnerships to clients embarking on recruitment campaigns, where Yala acts as master vendor or sole supplier,” Prost explains. For local market knowledge, Yala recruited Mark Loughnane from Cpl.

Prost relishes the challenges of managing both business and coming up against a far more competitive recruitment market in Ireland. “Where there were 10 construction recruitment specialists in Ireland, there are now 50. The old recruitment model of ‘no placement, no fee’ is no longer working for the client or the agency.

“The challenges of managing a multi-office business across two continents are significant, but once you have the right people in place in key management positions, it can be done with minimal travel,” Prost adds. “The only thing you need is an understanding ‘Other half’.”

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