27 Aug 15 Staff corner

Yvonne Achan-Oryema


Welcome to our Staff Corner, where we tell you more about the people who work at Burns Sheehan!


We've had a particularly exciting 2015 so far. We've just moved into our new office on 55 King William Street, we're working with some of the best technology companies in the UK and in less than two weeks we'll be kicking off our next graduate training scheme! We’re always looking for talented people to join us so if you're interested in working for Burns Sheehan just visit our careers page or send an email to




Yvonne joined Burns Sheehan 15 months ago. 


Yvonne Achan-Oryema



Yvonne is one of the most positive, bubbly and fun people I know. It's literally impossible to not love her.


But don't be fooled - underneath that infectious laugh is a driven, intelligent powerhouse who's become a real expert in Java development recruitment. Yvonne has had a tremendous career at Burns Sheehan so far. After settling into her specialism, Yvonne raced through her promotion targets to become a senior technology recruiter and continues to go from strength to strength. 


I decided it was time to sit down with the woman herself and ask her a few questions... 




How did you come to work for Burns Sheehan?


Well I worked at another technology recruitment company for a year before joining Burns Sheehan. I chose them because the director was quite inspirational - he had come from a very successful time at S3 and was very charismatic. But after a year there I felt that there were some other skills sets I wanted to develop and was craving a slightly different environment. The rec2rec who had placed me there said he knew of a company that had everything I said I wanted in my next move so I decided to check it out. I was grilled for 3 and a half hours during my interviews at Burns Sheehan  and I will never forget Mat asking me about my GCSE’s. I just thought, "That was 12 years ago!!" But as soon as I finished the process, I know that it was the company that I wanted to join because of their morals, their values and approach to recruitment. And now I am here!





So you specialise in Java/Scala, can you tell me how you came to choose that specialism and what you like about that area?

I think many recruiters who start out don’t necessarily get to choose their market – so in my first job I was actually put on .NET. I felt more of an affinity with open source so I started specialising in PHP, and I thought this is what my market would be at Burns Sheehan. Because there was so much Java work they opened up my specialism, and then I gradually focused my specialism to Java/Scala. I like recruiting in this market because it’s a cool language and a lot of digital companies are using Scala to build pretty incredible stuff!





You have had a really strong year at Burns Sheehan and it seems like you hit a bit of a turning point around Christmas – can you tell us more about your journey here?


I had been here for 6 months – I started in June last year – and I felt as if in those first 6 months I will still trying to get to grips with the quality of candidates that were needed for Burns Sheehan. It was another level compared to where I worked previously! The amount of times my CVs were rejected by the Account Managers was unreal and it was a steep learning curve. I didn’t actually do my first development deal until my fourth month and I didn’t feel like I'd achieved what I had wanted to. I asked Chris and Mat for their advice, and I think it was just the case that I needed to carry on doing what I was doing, but do it more and with more urgency. So I worked extremely hard, I kept pushing and pushing myself, and invested more of my time into the job and then my luck changed - I guess that's why they say you control your own luck. 





Do you feel like since then you have been able to sit back a bit more and enjoy the rewards of your hard work a few months ago?


No, I don’t think there is a period in time where you can sit back and relax in recruitment. I guess that’s why it is not necessarily for everyone and it can be a bit relentless at times. You cannot afford to take your eye off the ball. What is really nice to see is that even though some people here have already reached their annual targets, they are still pushing themselves to smash it by an even higher margin. I think that reflects the culture we have here. 




Who would play you in a film and why?

I would have to say Beyonce. She’s sassy. I just think she’s amazing. I know she’s a pop star, but she has worked so hard and has become such a beautiful and powerful role model. She is all round superstar and I love her.





What is your biggest pet hate?


Can I say two? The first is one that you see a lot in this city: it’s when someone thinks they are better than someone else just because of financial reasons. That really aggravates me. The second thing is when people have an inability to see another person’s point of view. I like people who are open minded and won't involuntarily dismiss other people's opinions. 





What is your guilty pleasure?


Putting on music really loud in my studio, getting my hairbrush and dancing in heels in front of the mirror. Oh, and McDonalds… 





What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t think I have anything that I really treasure, but there is a memory that it very special to me. When I graduated from Cardiff, my Grandma and Grandad from my mum’s side - who had never been on a plane before - surprised me by coming to Cardiff University to see me graduate. They have never even been to the UK and they were absolutely terrified – my Grandad had never seen an escalator before! My mum battled with the university to get an extra 7 tickets just so that everyone could come. It was the most magical day and it is my most treasured memory.





What is the worst job you have ever had?


I had my first job when I was 16. I essentially had to cold call people at home between the hours of 4 and 8pm and ask them what window frames they had and whether they would like the new PVC type window frames. The amount of abuse I got was unreal. On my first day, they just handed me a booklet of names, numbers and a tick box and you just had to try and book appointments for the engineers. It was awful, but I was 16 and didn’t really know anything else. On reflection, it’s my worst job, but at the time I just thought this was what people did!





If were an inanimate object, what would you be?

A Christian Louboutin shoe – I think they are beautifully crafted objects, desired by many and so pretty!





Who inspires you?

I would have to say my mum. For someone who has gone through a lot of hardship in her own life, she has made such a concerted effort to do so much for her children and has set up her own business – she’s just someone who has a lot of the qualities that I admire in people. My mum is my greatest inspiration and my biggest cheerleader.





What do you think is the best thing about recruitment?

I think it is the amount of control you have. Recruitment has a lot of ups and downs, but the more you put in the more you will get back. It really does give you the opportunity to have an impact on people’s lives. It’s really sad that recruitment has such a bad stigma attached to it because changing jobs is a very big thing and it's amazing to be part of the process when you know you have done a good job for the job seeker and hiring manager.





What is the worst thing about recruitment?

I think it’s the ups and downs – it's probably the most bipolar job out there! When everything is going well you are flying, but inevitably you will have times where things just aren’t falling into place. That can be quite tough. Every job spec for recruitment will include buzzwords like tenacity and resilience, but once you start the job you soon realize how important it is to actually have these qualities so you're able to get through the downs.





What do you like doing when you are not working?

Partying, going out for dinner and shopping!





What is the best career advice you have ever received?

My last boss – he just said “just do it”. What he meant by that was that you just need to strip away any pretences and just do the job - just do the simple things and everything works out. Stop thinking about it and stop being scared. The worst thing anybody can say to you is no I am not interested and that cannot have a bearing on your life, you need to move on and do it!





If you were an animal what would you be?

I would like to be a panther – I just generally like big cats but I think the panther is one of the least documented and I think they are very graceful.





Can you tell us one thing that nobody else knows about you?

I once kissed Usher on the cheek. One of my friends in high school was absolutely obsessed with him and she found out that he was in London, so one Saturday morning we got the 3am coach to London where he put on a really private gig. We had all these Usher posters and calendars with us for him sign, and after the gig was over, he invited everyone who wanted a signature onto the stage. When I was there I cheekily asked for a kiss and he gave me one!





If you were speaking to a student or a recent grad who was thinking about getting into recruitment, what would you say?

It’s a very good first job to have out of University, but you need to do a bit of research into recruitment as I have come across a lot of people that think all you do is find people jobs. It’s a lot more than that. You also need to very prepared to put in the hard work, but if you do all of those things and if you are a nice person – you will do well. Hard work, empathy and the desire to succeed will make you successful in recruitment.



Finally, can you describe yourself with one picture?


olivia pope red wine gif



Fancy an informal chat with Yvonne about what's on the market? Just connect with her on LinkedIn or send an email to





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