MBA Class of 1987
Founder and Managing Director
In 2003, entrepreneur Alexandra Kelly ’87 saw a niche market in England for pre-employment screening for financial institutions. She is now founder and managing director of Powerchex Limited, the fastest growing vetting and job referencing service in Britain. “Although businesses were using re-employment screening in the United States, it hadn’t caught on in this country yet,” Kelly says. “It’s still a relatively new idea here.”
In 2006, Powerchex was named a national finalist in the HSBC Start-up Stars Awards. The awards program aims to discover young start-up businesses, whose vision and innovation combine with sound management strategy to deliver outstanding commercial performance. “We’ve become more successful than I would ever have imagined,” Kelly says.
According to Powerchex research, 25 percent of all applicants in the financial service sector in Britain have embellished their job titles, extended their employment dates or fudged other such information. Applicants can lie several times on one application form, Kelly says. “If honesty and integrity for staff in the nation’s banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions are paramount, then this research highlights the need for careful checking before a candidate starts work,” Kelly says. “Today more than ever our institutions need to make sure they hire honest employees.”
The idea for Kelly’s new business came to her when she was working in the risk management arena. One of her London clients had an American parent company and, as such, needed to become Sarbanes-Oxley compliant. As they analyzed the company’s human resource processes, it became clear that there was a need for a pre-screening service. “I figured it was now or never, so I took the plunge,” she says. Kelly credits her success to her Simon School education. “I couldn’t have done this without my Simon MBA,” she says. “It helps me look at the wider picture.”