Nicky Acuna Ocana, Managing Director, Ambition UK

Ambition Leaders - Spotlight on Nicky Acuna Ocana - Managing Director

Published on 23rd October 2018

Nicky Acuna Ocana is the Managing Director of Ambition UK and has been with the business since 2008. 

Tell us about your Ambition journey

I joined in January 2008, the day Ambition launched in the UK.  I joined as an Associate Director which was a step down from my previous role as Director, a decision I had made to enable me to have more flexibility to spend time with my young children.

I was instrumental in establishing Professional Service as a division and was soon promoted to Director and later Managing Director. 
 

What has changed since you joined the company?

Ambition was a very different place when I first started!  We had just gone through an acquisition so it initially took some time to adapt to the change in culture and the ‘Ambition’ way of doing things.

Ambition wasn’t a known brand in the UK, so there were lots of meetings with clients to show them what it meant to work with Ambition and explain our PRIDE values (passion, resourcefulness, integrity, drive, enjoyment), which still encapsulate the strength of who we are and what we represent.
 

What do you like most about your job?

It has to be the people that I work with on a daily basis. The quality of talent here is amazing as is the fact that people genuinely believe in the culture and care about what they are doing and how they are doing it.

I love meeting candidates and clients and it consistently renews the passion that I feel for my job and Ambition as a company.
 

What moments in your time at Ambition stand out to you? 

My promotion to Managing Director was a massive highlight for me. I couldn’t have been happier or more proud to be asked to lead the UK arm of the company that I was so passionate to work for.

My proudest moments are when I see my consultants achieve things they wouldn’t have thought possible when they started their career at Ambition. Developing Associate Consultant careers is one of our strengths in London. We have a number of exceptional people who joined as trainees and are now Managers, Directors and Principal Consultants.

I get a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction from seeing people achieve their potential and striving to become even more skilled.   
 

What challenges have you had to overcome in your career? 

When I took a step back in my career to enable me to have a better work-life balance and spend more time with my children, I was worried that it would stunt my long-term career aspirations.

This also coincided with the global financial crisis which was one of the hardest times anyone in recruitment has had to work through. A very levelling experience for everyone.

Having put my own career on pause for a period of time, it has made me incredibly passionate about ensuring that people who work for me can achieve a work-life balance without impacting on their careers.
 

Are there any valuable lessons you have learnt during your time with Ambition? 

I have learnt that I am only as good as the team that I work with. I have been very lucky to work with some incredibly talented and passionate people, both in the sales and corporate services function. Without such an amazing team, my job would be impossible.

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt is that sometimes the only way to learn and improve is to take a chance and not be afraid of failure or making mistakes. 
 

What is the best piece of leadership advice you have received throughout your career? 

There is no such thing as mistakes, only lessons. Always treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself. 

What are your predictions for the future of Ambition?

Ambition will be the go-to Professional Services recruitment firm in the UK. and we will continue Building Better Futures for our candidates, clients and Ambition personnel. 


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