EVA Grabner calls Cairns home but her matchmaking influence transcends borders.
Over the past five years she has grown her venture Elite Executive into a top-flight recruitment firm for no-nonsense business.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Ms Grabner moved to the Far North in 2003 after a decade in the US.
She said her time working in tourism and hospitality proved an ideal training ground for the recruitment industry.
“One of my roles over the years was as a HR manager on ships, working with up to 50 nationalities and cultures,” she said.
“Everyone was different and we were faced with so many unique situations.
“Doing that for so long taught me how to read people, but it’s a talent I didn’t really know I had until I started in recruitment.”
She spent about eight years working in tourism across the Far North before deciding on a change.
Ms Grabner joined a Cairns-based recruitment firm and was propelled into a new chapter of her career.
After three years, she moved to Sydney for 12 months before returning “home” to begin her own business.
“I could see the tourism sector was starting to slow and it was very difficult with the transient staff,” she said.
“I grew up in hospitality, it’s my blood and I will always be passionate about tourism in this town.
“But I have found my calling in recruitment.”
Elite Executive is based in the Cairns CBD, but many of Ms Grabner’s clients are interstate or overseas.
Her bread and butter involves helping corporations fill highly skilled middle to upper management positions.
She has delivered for clients in the Middle East, Singapore, the UK, Perth, Brisbane and Cairns.
It is a high-stakes game, but Ms Grabner thrives on her work.
“I’m really fussy about who I work with,” she said. “If a client messes me around or doesn’t appreciate the effort that goes into recruitment, I won’t work with them.
“I’m based in Cairns because I love it here, but I find leaders for business worldwide.”
A crafty interviewer, she described personality as an “imperative” part of any candidate.
“If someone is not going to fit in with a team then it won’t work, especially in a place like Cairns,” she said.
Despite her far-reaching influence, Ms Grabner said helping fill a senior role in Cairns was among her most rewarding feats.
“An airline needed someone from a very particular, technical background, who had experience in the industry,” she said.
“It involved quite a bit of hunting, but I found someone in Australia who decided to move to Cairns and they spent nearly three years with the company.
“I love dealing with the many different personalities, attitudes, expectations and ever-changing feelings that go through people when they’re about to change jobs.”
Ms Grabner said she had no plans to become a “big business”, fearing such a move would reduce the “personal touch”.
Elite Executive has four staff in total across its recruitment and HR services.
With economic forecasts for the Far North looking bright, she said Cairns-based companies needed to start taking the right action.
“At the moment there is a strong candidate market, making it easier for employers to find people,” Ms Grabner said.